Word of the day

The word for today is…

lunula (noun) – A small crescent-shaped structure or marking, especially the white area at the base of a fingernail that resembles a half-moon.

Source : The Free Dictionary

Etymology : The uncommon noun lunula is restricted to anatomy, biology, and archaeology or art history. It’s a straightforward borrowing of Latin lūnula, literally “little moon,” but meaning “crescent-shaped ornament” (one of its senses in English). The only common meaning for this uncommon noun is the pale, crescent-shaped are at the base of a fingernail or toenail. Lūnula is a diminutive of lūna “moon,” which is disconcertingly similar to Russian luná “moon.” (The cognate Polish łuna means “glow.”)

Both the Slavic and the Latin nouns derive from the same Proto-Indo-European source, louksnā, the same source as Avestan raoxshna- “shining; a light.” (Raoxshna is also used as a proper female name that in Greek is rendered Rhōxánē “Roxane.” The “original” Raoxshna/Roxane was a Bactrian princess born c340 b.c.; she married Alexander the Great in 327 b.c., and was poisoned in prison in 310 b.c.). Proto-Indo-European louksnā becomes in Old Prussian the plural noun lauxnos “stars,” and Middle Irish luan “moon.” All of these forms derive from the very common Proto-Indo-European root leuk- and its variants louk- and luk- “light, bright.” Lunula entered English in the 16th century.


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Peter is a fourth-generation New Zealander, with his mother’s and father’s folks having arrived in New Zealand in the 1870s. He lives in Lower Hutt with his wife, three cats and assorted computers.

His work history has been in the timber, banking and real estate industries, and he’s now enjoying retirement. He has been interested in computers for over thirty years and is a strong advocate for free open source software. He is chairman of the SeniorNet Hutt City committee.

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