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April 24, 2014

Word of the Day

  • fissiparous
  • audio pronunciation
  • \fih-SIP-uh-rus\
  • DEFINITION

adjective

1 : tending to break up into parts 2 : creating disunity or dissension : divisive

  • EXAMPLE

The election for class president had a fissiparous effect on the school as students took sides for their favorite candidate.

"In Calvinism: A History, D.G. Hart … shows how Protestantism's fissiparous nature has allowed it to adapt and, in some instances, transmogrify to fit local and personal needs." — From a book review by Michael P. Orsi in the Washington Times (Washington D.C.), December 12, 2013

  • DID YOU KNOW?

When it first entered English in the 19th century, "fissiparous" was concerned with reproduction. In biology, a fissiparous organism is one that produces new individuals by fission; that is, by dividing into separate parts, each of which becomes a unique organism. (Most strains of bacteria do this.) Both "fissiparous" and "fission" trace back to Latin "findere" ("to split"). The second part of "fissiparous" is rooted in Latin "parere" ("to give birth to" or "to produce"). Other "parere" offspring refer to other forms of reproduction, including "oviparous" ("producing eggs that hatch outside the body") and "viviparous" ("producing living young instead of eggs"). By the end of the 19th century "fissiparous" had acquired a figurative meaning, describing something that breaks into parts or causes something else to break into parts.

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