hieroglyph (hī(ə)rəˌglif )

My favorite place to go in Chicago is the Field Museum. During a recent visit, I found the Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit most interesting.  The exhibit includes an ancient, limestone tomb which our tour guide told us was Unis-Ankh’s real tomb. Unis-Ankh was the son of King Unis, the last pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt (2428- 2407 B.C.). We saw Unis-Ankh’s cartouche, which is a hieroglyphic name plate at the entry. Then we went inside to a little room and saw hieroglyphs all around us. A hieroglyph is a character in any system of writing that uses pictures. The word was originally used for the oldest system of writing Ancient Egyptian. Hieroglyph comes from the Greek roots hier meaning sacred and glyph meaning carve. Hieroglyphs are “sacred carvings!” There were hints of red on the wall, which the tour guide explained was from ochre. The limestone was protected with plexiglass in order to preserve the 5,000 year old stone. On the tour, I learned a lot about daily life in Ancient Egypt such as the fact that everyone, even kids, had to drink beer (or wine if they were rich), because the water from the River Nile was contaminated.  They traded for fruit, juice, beer and wine and other goods in the marketplace.  Egyptians wore little clothing, for the desert was hot, as you might imagine. I really enjoyed the exhibit and I definitely recommend going on the Inside Ancient Egypt tour if you are visiting the Field Museum.

psittacine (sitəˌsīn)

These colorful psittacines can be found at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans.

A psittacine is any bird of the parrot family. Psittacine comes from the Greek root psitt, meaning parrot and includes the suffix ending “ine” which means “of or related to”.  Psittacine technically means, of or relating to parrots. I chose this word because it has an unusual root that doesn’t show up in many words, and the silent “p” makes it tricky to spell.

A lot of linguists believe that Proto-Indo-European was the ursprache* of Indo-European languages, but we actually don’t know what Proto-Indo-European sounded like. In the link below, a linguist at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Andrew Byrd, gives his best approximation of what our ancestors may have spoken thousands of years ago. When I listened to it, I was amazed that someone could recreate the language! Let me know what you think!


*I wrote about the word ursprache here: https://thewordexplorer.wordpress.com/?s=Ursprache


Lepidoptera (le-pə-ˈdäp-tə-rə)


We planted a small butterfly garden many years ago and it is starting to bloom again. The garden attracts many beautiful butterflies such as Monarchs, Swallowtails, Viceroys, and Fritillaries. Butterflies and moths belong to a large group of insects called Lepidoptera.  Lepidoptera comes from the Greek roots lepid, meaning scale and pter, meaning wing. The word literally means “scaly wing”, and refers to the brightly colored, overlapping scales that make up the wings (and bodies) of these insects.

toxophilite (täk säfə līt)

I love the cool new bow I got for my birthday!

Yesterday was my first official day of summer vacation! I went to the archery range with my dad and we shot arrows together; it was fun! I am a true toxophilite. What is a toxophilite, you ask? A toxophilite is a lover of archery. Toxophilite is made up of two Greek roots, tox, meaning bow and phil, meaning love of. Two Greek elements usually link with “o.” Are you a toxophilite? If you are, let me know.