Monday, December 1, 2008

Interesting word for today: metagnathous

According to Webster's New World College Dictionary, 4th edition, the definition of metagnathous is the following:

"metagnathous (adj): 1 having the points of the beak crossed, as in the crossbills 2 having larvae that feed by chewing and adults that feed by sucking, as in butterflies and moths"

Yet again, the roots are Greek: meta- (between, among, along with) and -gnathous (having a jaw). Words that share meta- as a root include (among many others) metaphysics, metamorphosis, metagenesis, metacarpal, metabolism, and metagalaxy. -gnathous is a bit more obscure, but Agnatha (a class--or superclass, depending on who you ask--of animals, comprising the jawless fishes), gnathite, and gnathic are some of them. I suspect that words like gnashing and gnaw are also related, but I can't confirm that with my dictionary.

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