Sunday, May 18, 2014


Meaning: not involving the transfer of heat, or im-pass-able to heat. An adiabatic process is one in which no heat is exchanged. It's related to the First Law of Thermodynamics and consequently various other sciencey things, including weather. 

Logofascination: 2. I'm still on a science-word kick. If I have made any sense of what I've read*, the weather part kicks in where you have changes in temperature caused by changes in atmospheric pressure, as opposed to changes in temperature because heat has been added or removed (e.g. by a desert wind or an Antarctic wind, both of which you will get in an average Melbourne day).  Etymologically, it's from the Greek for "not to be passed through".

In the wild: Reading up on names of winds; wind-words are one of my special logofascinatorial sub-categories. The adiabatic process is influential in both a Foehn wind and a Katabatic wind.

Usefulness: 5, unless you can wangle it convincingly into a conversation with a scientist, or meteorologist. I am tempted to stretch it to my bedroom: an adiabatic chamber, impassable to heat.

*amateur translation here; let me know if it's not quite right. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Meaning: One quintillionth* of one second; a nanosecond is a mere billionth of a second.

Logofascination: 2. I find the specificity of science words fascinating (though see below re: quintillion); yoctosecond and zeptosecond sound rather like someone made them up. I suspect whoever got to pick the prefixes for those ones went looking for the interesting sounds. In this case, atto- is from the Danish for 18.

In the wild: In a gorgeous Nautilus piece on the speed of photography - apparently we're getting close to attosecond exposures.

Usefulness: 2. When a nanosecond is just too long: "I will be with you in an attosecond."

*to a certain value of quintillion. It's like billions - it depends who you ask.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Meaning: It seems to be both the crimped hem on a pastry and the pattern crimped into it. It's from Argentinian Spanish, since the repulgue lets you know what's inside your empanada.

Logofascination: 2, for the 'word for everything' factor. Of course, English has words for it; rather than hemming (repulgar, the source for repulgue) we have fluting* and crimping. Where repulgue goes a step further is that it has become a specific noun; repulgar is hemming of fabrics and of pastry, repulgue is the pastry hem.

In the wild: In the lovely-looking Argentinian Street Food, launched in Melbourne today on a sea of Malbec with a fleet of empanadas.

Or maybe just three. Braiding for the beef, lines for the leek-and-Roquefort.
No repulgue for chorizo, perhaps because you could see the filling?
Usefulness: 4, unless eating empanadas (coming soon to a food truck near you) or pasty/ies. Of course, you do now have another 'did you know there's a word for..?'.

* On fluting, I am rather fascinated that a slightly obscure architectural term has been preserved in a very specific cooking term, not to mention back-formed into the verb 'to flute'.