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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Here's a Word I Never Ran Across Until This Morning

Posted by on Thu, Sep 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Sternutation. It jumped out at me from a dictionary while I was looking for the etymology of "staunch." (I know, I'm a dork.) Do you know what it means?

Definition after the jump.

"To sneeze... the act, fact, or noise of sneezing."

It comes from the Greek ptarnysthai, "to sneeze." That Greek version seems like a complicated, multisyllabic word for something so common.

I thought it might be related to "sternum," which also comes to English via Greek, but it doesn't look like that's the case. "Sternum" comes from sternon, which Homer apparently only used when talking about male chests, which comes from the Proto Indo European fragment stre-, "to stretch, extend."

Anyway: sternutation! (Gesundheit!)


Comments (7) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Perfect for the quiver of any good sesquipedalian along with the likes of defenestration.
Posted by mollman on September 20, 2012 at 1:09 PM · Report this
More, I Say! 2
The Spanish for sneeze is "estornudo." Pretty close!
Posted by More, I Say! on September 20, 2012 at 1:17 PM · Report this
The real question is, what is the etymology of staunch?
Posted by candiru08 on September 20, 2012 at 2:07 PM · Report this
treacle 4
éterneur = to sneeze in French.
The French é is often (not always) a missing s in the English word.
eg. école/school, étoit/straits, écran/screen, etc.

À tes souhaits!
Posted by treacle on September 20, 2012 at 2:28 PM · Report this
treacle 5
@3, here, let me google that for you: etymology of staunch.
Posted by treacle on September 20, 2012 at 2:31 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 6
micturation: to pee
eructation: to burp
Posted by thatsnotright on September 20, 2012 at 3:30 PM · Report this
Irena 7
Why are you calling yourself a dork? Intellectual curiosity is sexy...
Posted by Irena on September 20, 2012 at 4:37 PM · Report this

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