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                     *  WORD A DAY  *
                   Tuesday, July 3, 2007
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Fellow Logophiles, 

Since the Independence Day holiday is tomorrow, I have in-
cluded the origins of 4th of July words in today's issue. 
Also, because it is a holiday, there will be no issue of 
Word A Day on Wednesday. Be sure to come back on Thursday 
for the answers to the word power quiz! 

Here are the origins of Independence Day words, courtesy of 

The bald eagle (also called the American or white-headed 
eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is the national bird of the 
United States and one of the largest birds in the world. 
"Bald" in this instance means "white," not "hairless." Eagle 
comes from the Latin word aquila, "black eagle," from 
aquilus, "dark-colored," which it is until it gets the white 
head plumage as an adult. The eagle has been a symbol of 
freedom and liberty and power since ancient times. Some 
people, like Benjamin Franklin, did not agree that the eagle 
was an appropriate symbol. Franklin thought the turkey was a 
better choice for the national bird. 

The term for a combustible or explosive or pyrotechnic 
("pertaining to fire art") projectile was "rocket" until 
fireworks was used in 1777 to describe these in connection 
with the first Fourth of July celebration. "Rockets" are 
still the most popular form of firework. Rockets are lifted 
by recoil from the jet of fire created by the burning 
ingredients - and they are designed for maximum combustion 
and maximum thrust. Fireworks originated in ancient China. 
The word firecracker refers to those that make loud sounds 
and sparklers are those that send off a shower of sparks. 
The very first Fourth of July celebrations in 1777 included 
fireworks as a part of the festivities. 

A flag as a piece of cloth used as a standard, signal, or 
symbol in English dates to the late 15th century. The word 
may be an onomatopoeic representation for such a cloth 
flapping in the wind, but the origin remains obscured. As 
far as the American flag goes, there are many theories about 
its origin, with the story of Betsy Ross being the most 

The first Fourth of July parade took place on the Potomac 
River in Washington, D.C. when President John Quincy Adams 
led a boat procession up the river. Parade comes from a 
French word meaning "a showing" or "action of stopping a 
horse," originating from Latin parare, "to prepare." 



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WORD:  wizened   WIZ-und  (adjective)

: Dried; shriveled, as, a wizened old man. 

SYNONYMS: * withered 
          * sunken 
          * gnarled 
WORD WISE: Wizened is the past participle of wizen, to 
wither, to dry, which derives from the Old English wisnian. 

QUOTE: "Her eyes were clear and shining, full of love, and 
set deeply in the creases of her wizened face." 
--Catherine Whitney, The Calling: The Year in the Life of an 
Order of Nuns 


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BONUS WORD OF THE DAY:  Hogmanay   hog-muh-NAY; HOG-muh-nay 

: The name, in Scotland, for New Year's Eve, on which 
children go about singing and asking for gifts; also, a gift, 
cake, or treat given on New Year's Eve. 

The origin of the word Hogmanay is unknown. 


1)  deus ex machina   DAY-us-eks-MAH-kuh-nuh  (noun) 
    : in ancient Greek and Roman drama, a god introduced by 
    means of a crane to unravel and resolve the plot. 
    : any active agent who appears unexpectedly to solve an 
    apparently insoluble difficulty. 

    Deus ex machina is New Latin for "god from the machine"; 
    it is a translation of the Greek theos ek mekhanes. 

2)  vum   vum  (interjection) 
    : used to express surprise or puzzlement (New England) 

    Late 18th century. Alteration of vow.

          GopherCentral's Question of the Week: 

Should Illegal aliens be allowed to sign up for the military 
in exchange for US Citizenship?

 Please share your opinion, visit: The Question of the Week

Questions? Comments? email: word@gophercentral.com

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END OF WORD A DAY - Another F-R-E-E GopherCentral publication 
Copyright 2007 by NextEra Media. All rights reserved. 
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