or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, April 20, 2007

Burning Desire

For the last few days I've been obsessively playing with ColourLovers.com, which lets you make palettes of up to five colours, store them, and share them. You get to name colours that nobody else has used yet: since there are a lot of possible colours using the RGB system (256 cubed, which is to say 16,777,216), the chances that you'll pick some unnamed colours are pretty good.

It's the best Internet sandbox toy ever.

One of the colours I named was a bright, hot green that I called "Muriatic Acid", just for fun. (You can look it up.) And then I wondered where that particular acid got its name.

Muriatic acid is the old name for hydrochloric acid. I knew that much. The rest was a mystery. As you might expect, the answer to every question is over at Wikipedia, and this one is no exception. As it turns out, "muriatic" comes from Latin "muria", which means "brine". Salt? Well, the acid was originally known as "spirit of salt", because it was produced as an accidental by-product of the manufacture of sodium sulfate from sodium chloride--that's "salt" to us non-scientists--and sulfuric acid. Doesn't that make perfect sense? It does.

I naturally wondered if "muria" might have left any other offspring in the language. The only word I could think of was "immure", but that obviously has nothing to do with brine: it's from the Latin "murus", which means "wall" and also gave us "mural", a wall-painting, and "immure" means "imprison within walls".

Some other potential candidates that didn't pan out: "murine", which means "of or relating to mice", from Latin "mus", which is where "mouse" comes from; "murex", a type of spiny-shelled sea life; "murre", a species of auk whose name is of unknown origin; and "muraenid", which is a moray eel.

Not one of them has ever been within throwing distance of "muria". If we have any traces of it left in English save for the archaic (but prettily named) muriatic acid, I couldn't find them.


Blogger belledame222 said...

oh, how cool. i love websites like that, once spent a happy hour and a half or so at the Crayola website...*skips over to take a look*

Saturday, April 21, 2007 8:16:00 PM  

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