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Spelling “Dilemma”

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  • I would like to put forth for consideration the two mathematical terms: lemma and lemniscate. ‘Lemma’ (a helping theorem) is, I believe, the source of ‘dilemma’, while ‘lemniscate’, refers to the figure 8 on its side used to indicate infinity. It would be pretty easy for anyone getting both words in a math class to come to the conclusion that they, and their spelling, were related. As for the Catholic school relationship: lemniscate, from the Latin ‘lemniscatus’, would have most certainly taken precedent (at least in my pre-Vatican II 1950s-60s generation) over the Greek origin of lemma.

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