Tuesday, April 19, 2005

an etymological argument

I was showing AH one of my three Rings of Power, the one that has a dull grey metallic look, and I told him that it was a typical tourist ring because this kind of stuff is mostly available in airport stores and Australiana shops. It's made of Haematite, and I kinda chided him that he should have at least guessed that haematite was iron ore. To illustrate the point I referred to Haemoglobin (AH is also a biologist), and that he could have connected the iron atom containing structure of the molecule to the 'haemo' part of the ore. But he countered that Haemo refers to the red colour of blood. I replied that red is erythro and cannot possibly be Haemo. He dug up another biological example, saying that the Red rumped parrot is also known as Psephotus haematonotus, and the haemo refers to the red ..well, rump. We had reached an impasse, and to resolve the argument, we fled to our respective computers. I verified the red rumpedness of the red-rumped parrot. Doubts started to creep in. I checked an online latin dictionary, but it told me what I already knew, the latin for iron is Ferreus. Well, I reasoned, maybe its Greek. But the Greek dictionary told me that the word of Iron was Sidiros. Now I was thoroughly confused. What the hell was Haemo anyway? In desperation, I went to the Online Etymological dictionary, which kindly told me that AH was right, sort of, all this while and that Haemetite is 1543, from M.Fr. hematite, from L. hæmatites, from Gk. haimatites lithos "bloodlike stone," from haima (gen. haimatos) "blood."