Tag Archives: Word for Wednesday

Word for Wednesday: Z is for zooxanthellae.

This week, for my final Word for Wednesday of the series, I could justifiably have gone for ‘zero’, ‘zip’, or ‘zilch’.  That – very frustratingly – was the state of my internet connection on Wednesday, hence the Thursday publication!  Sometimes there is just no way of working to ideals in this country, and you just have to growl in irritation, breathe deeply for a while, give a resigned shrug, then wait!

Anyway, getting back to my actual chosen word!  I thought that, as the alphabet started, way back in July, with ‘albescent‘, it would round things out nicely to close with zooxanthellae.  And if you’ve been with me on my blogging journey for a while now, you will know that I am passionate about our beautiful, fragile seas and oceans.


Zooxanthellae (noun).

(plural of zooxanthella).

  • any of various symbiotic dinoflagellates that live within the cells of other organisms (as reef-building coral polyps)
  • any of various symbiotic yellow-green or yellow–brown algae in the cytoplasm of certain radiolarians and marine invertebrates.
  • Any of various yellow-brown photosynthetic dinoflagellates that live symbiotically within the cells of other organisms, especially certain corals and other marine invertebrates.

Word derivation: modern Latinzoo ‘of animals’ + Greek xanthos ‘yellow’ + the diminutive suffix -ella.

First Known Use: circa 1891.



Beautiful healthy coral, as far as the eye could see. Plus two curious and friendly Batfish, keeping me company on my dive!


Eugene H. Kaplan’s book, Sensuous Seas: Tales of a Marine Biologist is an absolutely fascinating read.  There really is a whole world of wonder going on just beneath those waves.  I also love that Kaplan is an academic and scientist who writes to actually be read and understood by normal people – fantastic!! It’s a book I go back to time and time again.

“Sadly, the astonishing interaction between coral and zooxanthellae is being reversed by modern man.  Global warming does exist.  Proof lies in the sensitive nature of coral reefs.  Having evolved in the constant temperatures of the open sea, corals are unable to stand even brief exposure to fluctuating temperatures. Present-day oceans average 2°C above past normal temperature.  Corals, needing constancy, do not adapt.  In their death throws, they expel their zooxanthellae.  This sensitivity makes corals the canaries in the coal mines.  They warn us of the impending doom of many of the earth’s less flexible organisms. The life sustaining zooxanthellae are being expelled from corals in all the world’s oceans.  The corals, bereft of their internal providers, die.  The condition is called bleaching.  In all the world’s oceans the green and gold colour of many coral reefs is gone, leaving a slimy white coating of dying polyps.”

(Eugene H. Kaplan, Sensuous Seas: Tales of a Marine Biologist).

SO that’s the end of the line.  It’s been such a fun ride from A to Z.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them.  I don’t think I fancy just looping round and starting at A all over again though.  But where to next?  Something new and exciting next week!


Word for Wednesday: Y is for yesteryear.

I was reading an online article from the Guardian newspaper yesterday about the changing face of the language of childhood.  Reflecting on it now, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it.

Apparently the editorial team at the Oxford University Press have made some amendments and updates for the forthcoming edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary, resulting in the removal of around fifty words relating to nature and the countryside.  Words such as magpie, newt, otter and hamster have been removed; replaced with words such as ‘cut and paste’, broadband and analogue.  All of these, of course, represent the increasingly digital world that our children are growing up in.

The changes have roused such passions that twenty eight notable authors, including Margaret Atwood, Andrew Motion and Michael Morpurgo amongst others, have written to the OUP expressing their concerns.

According to the Guardian, the signatories to the letter are:

‘ “profoundly alarmed” about the loss of a slew of words associated with the natural world from the Oxford Junior Dictionary, and their replacement with words “associated with the increasingly interior, solitary childhoods of today”.

[This is] “not just a romantic desire to reflect the rosy memories of our own childhoods onto today’s youngsters.  There is a shocking, proven connection between the decline in natural play and the decline in children’s wellbeing.”

“Will the removal of these words from the OJD ruin lives? Probably not,” say the authors. “But as a symptom of a widely acknowledged problem that is ruining lives, this omission becomes a major issue. The Oxford Dictionaries have a rightful authority and a leading place in cultural life. We believe the OJD should address these issues and that it should seek to help shape children’s understanding of the world, not just to mirror its trends.” ‘

This is not the first time that the OUP has faced a public outcry about changes to inclusions in the children’s dictionary.  In 2008, responding to a previous outcry, the response from OUP was that  “When you look back at older versions of dictionaries, there were lots of examples of flowers for instance. That was because many children lived in semi-rural environments and saw the seasons. Nowadays, the environment has changed.”


Yesteryear (noun).

  • last year 
  • time gone by
  • the recent past
  • last year, or the recent past, especially as nostalgically recalled.

Derivation: yesterday + year.  First known use: 1870.  According to dictionary.com it was coined 1870 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti from yester(day)  year.  He was translating from the French antan (from Latin anteannum “the year before”) in refrain by François Villon: Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?, which Rossetti rendered “But where are the snows of yesteryear?”

It makes me sad to think that there is almost a sense of resignation that many children of this generation are so detached from the natural world.  That it is okay for them to confine their horizons to computers, technology, and what happens within the home.

I respect the signatories for their commitment to protecting the resilience of our children’s wider language and their connection to the natural world.  But I do not think it is OUP’s responsibility – or any other publishing house for that matter – to choose words strategically, in an effort to change the way our children interact with their world.  Surely if that job belongs to anyone, it belongs to us as parents?

I also think that it would be wrong to try to stop the evolution of the language of childhood.  Of course they need to know words that we didn’t need to know when we were children; the world has changed since then!  But it is important to keep a mix of both the old and the new.  There is almost definitely room for both ‘magpie’ and ‘modem’ in their sponge-like little brains!


B is for buttercup!


Word for Wednesday: x is for xenial.

Today feels a bit sad day really, as my Dad took the long flight home to England after four lovely weeks as our house guest.  With the flight alone being a 34 hour round trip, friends and family from home who come visiting are always invited to stay as long as they can.  It is a very long, expensive journey to do as a short stay.

We love having guests and offering them our hospitality.  Brunei isn’t the most exciting place on any tourist map, but it is lovely to be able to share our everyday life, and the sights and sounds that we are used to with our nearest and dearest.

Most importantly, our little girl and her granddad have had an amazing time together and are thick as thieves now.  At least we have FaceTime, so we will be able to catch up with him again at the weekend, but I think she is going to get a bit of a shock when she wakes up tomorrow and her ‘gaggy’ isn’t there. Such is expat life I guess.

DSC_0832 (1)

I’ll admit I don’t have a raft of true ‘x’ words that sprang immediately to mind for this week’s challenge.  Although lots of unwanted ‘ex’ words broke through unbidden into my thought process!  Many true ‘x’ words are very technically to do with science or medicine, so when I stumbled upon xenial, I knew it was the perfect choice.

Xenial (adjective).

  • of, relating to, or constituting hospitality or relations between host and guest and especially among the ancient Greeks between persons of different cities / relationship / customs.
  • pertaining to hospitality.
  • hospitality, especially to visiting strangers.
  • the friendly relationship between a host and guest.

Word derivation: Greek xenios xenial (from xenos guest) + English -al

First known use: 1834.

“Xenial’ is a word which refers to the giving of gifts to strangers. . . . I know that having a good vocabulary doesn’t guarantee that I’m a good person. . . . But it does mean I’ve read a great deal. And in my experience, well-read people are less likely to be evil.”

(Lemony Snicket, The Slippery Slope).