or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cough It Up

Tonight at work the word "expectorate" came to mind because I was looking for a synonym to placate a co-worker who hates the word "spit" (for some reason). As soon as I thought of the word, I began to wonder about its etymology, and my train of thought ran more or less as follows:

"Ex-" means out, obviously, and the root of the word must be "-pec-" or "-pect", but the only word I can think of that might apply is "pectoral", and that's just stupid, because what could spitting have to do with your chest muscles?

So I wrote down the word and eventually came home and eventually looked it up, and I am fairly sure that you are ahead of me in thinking, "No, you dunce, 'expectorate' must be related to 'pectoral' because to expectorate is not to spit, exactly, but to hack up and expel phlegm from the chest." And yes, that's where it's from, all right, and my only defence is that I was at work and engaged in a number of other things and didn't really have time to analyze the word. But that's a slim excuse. It should have been obvious, and it was, but I didn't see it.


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