Thursday, October 2, 2014

Word of the Week: Glabella

Woo-hoo!  It's Thursday! You know what that means...

Word: glabella

How you say it: [gluh-BEL-uh]

What it is: noun

How to pluralize it: glabellae [gluh-BEL-ee] or [gluh-BEL-eye]

What it means:  1.) smooth prominence on the forehead between the eyebrows and just above the nose. (Definition courtesy of my trusty, well-loved copy of Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 1997)

Let that sink in for a moment.  Yes, there’s a name for that hairless spot between your eyebrows.  There’s a name for that!  That is how awesome our language is. Now, this word is rather obscure and slightly more ‘scientific’ in nature, so if you use it, you’ll probably come across as ostentatious and erudite.  Of course, if you use ‘ostentatious’ and ‘erudite’ you’ll come across as ostentatious and erudite, but don’t let that stop you.  (Don’t know what those words mean? There’s a link to in the sidebar.)

Now, normally I don’t include the origins of words in my Word of the Week posts, but this particular derivation was just way too interesting to pass up.

Where this word comes from (etymology): Modern Latin, derived from the classical Latin. Glabella is the feminine form of glabellus, meaning “without hair.” Glabellus is derived from the classical Latin glaber, meaning “smooth or bald.” Glaber is derived from the Indo-European (a language that was in use well before Latin was spoken) ghladh-ros, which is derived from ghladh.  Ghladh meant “shining or smooth,” and it was derived from the base ghel-, meaning “to shine.”  Bizarrely, the word glad, as in ‘happy,’ is ultimately derived from this same Indo-European base, the idea being that when you feel glad it’s like you’re shining with happiness.  (Etymological information drawn from Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 1997)

Yeah. That’s what happens to words over thousands of years; we get “happy” and “hairless spot between your eyebrows” from the same root word.  Language is a bizarre and fascinating creature.

Use it three times and it’s yours!  Using a word three times can help you remember it.

The six-eyed space alien had not one, but three glabellae.

When Katie caught a glimpse of her reflection, she saw to her dismay that a large pimple had formed on her glabella.

The lacy silver circlet came to a point in the center of the princess’s forehead, and a brilliant jewel dangled over her glabella.

Share your three sentences in the comments!

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  1. 1. In order to compete with his glabella, the rest of Uncle Skeeter's head became glabellus.
    2. The uni-brow defies the spirit of the term 'glabella'.
    3. Doot dot Doooo, Doot Doot da doodle-Doot;
    da Doot dot Doooo, Doot Doot da doodle-Doot;
    da Doot dot Doooo, Doot Doot da doodle-Doot;
    da Doot Doot Dot Doot; Glabella!!

    1. Dear "Anonymous,"

      Firstly, don't think that I don't know who you are. Based on the time of day, certain people I forwarded this link to, and certain key terms, I know with 99% confidence who you are.

      Secondly, "glabellus" is the classical Latin word and is not used in modern English. The word you are looking for is "glabrous," which is drawn from the classical Latin "glaber."

      Thirdly, oddly enough, when I saw the word "glabrous" in the dictionary, the first two words that popped into my head were "Uncle" and "Skeeter." I'm sure he'd be proud.

      Fourthly, is that third entry supposed to be "Tequila"? Because if it is, it's poorly rendered. If it's not supposed to be "Tequila," I admit I'm flummoxed. (Also I don't think that counts as a sentence. Just sayin'.)

    2. Poorly rendered??? Yet not SO poorly rendered that you were not unable to figure it out correctly. Bear in mind that it was merely the crescendo which takes you to the triumphant cry of "Tequila," not the whole song.

      Since you deemed my third entry as not being a sentence, perhaps you'll like this better:

      While shopping at Glabella's, I purchased a pair or camouflage tweezers, with which I will tame my hirsute glabella.

    3. Nice use of the word 'hirsute,' by the way.

  2. Oh, dear. This is a tough one. Hmm...

    1) Jesse scratched his itchy glabella.
    2) P'li's explosion-bending powers could be temporarily dampened by a strike to her glabella.
    3) Please excuse me, sir, but are you aware of the rather large spider spinning a web over your glabella?

    Would you believe that the word processor on this browser doesn't accept "glabella" as a word? Yeesh. Also, to anyone who recognized the LoK reference of sentence #2... I love you.

    1. Yes, I recognized the reference...and it's "combustion-bending," not "explosion-bending." :) My word processor doesn't recognize 'glabella' either; it doesn't recognize a lot of obscure words.