What's in a Word?

Pondering word play and power in The Daily Sentinel

Page 100 of 132

Minimum meeting members: Who knew?

By Debra Dobbins
Friday, March 4, 2011

This excerpt from “Today in History” has two important civics terms: adjourned and quorum.

Adjourn means to close a meeting or session for a time, according to Webster’s.

Webster’s notes that quorum grew out of the Latin word qui, meaning who. Webster’s gives three definitions: “1 orig., the number of justices of the peace required to be present at sessions of English courts 2 the minimum number of members required to be present at an assembly or meeting before it can validly proceed to transact business 3 a select group or company.”

Holding meetings is an important part “of government of the people, by the people and for the people,” in the words of our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. U.S. citizens are lucky that the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees, among other rights, the right to assemble. Not everyone in the world is so fortunate.

How did you do on the analogies yesterday? Answers below:

LARGE : MACRO :: SMALL : __________ (MICRO) synonyms

LEFT : RIGHT :: UP : _____________ (DOWN) opposites

CLOCK : TIME :: THERMOMETER: _________ (TEMPERATURE) measurement devices

CHILD : PEDIATRICIAN :: PUPPY : _____________ (VET or VETERINARIAN) medical jobs

TEACHER : SCHOOL :: NURSE: ______________ (HOSPITAL) places of employment



Pop quiz on analogies

By Debra Dobbins
Thursday, March 3, 2011

Analogy is “the likening of one thing to another on the basis of some similarity between the two,” according to Webster’s.

For years, students have pondered analogy questions on the SAT test, a standardized exam that many colleges and universities require as part of their acceptance process.

Here is an example:


The reasoning here is: A leg has a joint called a knee, and an arm has a joint called an elbow. The fact that both limbs have joints is the similarity in this analogy.

Want to try some basic analogies? I’ll provide answers tomorrow.

LARGE : MACRO :: SMALL : __________

LEFT : RIGHT :: UP : _____________

CLOCK : TIME :: THERMOMETER: ____________

CHILD: PEDIATRICIAN :: PUPPY : _____________

TEACHER : SCHOOL :: NURSE: ______________


Single stone, many words

By Debra Dobbins
Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A  local example of a monolith is Independence Rock in the Colorado National Monument. Eric Sandstrom, a seasonal park ranger, comments on it and other monoliths today in the third part of a series about Grand Valley’s fascinating 20,000-acre park.

Mono is a word part that means one or single. Lith means rock or stone. Put together, they become monolith, or single stone.

Knowing the meanings of these two word parts helps us understand many other words. Here are a few examples:

monopoly - one controls many

monotone - one tone of voice

monochrome - one color

lithology - the study of rocks

megalith - huge rock

xenolith - foreign rock, or, more precisely, “a rock fragment that is different in kind from the igneous rock in which it is embedded,” according to Webster’s.

Sandstrom also explains why people become confused over the word “monument” when they visit the park. To enjoy his complete column, take a look at www.gjsentinel.com or the print or e-edition of The Daily Sentinel.


Mentoring fledgling democracies

By Debra Dobbins
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

As springtime draws near, we’ll soon see flowers and maybe even fledglings, young birds that have grown enough feathers to enable them to fly. Their first efforts to soar through the air, though, will probably be awkward.

From the noun “fledgling” comes an adjective spelled the same way. A fledgling democracy, therefore, is one that is considered young and inexperienced.

Afghans now have had some time to try out aspects of democracy such as voting. They may become mentors (see yesterday’s blog) for others in the years to come as citizens in Tunisia and Egypt seize their chances to create democratic governments. Perhaps Afghans will also mentor citizens in the North African country that lies between Tunisia and Egypt, Libya.

As violence escalates in Libya, we can only hope that its citizens will also soon enjoy democracy without having to pay for it with a civil war. To preserve lives, Libyans are asking members of the international community to enforce a “no fly zone” to protect them from air attacks from their own government headed by dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

At this point, not enough countries have agreed to help seize control of Libyan air space. According to news reports, some nations will not commit to such a move until all their citizens are out of Libya.

So, Libyans need a “no-fly zone” in order to give democracy a chance to fly. Granting that request will mean that enough freedom-loving nations, or birds of a feather, will need to decide to flock together. For the sake of Libyan citizens, I hope they do.


As mentioned yesterday, here are some sentences that support the idea of mentoring in the article on MSC basketball players Sigl and Bowdon:

“From the beginning we had that connection,” Sigl said. “I feel like she’s the little sister I never had.

I treat her like (I treat) my little brother. There’s no sympathy. I just tell her like it is.”

Sigl, only a sophomore, took it upon herself to help Bowden, a freshman from Montrose, learn the college game. Early in the season, Bowden was a little wideeyed, trying to keep up with the speed of the game and the atmosphere of college basketball.

She’s learned how to control her 6-foot-1 frame against players her own size, and has become more and more polished at catching the ball in traffic and scoring.

Defensively, she’s always talking from the baseline, calling out screens, and uses her strength and ability to block shots to go against more experienced players. She’s still a little raw, but is also like a sponge, taking every bit of coaching to heart.

“Ohhh,” coach Roger Walters said of Bowden’s play after Mesa State upset third-ranked Fort Lewis on Saturday night. “They have a great relationship. Kels tells her like it is, and she’s earned the right to coach her a little bit and does a great job with her.

“The Mavs are confident Bowden will become a dominant post player, and for the next two years, she’ll have Sigl constantly in her ear.

“I see her potential and I want the best for her,” Sigl said. “She’s going to be an absolute beast when she figures it out.”


Mentor is worth a mention

By Debra Dobbins
Monday, February 28, 2011

If you’re not sure what the word “mentor” means, look at the words below it and then try to guess.

(Imagine the sound of game show music playing here …. )

Time’s up! Did you notice the phrase “Sigl passing knowledge on to Bowden”? That is the context clue that hints that a mentor must be a person who teaches another.

A mentor could be someone such as a teacher, coach, team member, pastor, youth counselor or a parent, sibling or some other older family member. A mentor takes someone else under his or her wing and guides that person into acquiring better skills or wisdom.

The word comes from the ancient Greeks. Homer, who wrote The Odyssey, included a man named Mentor, who was the trusted advisor for Odysseus. Odysseus was the famous hero who fought in the Trojan War and then spent 10 long, dangerous years trying to return home.

Odysseus put Mentor in charge of his young son, Telemachus, while he was away and asked Mentor to teach Telemachus.

According to Greek mythology, the goddess Athena, a protector of Odysseus, would often appear to Telemachus disguised as Mentor.

The word in its current meaning as “wise counselor” came into French in 1749 and English in 1750, according to The Mentor, a publication put out by Penn State University. The Mentor adds that the word stems "from the Indo-European root men, meaning ‘to think.’” (http://dus.psu.edu/mentor/homer.htm)

Can you find sentences in the article on MSC basketball players Sigl and Bowden that support the idea of mentoring? The story starts on page 1B today. Answers tomorrow.

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