or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


As I've said before, there are pairs of words with slightly different spellings which denote different parts of speech: for instance, in the pair "advice"/"advise", "advice" is the noun and "advise" is the verb (and you can tell which is which because "advice" ends in "-ice", and "ice" is a noun). There are also a few pairs of words with a medical connotation which share the same trait; different spelling, different part of speech. The correct usage of these words is made trickier by the fact that both words in each pair are pronounced identically.

"-ous" is a common adjectival suffix: grievous, heinous, horrendous, and so forth. And so it is with the words "callous", "mucous", and the less well-known "villous"; they're all adjectives. Their noun forms are spelled without the "-o-"; "callus", "mucus", and "villus". And it drives me around the bend, because I am so easily driven there, to see in print something like "she has a callous on her foot" or "he had a lot of mucous in his chest".


What do "villus" and "villous" mean, anyway? Well, "villus" is the Latin word for "shaggy hair", and so villi (the plural form) are small hairs on the surface of something like a leaf or a colon. I am not sure how they differ from cilia, but that's because I'm not a doctor.

There's a pharmacy chain in the United States called CVS. I don't know what CVS stands for; their website is not very forthcoming. But their television ads still strike me as bizarre, because anyone who read a lot of medical books as a boy knows that CVS stands for a medical procedure performed during pregnancy called "chorionic villus sampling".

Update: Reader Frank guesses that CVS stands for ""Consumer Value Stores", and a quick web search proves this to be the case. Kind of a limp name for a store, like "Box of Grains" for a breakfast cereal, but I suppose all commercial names can't be as good as Mach 3 Turbo or Lexus.


Blogger Frank said...

Pyramus: CVS stands for "Consumer Value Store." I don't know where I found that, but I know it's not just something I made up. I hope...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 7:07:00 PM  

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