Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fire Coming Out of an English-Speaker’s Mouth

This week: a rare word that deserves more use, if through a metaphorical extension of its actual meaning.
ignivomous (IG-niv-AH-muss) — adjective: breathing fire.
For all I know, clever writers and speakers have long used the word to refer to people with foul tempers or with grandpa breath. And good on them. I just can’t imagine how anyone aside from volcanologists or dragonologists ever had a reason to use ignivomous literally. A Google search turned up two groups that mostly likely don’t use the word literally: a New York-based, art-advocating nonprofit and a Melboune-based death metal quartet. Not helping ignivomous’s chances of becoming any better-known among English-speakers is the fact that the latter Ignivomous choses to display its name in the stylized fashion pictured bleow.


Igni-wha-wha? Perhaps they should take some tips from the other, more aesthetically savvy Ignivomous.

The word — even as an illegible band name — comes from the Latin words for “fire” and “to vomit,” in that order.

Previous words of the week:

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