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Take my word for it: Moraine… where geography and vocabulary meet

Diane Dean-Epps
Special to Sunday Express

I run a segment in my MS WRITE-NOW blog (http://mswritenow.blogspot.com) every week called “Take My Word for It” which, as you might guess, offers up a somewhat unusual word that may be tough to introduce into a conversation, but, boy, if you can, it’s impressive stuff!

I love words and, as many of you know, there is a word for just such a person. Word-lover. OK, only kidding. That may be true, but the more formal, Latin-y without salsa name is: philologist.

In a move to grab your attention by confusing you, I’m actually not writing about the word philologist today, but rather an intriguing-looking word that may make you stop and grab your dictionary by the short bindings upon encountering it, “it” being today’s “Take My Word for It,” word:



Moraine




-noun

Pronounced: [muh-reyn]

Contextually, it doesn’t provide any big clues, but maybe it reminds you of the word moron, like it does for me? Again, this is not helpful because the word has nothing to do with someone “who is notably stupid or lacking in good judgment.” Moraine actually has to do with glaciers, not clueless people. Stop yawning!

I came across the word, “moraine” in my e-mail because I’m such a dweeb that I actually subscribe to a couple of “word of the day” newsletter deals. (You always suspected this might be how I spent my time, but confirmation has now been provided.)

I’ve never even come in contact with a moraine, let alone used it in a sentence and, no, you can’t “verbalize” this noun by saying, “I was morained on an island, but luckily I had my top five favorite things: Dove chocolate squares, flip flops (my children have begged me to stop saying thongs), iced tea, poetry by Mary Oliver, and Johnny Depp.

Johnny Depp would be there just for the entertaining stories he could tell me when I’m not drinking, eating or reading.

What does the flipping word mean? I’m glad you asked!

Definition: A moraine is a “glacial deposit, ridge of rocks left at the sides and at the end of a glacier when it melts, also at the junction of two glaciers.”

As it turns out, there are several types of moraines; for instance, end, medial, terminal, ground, Veiki, and recessional. Given the reality or, if you prefer, possibility of global warming, it may be that we’ll all be using the word moraine as much as “credit,” both related to a meltdown.

Within the framework of the meaning and this possibility of global warming we would be saying things like, “Man, I sure can see that terminal moraine clearly. Huh, terminal. That can’t be a good thing, can it?” (The answer is, “Nope. Not so much.”)

They often say that science and literature do not go hand in hand (I don’t know who “they” are and I’m not sure why I’m bringing a metaphorical hand into the mix), but I guess I’ll leave you to the joy that is this geo-vocab-u-licious moment.

Let us savor it.

Diane Dean-Epps is a comedienne and writer. Contact her at http://www.dianedeanepps.com.


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