Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Wed, 30 Mar 2005 05:50:28 PST
Someone has written to me privately concerning my use of the word

I anticipated this response and was happy to see that someone picked up on
it. In fact, I deliberately and mischievously used the word in that way
hoping someone would pick up on it and give me the chance to say my piece on

The writer pointed out that the word is similar to the French word
hebdomadaire which means 'weekly'. That in fact is what it generally means
(on the admittedly rare occasions when it is used) in English, weekly. 

This meaning 'weekly' is the denotation of the word hebdomadal. 

But that is not the connotation of the word. The Greek connotes nothing more
than a group of seven. Not only does it not imply a particular unit of time,
the core meaning of the word has nothing to do with time. Nor does it imply
anything about the make up of the group of seven. The term hebdomad can be
properly used to describe any group of seven. 

Compare, for instance, monad, dyad, triad etc. 

Jim McKenney


-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Wilcox [mailto:marque219@yahoo.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2005 8:12 AM
To: Jim McKenney
Cc: Arnold Trachtenberg
Subject: OT Comment From PBS - Neat Word, but...

Jim & Arnold,

Jim wrote:
>But the members of both
>taxa typically live indefinitely and flower and fruit repeatedly -
>in the case of tulips under good culture and approximately hebdomadally
>(i.e. every seventh season) in the case of Cardiocrinum. 

When I saw "hebdomadally" I realized it was a word I'd never before seen,
but immediately wondered if it wasn't from the same root as the much more
familiar (to me) "hibdomadaire" from French?  It seemed suspiciously

In fact, it's an equivalent term, which I never knew existed in English. 
It means once a week, not once every seventh season, just as it does in
French, a synonym for "weekly" (but not weakly).

If you don't already know it, another great Greek-derived word to learn is
"callipygous," even if it has no direct application to horticulture!


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