Monday, December 21, 2015

Word of the day: apostrophe

The word of the day is apostrophe:
  1. a digression in the form of an address to someone not present, or to a personified object or idea, as “O Death, where is thy sting?”
1580s, from M.Fr. apostrophe, from L.L. apostrophus, from Gk. apostrophos (prosoidia) "(the accent of) turning away," thus, a mark showing where a letter has been omitted, from apostrephein "avert, turn away," from apo- "from" (see apo-) + strephein "to turn" (see strophe). In English, the mark usually represents loss of -e- in -es, possessive ending. Greek also used this word for a "turning aside" of an orator in speech to address some individual, a sense first recorded in Eng. 1530s.


"In an unusual excursion into the high-flown, the inscriptions on the stairway apostrophized the gore: 'the blood was pooled and the skulls of the Mutal people were piled into mountains.'"

 - Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

No comments: