Day: April 9, 2014

Wacky Word Wednesday: Syzygy

There’s just one word in the English language with three ‘y’s. That word is syzygy – pronounced siz-uh-jee. It’s a word that astronomists would most likely be familiar with, and possibly even poets.

The Macquarie Dictionary lists one definition as “the conjunction or opposition of two heavenly bodies; a point in the orbit of a body, as the moon, at which it is in conjunction with or in opposition to the sun.” Other references suggest syzygy actually describes the alignment of three celestial bodies – something that happens when there’s a full or new moon.

The unique thing about the definition of syzygy is that it describes both opposition and conjunction with the sun. The original meaning of the word only applied to conjunctions – when the moon is between the Earth and the sun. It came from the Latin suzugia and the Greek suzugos, which meant “yoked or paired”.

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