#32. Corporeal

#32. Corporeal
(9 letters | 4 syllables)
(scrabble score 13)
1 | adjective | having material or physical form or substance
2 | adjective | affecting or characteristic of the body as opposed to the mind or spirit 

1 : having, consisting of, or relating to a physical material body: as
a : not spiritual
b : not immaterial or intangible : substantial.

1 Relating to a person’s body, especially as opposed to their spirit:
he was frank about his corporeal appetites

1.1 Having a body:
“a corporeal God”

1.2 Law Consisting of material objects; tangible:
corporeal property”
(Oxford Dictionary)

  1. Relating to a person’s body, especially as opposed to their spirit:
    he was frank about his corporeal appetites.

corporeal (adj.) Look up corporeal at Dictionary.com
early 15c., with adjectival suffix -al (1) + Latin corporeus “of the nature of a body,” from corpus “body” (living or dead), from PIE *kwrpes, from root *kwrep- “body, form, appearance,” probably from a verbal root meaning “to appear” (source also of Sanskrit krp- “form, body,” Avestan kerefsh “form, body,” Old English hrif “belly,” Old High German href “womb, belly, abdomen.


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#31. Horology

#31. Horology
(8 letters | 4 syllables)
(scrabble score – 15)
| noun | The art of designing clocks.

| noun |
the science of measuring time
the art of making instruments for indicating time.

Derivative terms:




Origin: Early 19th Century
This shares an ancient root with Greek höra ‘season, time’, source of horology (Late Middle English), horoscope (Old English), and hour. The term leap year, used from the 14th century, probably comes from the fact that in a leap year feast days after February fall two days of the week later than in the previous year, rather than the usual one day, and could be said to have ‘leaped’ a day.

(Oxford Dictionary)

horology (n.)
science of time, 1752, a modern word coined from Greek hora “hour; part of the day; any period of time” (see hour) + -logy. “The term horology is at present more particularly confined to the principles upon which the art of making clocks and watches is established” [American edition of the “British Encyclopedia,” Philadelphia, 1819]. Earlier in English it meant “clock, clock dial” (c. 1500), in which sense it represents Latin horologium “instrument for telling the hour” (in Medieval Latin, “a clock”), from Greek horologion “instrument for telling the hour” (a sundial, water-clock, etc.), from horologos “telling the hour.” Related: Horologist (1795); horological (1590s). Horologiography (1630s) is the art or study of watches and timepieces.

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#30. Circumflex

(10 letters | 3 syllables)

First use – 1577
| noun | a diacritical mark (^) placed above a vowel in some languages to indicate a special phonetic quality.
(Wolfram Alpha)

characterized by the pitch, quantity, or quality indicated by a circumflex
marked with a circumflex
(Merriam Webster)

circumflex: (also accent)
A mark (^) placed over a vowel in some languages to indicate contraction, length, or pitch or tone.

Bending around something else; curved: regarding surgical procedure, or anatomical structure. Example:
coronary arteries
(Oxford Dictionary)

circumflex (n.)
1570s, from Latin (accentus) circumflexus, “bent around,” past participle of circumflectere “to bend around,” of a charioteer, “turn around” (from circum “around;” see circum-, + flectere “to bend;” see flexible); used as a loan-translation of Greek (prosodia) perispomenos (Dionysius of Halicarnassus), literally “drawn-around,” with reference to shape

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#29. Inflorescence

#29. Inflorescence
(13 letters | 4 syllables)

1 | noun | the time and process of budding and unfolding of blossoms.

2 | noun | the flowering part of a plant or arrangement of flowers on a stalk.
(Wolfram Alpha)

1. the part of a plant that consists of the flower-bearing stalks
2. the arrangement of the flowers on the stalks
3. the process of flowering; blossoming

Inflorescence /origin/
from New Latin inflōrēscentia, from Late Latin inflōrescere to blossom, from flōrescere to bloom.(Collins English Dictionary)

1760, “arrangement of flowers on a stem in relation to one another,” from Modern Latin inflorescentia, from Late Latin inflorescentem (nominative inflorescens) “flowering,” present participle of Latin inflorescere “to come to flower,” from in- “in” (see in- (2)) + florescere “to begin to bloom” (see flourish (v.)). Meaning “a beginning to bloom” in English is from 1800.


“An inflorescence is a collection of flowers in a particular branching pattern that does not contain full-size leaves among the flowers. While there are many kinds of inflorescences to be found in flowering plants (angiosperms), each species has its own form of inflorescence, which varies only minimally in individual plants. However, if a plant bears only a single flower, or makes many single flowers scattered on a tree with interspersed leaves, no inflorescences are said to be present.

Inflorescences (sometimes called flower stalks) can be divided into two main categories, with many types within each. These two categories are determinate and indeterminate, and can be distinguished by the order in which the flowers mature and open. Determinate inflorescences mature from the top down (or the inside out, depending on the overall shape of the inflorescence). In other words, the oldest and therefore largest flowers (or flower buds) on a determinate inflorescence are located at the top (or center) while the youngest flowers can be found at the bottom (or outside edge). Thus, the flowers mature from the top down (or the inside out). The situation is reversed for indeterminate inflorescences: the youngest flowers are at the top and the oldest flowers are found at the bottom. Flowers in an indeterminate inflorescence mature from the bottom up (or the outside in). The terms determinate and indeterminate refer to the potential number of flowers produced by each inflorescence. In a determinate inflorescence, the number of flowers produced is determined by the manner in which the inflorescence is put together. An indeterminate inflorescence can continue to produce more flowers at its tip if conditions are favorable and are thus more flexible in flower number.

Each of the two broad categories of inflorescences can be divided into specific types. For the indeterminate inflorescences, the simplest types are the spike, raceme, umbel, panicle, and head. The spike has a single un-branched stem with the flowers attached directly to the stem. A raceme is similar, but the flowers each have their own short stems, which are attached to the main stem. An umbel has flowers with stems that all attach out in the same point on the main stem, resulting in an umbrella-like appearance that can be flat-topped or rounded. Panicles are highly branched with small individual flowers. A head typically has very small individual flowers that are collected in a densely arranged structure; sunflowers and daisies are good examples. Determinate inflorescences tend to be more branched and include the cyme, dichasium, and corymb. A cyme is a branched inflorescence where all flower pedicels and branches originate at the same point. A dichasium is more elongated and a corymb is flat-topped. All of these basic types can be further modified in shape and/or reiterated, resulting in complex inflorescences that can be very difficult to identify.

Inflorescences serve as a way for a plant to maximize its reproductive success. Flowers are collected into showy structures to better attract pollinators, to increase seed production, or aid in seed dispersal. Inflorescences can result in platforms suitable for insects or birds to land upon. Some inflorescences are tough and protect the floral parts from damage from the elements or from pollinating mammals.”

Harris, Elizabeth M.. “Inflorescence.” Plant Sciences. 2001. Encyclopedia.com. 3 Aug. 2016 <http: http://www.encyclopedia.com

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#28. Conglomerate

#28. conglomerate
(12 words | 4 syllables)
(first known use 1572)
1 | noun | a composite rock made up of particles of varying size
2 | noun | a group of diverse companies under common ownership and run as a single organization
3 | verb | collect or gather
4 | adjective | composed of heterogeneous elements gathered into a mass.
(Wolfram Alpha)

made up of parts from various sources or of various kinds.

Origin and Etymology of conglomerate
Latin conglomeratus, past participle of conglomerare to roll together, from com- + glomerare to wind into a ball, from glomer-, glomus ball — 

First Known Use: 1572

| intransitive verb |
to gather into a mass or coherent whole {numbers of dull people conglomerated round her — Virginia Woolf}


A number of different things or parts that are put or grouped together to form a whole but remain distinct entities:
the Earth is a specialized conglomerate of organisms.

Originating in Late Middle English (as an adjective describing something gathered up into a rounded mass): from Latin conglomeratus, past participle of conglomerare, from con- ‘together’ + glomus, glomer- ‘ball’. The geological sense dates from the early 19th century; the other noun senses are later
(Oxford English Dictionary)

conglomerate (n.)
“large business group,” 1967, from conglomerate (adj.).

1590s, from Latin conglomeratus, past participle of conglomerare (see conglomerate (adj.)). Related: Conglomerated; conglomerating.

1570s, from Latin conglomeratus, past participle of conglomerare “to roll together,” from com- “together” (see com-) + glomerare “to gather into a ball,” from glomus (genitive glomeris) “a ball,” from PIE root *glem-.

1620s, from Latin conglomerationem (nominative conglomeratio), noun of action from past participle stem of conglomerare (see conglomerate (adj.))
(Etymology Online)

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#27. Simulacrum

#27. simulacrum
(10 letters | 4 syllables)
(scrabble score – 16)

1 | noun | an insubstantial or vague semblance
2 | noun | a representation of a person (especially in the form of sculpture)

(Wolfram Alpha)

image, representation
an insubstantial form or semblance of something
(Oxford Dictionary)

A simulacrum is a fake version of something real. A wax museum is full of simulacrums of famous people.

Simulacrum comes from the Latin word simulare meaning “to make like” and is related to words like simulate (to imitate) and similarity. A simulacrum might look like a person, but it’s usually a sculpture. Also, a simulacrum can be a representation that’s not very good. If you say, “This video game is only a simulacrum of playing football!” that means it does a poor job of copying the game.

  1. An image or representation of someone or something:
    “a small-scale simulacrum of a skyscraper..”
  2. An unsatisfactory imitation or substitute:
    “a bland simulacrum of American soul music…”

simulacrum (n.)

1590s, from Latin simulacrum “likeness, image, form, representation, portrait,” dissimilated from *simulaclom, from simulare “to make like, imitate, copy, represent” (see simulation). The word was borrowed earlier as semulacre (late 14c.), via Old French simulacre

Academic paper on the Simulacrum of Money

The title of this paper is a nod to Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard, a post-modernist philosopher. This paper explores the meaning and nature of money, and the form in which money exists today. It begins by asking such basic questions as what is money and explores the history and development of money. We live in a world of increasing and stunning wealth, a world where billionaires are as common as millionaires once were, and a world of increasing wealth inequality. This paper contends that such a world exists because money is a pure simulacrum that has taken on a reality of its own, a reality that is now untethered to the fact that money’s significance used to be limited by its role as a symbol of an underlying thing of value. But money is now a pure thing in and of itself, with value, existence and purpose that is independent of any signified thing. When money became released from its role as symbol, the foundation was laid for the world we live in today. What does this have to do with law? Interestingly enough, the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions in the Legal Tender Cases of the last half of the 19th century provided notice (or warning, depending on one’s perspective) of the role of money today, and foreshadowed Baudrillard’s analyses of money in the 1970’s. These cases were at one time viewed as perhaps the most important cases decided by the Court, but have faded into obscurity as questions about the nature of money came to be viewed as pointless or long-settled. This paper contends, however, the ever-changing nature of the economic cycle may lead scholars to again start asking questions about first principles such as the nature of money. The purpose of this paper is to discuss money in its original conception, money as it exists now, and where the meaning and nature of money may be headed.

John J. Chung

Roger Williams University
School of Law

SIMULACRUM (simulacra): Something that replaces reality with its representation. Jean Baudrillard in “The Precession of Simulacra” defines this term as follows: “Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal…. It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real” (1-2). His primary examples are psychosomatic illness, Disneyland, and Watergate. Fredric Jameson provides a similar definition: the simulacrum’s “peculiar function lies in what Sartre would have called the derealization of the whole surrounding world of everyday reality

Purdue Postmodernism Terms

simulation, simulacrum (1)

Whether or not we live in a world of simulacra, the term is certainly important in light of how we view media. Media theorists, especially Jean Baudrillard, have been intensely concerned with the concept of the simulation in lieu of its interaction with our notion of the real and the original, revealing in this preoccupation media’s identity not as a means of communication, but as a means of representation (the work of art as a reflection of something fundamentally “real”). When media reach a certain advanced state, they integrate themselves into daily “real” experience to such an extent that the unmediated sensation is indistinguishable from the mediated, and the simulation becomes confused with its source. The simulation differs from the image and the icon (and the simulacrum) in the active nature of its representation. What are forged or represented are not likenesses of static entities, but instead the processes of feeling and experiencing themselves. Beginning as a primarily visual representation, the simulacrum (provisionally: the image of a simulation) has since been extended theoretically, and in the recent theory exemplified by the work of Baudrillard functions as a catch-all term for systems still operating despite the loss of what previous meaning they had held.

The terms simulation and simulacrum have subtly different meanings. Simulation is defined first as “the action or practice of simulating, with an intent to deceive,” then as “a false assumption or display, a surface resemblance or imitation, of something,” and finally as “the technique of imitating the behavior of some situation or process…by means of a suitably analogous situation or apparatus” (OED online). In total these three definitions convey the ideas that the simulation is usually of a set of actions, and furthermore is deceitful in its display of “some situation or process.” In comparison simulacrum is defined as “a material image, made as a representation of some deity, person, or thing,” as “something having merely the form or appearance of a certain thing, without possessing its substance or proper qualities,” and as “a mere image, a specious imitation or likeness, of something” (OED). Like the simulation, the simulacrum bears a resemblance to the thing that it imitates only on the surface level (see: surface), but as opposed to the simulation’s mimicry of a process or situation, the simulacrum is defined as a static entity, a “mere image” rather than something that “imitat[es] the behavior” of the real thing on which it is based (see mimesis).

Simulations are now a part of everyday life. A fire drill is one example, as it is a process which has all the outward appearance of an orderly escape from danger but none of the danger itself. Pilots and astronauts now train in flight simulators before taking to the air. Simulacrum has very little modern and vernacular use, and instead is employed almost entirely in the theoretical field. According to the OED’s first definition, a simulacrum is almost impossible to distinguish from a representation (see: representation). But in the second and third definitions we can see that the simulacrum supercedes representation in terms of the accuracy and power of its imitation. It is only when the viewer of the simulacrum penetrates the surface that he can tell that it differs from the thing it imitates.

Michael Camille elucidates the classical notion of the simulacrum in his article “Simulacrum” in Critical Terms for Art History. Camille analyzes Plato’s opinion of the simulacrum in The Republic: “The simulacrum is more than just a useless image, it is a deviation and perversion of imitation itself – a false likeness” (Camille, 31-32). Imitation, resulting in the production of an icon or image (see: image), results in the production of a representation that can be immediately understood as separate from the object it imitates. The likeness, however, is indistinguishable from the original; it is “a false claimant to being” (32). While the simulacrum is defined as static, it nevertheless deceives its viewer on the level of experience, a manipulation of our senses which transforms the unrealistic into the believable. Camille writes: “what disturbs Plato is…what we would call today the ‘subject position’ of the beholder. It is the particular perspective of human subjectivity that allows the statue that is ‘unlike’…to seem ‘like’ and, moreover, beautifully proportioned from a certain vantage point’ (32). The simulacrum uses our experience of reality against us, creating a false likeness that reproduces so exactly our visual experience with the real that we cannot discern the falseness of the imitation.

Jean Baudrillard writes in Simulations that an effective simulation will not merely deceive one into believing in a false entity, but in fact signifies the destruction of an original reality that it has replaced. He writes: “to simulate is not simply to feign…feigning or dissimulation leaves the reality intact…whereas simulation threatens the difference between ‘true’ and ‘false,’ between ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’ (Baudrillard, 5). As evidence he provides the example of psychosomatic disorders, conditions whose surfaces are complete likenesses of real disorders yet are untreatable using standard medical techniques. The simulation in this case destroys all notions of truth underlying the original illness in its complete replacement of everything apart from the logical reality of the disorder in medical practice. This reality is so nebulous, couched in metaphysical terms like “truth” and the “real,” that an effective enough simulation will destroy it completely, leaving the deceived in a world devoid of meaning. The simulation for Baudrillard brings us into a circular world in which the sign is not exchanged for meaning, but merely for another sign. He poses the question: “what if God himself could be simulated, that is to say, reduced to the signs which attest his existence? Then the whole system becomes weightless…never again exchanging for what is real, but exchanging in itself in an uninterrupted circuit…” (10).

If for Baudrillard the simulation is the process through which reality is usurped, then simulacrum is the term for the condition produced, namely a system where empty signs refer to themselves and where meaning and value are absent. In continued discussion of a God with a fear of divinity “volatilized into simulacra which alone deploy their pomp and power of fascination – the visible machinery of icons being substituted for the pure and intelligible Idea of God” (8). Fascination is here a term for empty occupation, a state in which we are held rapt by the visible and disregard anything beneath the surface. For Baudrillard work has become a simulacrum, existing for its own sake instead of with any definite purpose: “Everybody still produces, and more and more, but work has subtly become something else: a need…the scenario of work is there to conceal the fact that the work-real, the production-real, has disappeared” (47).

According to Baudrillard, what is simulated is what is mediated and vice versa. Those experiences in our lives that are explicitly presented as mediated the author classifies as simply of a higher order of simulation, one which simulates simulating in order to falsely suggest a real that exists outside of the surface truth. Baudrillard uses Disneyland as the prime example of this phenomenon: “Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation” (25). For Baudrillard, the explicitly mediated betrays us in its suggestion of an unmediated system outside of it (see immediate, immediacy). As there is nothing that is not simulated (e.g. devoid of what previous meaning it may have had), our everyday experience is mediated through simulacra.

Our experience in a “hyperreal” world (held in the grip of simulacra and where nothing is unmediated) is one in which media and medium are not simply located in their own hermetically sealed spaces, but dispersed around us, in all forms of experience [see: reality/hyperreality, (2)]: “No more violence or surveillance, only ‘information,’…and simulacra of spaces where the real-effect comes into play…There is no longer any medium in the literal sense: it is now intangible, diffuse and diffracted in the real” (54). The medium is no longer presented to us as a medium in the sense of a mediator, and the diffuseness of the medium means that what the individual still believes to be the “real” is never unmediated. We know that we are living in a mediated world, but in result of the ubiquity of the simulation life is now “spectralised…the event filtered by the medium–the dissolution of TV into life, the dissolution of life into TV” (55).

Gilles Deleuze agrees with Baudrillard’s conception of the simulacrum as a system of empty signs that signals the destruction of the original reality it is modeled after, though for Deleuze this destruction is brought about because the simulation of the original is so perfect that it is no longer clear where or what the original is. The original could still exist, but its existence is irrelevant as we do not know where to locate it. The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics summarizes his philosophy: “The artwork, then, is neither an original nor a copy nor a representation. It is a simulacrum, a work that forms part of a series that cannot be referred to an original beginning” (Kelly ed., 517). When the work of art is viewed in such a way the consequences are not negative, on the model of Baudrillard’s dread at the impending death of the real, but instead reveal new possibilities of interpretation in a critical realm where sensation is the focus instead of meaning. “Signs are not about the communication of meaning but rather about the learning of the affects, perceptions, and sensations to which we can be subject” (518). This fits perfectly with the conception of simulation as a process which affects our experience and not (as the image is) a signification of a fundamental reality. Michael Camille selects a quote from Deleuze’s essay “Plato and the Simulacrum” which ably demonstrates the simulation’s positivity: “The simulacrum is not a degraded copy. It harbors a positive power which denies the original and the copy, the model and the reproduction…There is no longer any privileged point of view except that of the object common to all points of view” (Camille, 33). The simulation changes the way that we view a work of art or experience a sensation, disposing with an earlier hierarchy that valued the original work highest, and what we are left with is exactly what Plato condemned, a system in which the viewer and his manipulation become more important than any underlying ideas.

David Cronenberg’s film eXistenZ engages the concept of the simulation and presents us with a vision of the future in which impression is valued over content. The film follows the first experience of a bodyguard uninitiated in the world of virtual reality videogames with a new product created by the videogame designed he was hired to protect. Speaking directly to Baudrillard’s concerns, the film leaves the viewer uncertain as to when the characters are in a virtual world (see: virtuality) and when they are experiencing the real. The self-referentiality within the film, with its framing of a virtual reality videogame inside of another videogame, portrays the simulated world as not only tied directly to the experience of emotion and sensation, but as a world in which logical action is rewarded and meaning sublimated. Any moral or allegorical conclusion that could be drawn from what appears to be the film’s initial conclusion, that simulations create a system which precipitates its own demise, is invalidated by a further expansion into another reality in which the real videogame designer is congratulated for having created a really fun game. The simulation in the film is reduced to the status of a ride or a contest, containing its own rules and raising the status of the videogame to deific proportions. The port into which the gamepods are plugged (directly into the player’s spine) becomes a metaphor for desire and oblivion in its simultaneous recollection of sexual intercourse and intravenous drug use. This is the realm of the simulation, a process whose responsibility lies only in what it makes us feel.

The simulation, as we can see by contrasting the philosophies of Baudrillard and Deleuze, can be interpreted in nearly opposite ways, as either the death knell for meaning and the “real,” or conversely as an avenue to new methods of interpretation. For Deleuze, the simulation raises the work of art beyond representation to a level where it is on equal footing with the original, and hence the original is destroyed. Plato’s fear of the simulacrum as described by Michael Camille is based on the distortion of real experience that the convincing image causes. The terms simulation and simulacrum are important to media study, as the simulation is total mediation without meaning. The content is shifted to a surface level, into the realm of experience rather than communication of truth, and the way that the medium affects us becomes our main interpretive focus.

Devin Sandoz

Winter 2003

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#26. exegesis

Http://journeyonthepct.blogspot.com #26. exegesis
(8 letters | 4 syllables)
(first known use: 1619)

noun | an explanation or critical interpretation (especially of the Bible)
(Wolfram Alpha)

exposition, explanation; especially : an explanation or critical interpretation of a text.

Continue reading

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#25. portent

#25. portent
(7 letters | 2 syllables)
(scrabble score – 9)

| a sign of something about to happen
(Wolfram Alpha)

a sign or warning that something usually bad or unpleasant is going to happen

Definition of portent

something that foreshadows a coming event : omen, sign
prophetic indication or significance
marvel, prodigy
Origin and Etymology of portent
Latin portentum, from neuter of portentus, past participle of portendere

First Known Use: circa 1587

an indication or omen of something about to happen, especially something momentous.
threatening or disquieting significance:
an occurrence of dire portent

  1. a sign or indication of a future event, esp a momentous or calamitous one; omen
  2. momentous or ominous significance ⇒ a cry of dire portent
  3. a miraculous occurrence; marvel

Word origin
C16: from Latin portentum sign, omen, from portendere to portend
(Collins English Dictionary)

portent (n.)
1560s, from Middle French portente, from Latin portentum “a sign, token, omen; monster, monstrosity,” noun use of neuter of portentus, past participle of portendre (see portend).

portend (v.)
early 15c., from Latin portendere “foretell, reveal; point out, indicate,” originally “to stretch forward,” from por- (variant of pro-; see pro-) “forth, forward” + tendere “to stretch, extend” (see tenet). Related: Portended; portending.

portentous (adj.)
1540s, from Latin portentosus “monstrous, marvelous, threatening,” from portentemportent” (see portend). Related: Portentously

monster (n.)
early 14c., “malformed animal or human, creature afflicted with a birth defect,” from Old French monstre, mostre “monster, monstrosity” (12c.), and directly from Latin monstrum “divine omen, portent, sign; abnormal shape; monster, monstrosity,” figuratively “repulsive character, object of dread, awful deed, abomination,” from root of monere “warn” (see monitor (n.)). Abnormal or prodigious animals were regarded as signs or omens of impending evil. Extended by late 14c. to imaginary animals composed of parts of creatures (centaur, griffin, etc.). Meaning “animal of vast size” is from 1520s; sense of “person of inhuman cruelty or wickedness” is from 1550s. As an adjective, “of extraordinary size,” from 1837. In Old English, the monster Grendel was an aglæca, a word related to aglæc “calamity, terror, distress, oppression.

augury (n.)
late 14c., “divination from the flight of birds,” from Old French augure “divination, soothsaying, sorcery, enchantment,” or directly from Latin augurium “divination, the observation and interpretation of omens” (see augur). Figurative sense of “omen, portent, indication” is from 1797 (also often in plural as auguries)


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#24. gnomon

#24. gnomon
{NO – mun}
(letters – 6 | syllables – 2)
(scrabble score – 9)
{first use 1546  Elizabethan Renaissance}

noun | indicator provided by the stationary arm whose shadow indicates the time on the sundial.
(wolfram alpha)

  1. an object that by the position or length of its shadow serves as an indicator especially of the hour of the day: as
    a : the pin of a sundial
    b : a column or shaft erected perpendicular to the horizon
  2. the remainder of a parallelogram after the removal of a similar parallelogram containing one of its corners.

Latin, from Greek gnōmōn interpreter, pointer on a sundial, from gignōskein

First Known Use: 1546
(Merriam Webster)


  1. the raised part of a sundial that casts the shadow; a style.
  2. an early astronomical instrument consisting of a vertical shaft, column, or the like, for determining the altitude of the sun or the latitude of a position by measuring the length of its shadow cast at noon.

1540-50; < Latin gnōmōn pin of a sundial < Greek gnṓmōn literally, interpreter, discerner.

Why gnomons are NOT perpindicular to the earth’s surface, but rather, parallel to the earth’s axis can be found here.

There are many examples of gnomons, perhaps the most famous being the obelisks of ancient Egypt. In modern symbology one may find the gnomon many places, including the compass and square. The relationship between the sun, the gnomon, its shadow, and the observor is highly complex dance. This is a key and a very ancient one at that. You may use it as you wish.

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#23. Panopticon

#23. Panopticon
( 10 letters | 4 syllables)
( scrabble score – 16 points)

1 | noun | an area where everything is visible
2 | noun | a circular prison with cells distributed around a central surveillance station; proposed by Jeremy Bentham in 1791.
(Wolfram Alpha)
1. a round prison in which all cells are visible from the centre point
2. (archaic) an optical instrument enabling wide views of cities
3. (archaic) an exhibition room
(Collins Dictionary)


Mid 18th century: from pan- ‘all’ + Greek optikon, neuter of optikos ‘optic’.
(Oxford Dictionary)

panopticon (n.) 
1768, a type of optical instrument or telescope, from Greek pan “all” (see pan-) + optikon, neuter of optikos “of or for sight” (see optic). Later the name of a type of prison designed by Bentham (1791) in which wardens had a constant view of all inmates, and “a showroom” (1850)

panopticon, architectural form for a prison, the drawings for which were published by Jeremy Bentham in 1791. It consisted of a circular, glass-roofed, tanklike structure with cells along the external wall facing toward a central rotunda; guards stationed in the rotunda could keep all the inmates in the surrounding cells under constant surveillance.

One Word Each Day Panopticon

Bentham’s Panopticon

   Although Bentham’s novel idea was not fully adopted in the plans for penal institutions built at that time, its radial plan was immediately influential, and its design clearly had an impact on later construction. For example, the Stateville Correctional Center, a prison near Joliet, Ill., U.S., incorporates essential features of the panopticon.(Brittanica )”Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power.

 So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it; in short, that the inmates should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers. To achieve this, it is at once too much and too little that the prisoner should be constantly observed by an inspector: too little, for what matters is that he knows himself to be observed; too much, because he has no need in fact of being so. 

In view of this, Bentham laid down the principle that power should be visible and unverifiable. Visible: the inmate will constantly have before his eyes the tall outline of the central tower from which he is spied upon. Unverifiable: the inmate must never know whether he is being looked at at any one moment; but he must be sure that he may always be so. In order to make the presence or absence of the inspector unverifiable, so that the prisoners, in their cells, cannot even see a shadow, Bentham envisaged not only venetian blinds on the windows of the central observation hall, but, on the inside, partitions that intersected the hall at right angles and, in order to pass from one quarter to the other, not doors but zig-zag openings; for the slightest noise, a gleam of light, a brightness in a half-opened door would betray the presence of the guardian. 

The Panopticon is a machine for dissociating the see/being seen dyad: in the peripheric ring, one is totally seen, without ever seeing; in the central tower, one sees everything without ever being seen.

excerpt from ‘Panopticism’ in Foucault, Michel: Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison.

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