or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Taking Off

As I might have mentioned before, packaging in Canada by law has to bear everything in both English and French. (The occasional package of something imported might stand as an exception--it happens--but it's pretty rare.)

I was doing so cleaning today, and, on a tube of recently expired sunscreen in the linen closet, saw the following:


I suppose my brain wasn't in full operating condition: is it ever when you're cleaning? I recognized that the "-fuge" must be related to "refuge" somehow, but I honestly couldn't figure out how.

You probably can. Go ahead, give it a minute or two.

"Refuge" is from Latin: the usual intensifier "re-" plus "fugere", "to flee". Refuge isn't something you flee; it's something you flee towards. That's what threw me off. "Fugitive" is also related, for obvious reasons, and so is the musical composition known as a fugue, because it takes a fixed structure (a relatively short and simple theme, repeated over and over again in various parts of the scale and in counterpoint--here's one) and then encourages the composer to run with it; it's a musical flight of fancy. Oh, and "centrifuge", a device which whirls substances so that, in their containers, they flee the middle for the circumference.

So: "Hydrofuge" doesn't mean "waterproof", exactly; it means "water runs away from this!"


Blogger Bright Beak said...

thank you, i SOOOOOOOOOOOO desparately needed this today!


Friday, January 26, 2007 2:50:00 PM  

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