dwelling beneath the surface of the earth
chthonic allegory bears a striking resemblance, in fact, to the sort of living hell that many acne sufferers report experiencing on an everyday basis.
—Slate Apr 18, 2011
Greek-derived words often feature tricky consonant clusters that don't get pronounced that way in English. This word (from Greek
kthon, meaning "earth"), tends to lose its initial "k" sound and ends up sounding like
saliva mixed with discharges from the respiratory passages
Rarely a minute goes by during a game where you do not see a footballer depositing various levels of
phlegm on the pitch.
—BBC Jun 26, 2014
The "g" sound was lost when Latin
phlegma became Old French
fleume. But the silent "g" still
gets pronounced in variations on the word, such as
phlegmatic, which means "showing little emotion."
extinct flying reptile
Sportswriters, struggling to describe him, have compared him to capellini and a
—New York Times Nov 8, 2012
The first part of this word is from
pteron, Greek for "feather" or "wing." The second part comes from
daktylos meaning "finger."
animal tissue consisting predominantly of contractile cells
muscle, your decision-making ability is strengthened with consistent practice.
—Forbes (Jun 30, 2014)
It comes from Latin
musculus, literally meaning "little mouse," but the "c" went silent when the word entered French.
of or relating to the practice of aiding the memory
In this science activity you'll try out a technique called
mnemonics—a memory boosting strategy.
—Scientific American Dec 19, 2013
The word is from the Greek
mnemonikos, "pertaining to memory." The
mn- consonant cluster proved too tricky in the languages that have borrowed the word and was simplified to an "n" sound.
respiratory disorder characterized by wheezing
"However, some kids can't take the mist, namely those with compromised immune systems and kids with
asthma, who could have a respiratory response," he said.
—US News Jun 26, 2014
This word, dating from the late 14th century, used to be spelled as it is pronounced,
asma. It was only in the 16th century that the "th" was reintroduced to the English spelling, to make it like the Latin and Greek spellings.
of an appropriate or pertinent nature
In fact, comparison to high tech is
apropos because like the Internet, the shale boom is re-shaping the world.
—Forbes Aug 20, 2013
From French, like
faux below, where final consonants are often silent.
an acknowledgment that payment has been made
Of course, I have no pictures or even my rental agreement or
receipt to dispute this.
—Seattle Times Jun 16, 2014
In the Anglo-French spoken by the Norman conquerors, the word was spelled
receite. The spelling eventually changed in English to add a "p" (bringing it into line with the Latin root
recepta), but the pronunciation stayed the same.
manually manipulate, for medicinal or relaxation purposes
He oiled himself with warm, peppered coconut oil,
kneading his old, loose flesh that stretched willingly off his bones like chewing gum.
—The God of Small Things
This comes from the Old English verb
cnedan and Middle English
kneden. But like other
kn- words like
know, the "k" went silent in Modern English.
marked by truth
I have been open and
honest since the beginning with my feelings and desires.
—Slate Jul 1, 2014
The root is Latin
honestus, meaning "honorable," ultimately from
honos, also the source of
honor. And like
honor, the initial "h" sound was lost in the French versions of the word on their way to English.
bite or chew on with the teeth
Soon they got the furniture burning merrily, and Nailer cut slices of ham for them to
This started out in Old English as
gnagan. Just as
kn- words from earlier eras of English
lost their "k,"
gn- words were also simplified to the "n" sound.
difficult to detect or grasp by the mind or analyze
Meanwhile, fMRI gathers information about the location of
subtle changes in brain blood oxygenation.
—Scientific American Jul 1, 2014
receipt, this is what happens when you make the spelling imitate Latin but forget about the pronunciation. French had lost the "b" in Latin
subtilis ("fine"), resulting in
sotil, which was then remade to look (but not sound) like the Latin original.
dignified and somber in manner or character
Newt, all grim and
solemn, was waiting for Thomas at the top of the stairwell.
—The Maze Runner
phlegm above, the silent n in
solemn gets pronounced in related words like
not genuine or real
The video is the epitome of male entitlement and an excellent example of
—Time Jun 23, 2014
In Old French, Latin
falsus ("false") became
faus, eventually leading to
faux with a silent "x."
a meeting planned at a certain time and place
The ease and rapidity with which this meeting was set up made me suspect that the government might have planned this
rendezvous ahead of time.
—Long Walk to Freedom
This is from the French phrase
rendez vous, meaning "present yourselves." Following the French pronunciation, both the "z" and "s" go silent.
the season when the leaves fall from the trees
Several typhoons a year strike Japan, but they usually develop later in the summer or in early
—The Guardian Jul 8, 2014
The "n" that is silent here gets pronounced in
a line of units following one after another
His authority derived from the
column of military vehicles that stood outside their headquarters, and from the cache of weapons his rebels had stored inside.
—Time July 6, 2014
The silent "n" gets pronounced in
express strong disapproval of
The right response is to get better at catching and resolving errors faster, not to
condemn the system.
—Washington Post July 7, 2014
The "n" is pronounced in
accept as inevitable
On July 4, delegates to the national meeting of the National Education Association called on Duncan to
—Washington Post, July 7, 2014
The "n" gets pronounced in words like
an explosive device fused to explode under specific conditions
Never did we dream that shortly the
would fall on a faraway harbor whose name struck a chill across our own small, landlocked Pearl.The Poisonwood Bible