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Stentorian Origin

The adjective stentorian, meaning “extremely loud,” comes from the name of brazen-voiced Stentor, a Greek herald in The Iliad, whose voice was said to be as powerful as that of 50 men. The noun and verb mentor come from The Odyssey. In...

The Black Dog (episode #1536)

Books were rare treasures in the Middle Ages, painstakingly copied out by hand. So how to protect them from theft? Scribes sometimes added a curse to the first page of those books that was supposed to keep thieves away — and some were as vicious as...

Amethyst Etymology

The ancient Greeks believed that the precious purple stone called an amethyst had the power to prevent a person from becoming intoxicated. That belief is reflected in the name of this gem, which comes from the Greek prefix a- meaning...

Greek Letter Word Game

Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s puzzle involves subtracting the names of Greek letters from sentences. For example, the name of which Greek letter could be removed from the following sentence to leave another English word? I piled my gear on the...

Pronouncing Zoology

Jimmy and his high-school classmates wonder about the pronunciation of words like zooplankton, zoology, and zoological. The traditional pronunciation for many scientific terms that start with zoo- is to use a long o rather than an oo sound. The...

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