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Welcome to issue #46 of Words Matter, our bi-weekly newsletter. Please feel free to share with a friend!
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Victory and Nourishment
My word-loving friend and former student Megan has again inspired a topic for this week's newsletter. As often happens (well, not just often, but all the time, really) people who enjoy words get to thinking. Recently Megan got to thinking about the word trophy--that cup or other symbol displayed to represent a victory. She wondered if trophy was related to the suffix that we see in words like dystrophy and atrophy.
We have all noticed that sometimes two completely different words look exactly the same. A good example is the word bat. Bat can mean a stick used to hit a ball, or bat can mean the flying mammal. They're pronounced and spelled alike, but not at all related in meaning or word origin.
Another example is the word bass. Bass can mean a four-stringed guitar that plays low notes or bass can mean the fish. They're spelled the same but pronounced differently and not at all related in word origin.
Word parts can look alike but mean completely different things, too. Take the suffix -s as an easy example. On a noun it means "more than one" (plural): one cup, but two cupS. On a verb the suffix -s makes the "he or she form" (3rd person singular): I enjoy and you enjoy, but he or she enjoyS.
So it is with trophy. The cup or prize symbol word comes from a Greek root that means "a turn". It represents turning back an opponent.
It's the root meaning in the word tropics as well-- those two imaginary lines on our earth, and the regions between them-- where the sun appears to turn north or south halfway through each year.
On the other hand, trophy as a suffix is a Greek bio-scientific term that means "nourishment or growth". Thus, dystrophy means bad or weak nourishment, and atrophy means a lack of growth or nourishment.
A life-long sense of curiosity and wonder about words is what happens when you get to thinking about words as morphemes--pieces of meaning.-- R.D. "Doc" Larrick
This brief student video comes directly from WordBuildonLine Foundations Level 3 and illustrates the culmination of the study of prefixes and suffixes!
The triple suffix -ization
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