July 8, 2013

Case File #013.07.08: INSECT

As any grade-schooler can tell you, an insect is a small six-legged arthropod with a segmented body consisting of a head, a thorax, and an abdomen. Now, if you've ever looked closely at an insect yourself, you know that its body segments are each so well defined that it almost appears as if the little bugger has been chopped into three discrete pieces, and you therefore shouldn't be surprised to learn that insect is a cutting word. Etymologically speaking, that is. First appearing in the English lexicon around 1600, the noun insect was derived from the Latin verb insectus, which is itself a past participle of insecare, meaning “to cut up” or “to slice into parts.”

©2013 Michael R. Gates

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