Saturday, May 11, 2013


Meaning: A bdelloid rotifer of the genus Philodina or family Philodinidae. (Straight from the OED: I don't know enough to try and write it myself).

Usefulness: 1 (Besides rotifers being ridiculously interesting - in a really geeky way - philodine could well mean a love of whirling, or a whirl of love, either of which is useful.)

Logofascination: 1 (If you can resist saying 'bdelloid rotifer' aloud, you should probably stop reading this blog.  The OED etymology for philodine merely points out that it's from philo- and dinus, the Greek for whirling or vertigo. Rotifers are very, very tiny and very, very interesting - for starters they are technically animals despite being so tiny, and for seconds the Bdelloidea* have managed to survive for 80 millions years despite reproducing asexually. Since this isn't a science blog, I will stop there and point out that however much I like the idea that a biologist named them lovers of whirling, it's also possibly it is, etymologically, something more like the 'whirling family', or 'family of whirlers'.**)

In the wild: The philodine themselves are everywhere, but this being the internet, there are a number of fan pages.

Degrees: 2 (They were only discovered in 1696, after all)

Connections: Philodine - whirl

Which is used in: Book the Third, XVII: How Panurge spoke to the Sibyl of Panzoust. Yesterday's post mentioned the treachery of words; we are a few chapters earlier here, and see the actions of the Sibyl's prophecy which prompted that debate.
The old trot for a while remained silent, pensive, and grinning like a dog; then, after she had set her withered breech upon the bottom of a bushel, she took into her hands three old spindles, which when she had turned and whirled betwixt her fingers very diversely and after several fashions, she pried more narrowly into, by the trial of their points, the sharpest whereof she retained in her hand, and threw the other two under a stone trough.

*So named because some of them crawl like leeches, bdella in Greek - one of the rare bd- words.
**Due to the cilia around their mouths, which give the appearance of spinning.

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