X is for…


Warm greetings, my dear readers, from an unseasonably chilly Ottawa. Today, I’d like to present the next instalment in my Vocabulary Series, the lovely letter X. There aren’t a lot of words that begin with this letter, but there are certainly some interesting ones. So let’s have a look.

All three of the words I’ve chosen are adjectives, probably because they are the most fun. This first word will make you sound very fancy, especially if you use it the next time you’re at an art gallery.

Xanthic (adjective)

Etymology:   First documented in English in 1817. Comes from the French xanthique, which in turn comes from the Greek xanthos, meaning yellow.

Definition:    Yellowish.

Example:   After catching a glimpse of the zombie horde, Xander looked a little xanthic.


My second word choice is one I’d never heard before. Not only is its meaning pretty neat, but it’s also a lot of fun to say!

Xerophilous (adjective)

Etymology:   First appears in the 1860s, meaning drought-loving. Comes from combining the Greek words xero-, meaning dry or withered, and philous, meaning loving.

Definition:   Adapted to a very dry climate or habitat, or to conditions where moisture is scarce (used for both plants and animals).

Example:   Desert zombies are xerophilous, while swamp zombies prefer a much moister habitat.


And my final word choice is another fun word to say out loud. Plus it has a cool connection to the human body.

Xiphoid (adjective)

Etymology:   First appears in the 1740s. Comes from combining the Greek word xiphos, meaning sword, and the Latin suffix –oid, meaning like or like that. The suffix –oid comes from the Greek suffix –oeides, which comes from the word eidos, meaning form.

I chose this word because the xiphoid process is one of my favourite anatomical terms. It’s a piece of cartilage at the bottom of your sternum that plays the important role of anchoring a bunch of muscles, including your abdominal diaphragm, which is kind of important in helping you breathe. And, unsurprisingly, your xiphoid process is shaped like the tip of a sword.

Definition:   Sword-shaped.

Example:   Frantically, Xander searched the abandoned house for something sharp and xiphoid.


As always, etymological information and definitions come from a combination of the Oxford Dictionary of Etymological English, the Oxford Dictionaries Online, and the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Image credit:  byPiPa @ deviantART

10 thoughts on “X is for…

  1. Thank you for a fun and informative post! One of my garden practices is called “xeriscape.” This is a landscape technique that conserves water by using native plants and prairie grasses that don’t require very much rain. It’s the perfect fix for states with low rainfall and/or haphazard gardeners like me who don’t like to water 🙂

    1. That is so cool! I should have had a garden like that 2 years ago, when we experienced a drought. This year, however, it’s the opposite. I’ve barely had to water and there is practically a jungle in my backyard! 🙂

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