titivil · /TIT-i-vil/ · /ˈtɪtɪvɪl/. noun. A demon said to record peoples’ sins to be used against them on Judgment Day, specifically collecting a sack of syllables dropped, skipped or mumbled during divine services and the idle gossip and chatter of churchgoers during services. Later, more generally, a gossip, a scoundrel, or a tattletale. AKA Tutivillus, Titivillus. Origin unknown. See also: knave, rogue, swindler, scallywag, busybody.[Read more…]
teratology · /tayr-ə-TOL-ə-jee/ · /tɛrəˈtɒlədʒi/. noun. The study of physical abnormalities, gross defects, and the conditions that give rise to them. From Greek prefix *terato-* (of or pertaining to monsters), from Greek teras (monster or monstrosity). See also: teratoid, teratophobia, teratophilia, teratogenetic, teratoma, teratical.[Read more…]
tenebrous /TEN-ə-brəs/ /’tɛnɪbrəs/. adjective. Gloomy, shadowy, full or darkness. From Latin tenebrae (darkness).[Read more…]
twin /TWIN/. noun or adjective. One of two born at the same birth. One very like another. As an adjective: two-fold or double.
tribology /triy-BAWL-ə-jee/. noun. The study of fiction, lubrication and wear between interacting surfaces. From Greek tribos (rubbing) + -logy (suffix indicating science, study, theory).
tropism /TROH-pizm/. noun. The movement of an organism in reaction to some stimulus. Instinctual tendencies.
A lot of words have come to us from science fiction, such as robot, coined by Karel Čapek in his influential play “R.U.R.” (or Rossum’s Universal Robots) as well as now common scientific and popular terms like Zero-G and cyberspace.
But sometimes a word evolves to more literary uses, such as this episode’s word: triffid /TRIF-id/ noun. Generally speaking, a triffid is a vigorous, rapidly-developing, usually invasive plant. But in its original use, these plants were also mobile, malignant and carnivorous, with a sting demonstrably capable of killing humans. These were the plants John Wyndham was describing when he coined the term in his 1951 novel The Day of the Triffids. (Incidentally, Wyndham writes that the word evolved from the “etymological gymkhana” around the combination of “tri” (three) and “it…”