Cephalogenic

or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

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Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Nose Job

This is the fourth (I think) in a very occasional series of misspellings in cartoons. Reaching deep into the past, this one is from the April 1980 issue of the National Lampoon.


It's tempting to spell the word as "aqualine", since that's how it sounds and since "aqua" is such a common word or word source ("aquatic", say, or, confoundingly, "aquifer"). But it's spelled "aquiline" and it has nothing to do with water. Instead, it's from Latin "aquilinus", "eagle-like". An aquiline nose is majestically hooked like an eagle's beak.

"Aquilinus" is from Latin "aquila", "eagle", and at the risk of stating the very obvious, "aquila" became, in French, "aigle", where it remains to this day and meant, and still means, "eagle", and "aigle" in turn became "egle" in Middle English, where it eventually gave rise to modern-day "eagle".

Why is is "aquatint" or "aquarium" but "aquifer" and "aquiculture", anyway? It just is, that's why. Latin had two different combining forms, "aqua-" and "aqui-", and we just happened to inherit both of them.

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