Word of the Day


20140508-081943.jpg

cataract \KAT-uh-rakt\
noun1 : a clouding of the lens of the eye or of its surrounding transparent membrane that obstructs the passage of light 2 a : waterfall; especially : a large one over a precipice b : steep rapids in a river c : downpour, flood
Examples:
“Kale contains tons of beta-carotene and lutein which can ward off blindness and cataracts caused by UV rays.” — From an article by Brian Arola in the Hibbing Daily Tribune (Minnesota), April 3, 2014

“After a broken cataract of about twenty feet, the stream was received in a large natural basin filled to the brim with water, which, where the bubbles of the fall subsided, was so exquisitely clear that … the eye could discern each pebble at the bottom.” — From Sir Walter Scott’s 1814 novel Waverley
Did you know?
The meaning of “cataract” we’re most familiar with is also the oldest. It dates to the 14th century and comes from the Latin word “cataracta,” meaning “portcullis,” probably because the ocular cataract obstructs vision in a way reminiscent of the way the portcullis’s heavy iron grating obstructs passage into a fortress or castle. Latin “cataracta” has another meaning, however—”waterfall”—and that meaning gave us the water-related meanings that came in later centuries. The connection between the two Latin meanings can be seen in “katarassein,” the Greek source of “cataracta.” It means “to dash down”—an action we see in both the slamming portcullis and the cascading waterfall.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s