Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tar McAdam (Not an Order)

A follow-up to a follow-up: While typing out the word tarmac, I had one of those moments where a word, though correctly spelled, looks inherently strange and wrong. I looked it up to find out exactly where this word comes from. Tarmac is short for tarmacadam, a process that involves paving a road with crushed stone and tar and that takes its name from its inventor John Loudon McAdam. He bears no relation to John Macadam, the botanist after whom the macadamia nut is named, though it should be noted that the spelling of John Macadam’s name didn’t have to be fudged to make it work as a common noun.

Mmm… Fudge macadamia.

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