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Navicular! Strobilaceous! Pandurate! Botryoidal!
July 29, 2014 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Whether your object's shaped like a ship, a pine cone, a violin, or a bunch of grapes, this handy cheat sheet from Barbara Ann Kipfer's Flip Dictionary will tell you the suitable Latinate adjective.

Some of the terms see most of their use in the realm of plant morphology. This visual guide illustrates how they apply to the shapes of leaves; you can practice applying that vocabulary to American tree leaves here.
posted by Iridic (17 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh fun! Scaphoid is also the name of one of your carpal bones which is, I suppose if I squint at it, reasonably boat-shaped.
posted by phunniemee at 12:52 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


I was really hoping the fusiform gyrus was so named because it was shaped like a gun (un fusil), but apparently fusiform means "spindle-shaped". Lame!
posted by Jpfed at 12:54 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


A football (American variant) is often referred to poetically as a prolate spheroid, but that's really not accurate, as a football is too "pointy" on the ends. I don't think there really is a word for the shape other than "football-shaped".
posted by Rock Steady at 1:08 PM on July 29


bicuspic spheroid?
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:12 PM on July 29


For "cone-shaped" it gives "fastigate," though it seems like the (non-Latinate I suppose) "conical" would do better unless discussing trees and shrubs. The linked google books preview is missing context so I wonder if the cheat sheet is for botanical forms. I was looking for the related frustoconical, one of my favorite words, from the Latin frustum.
posted by exogenous at 1:19 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Very fun - thanks for posting this! We should all start referring to Doritos as "sphenic."
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:29 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Which, in turn, reminds me that my grandparents used to have a cat that my mom (taking an anatomy class) had named Sphenoid, for his facial markings.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:32 PM on July 29


The great thing about most of these words is that you can make them up as you go along. Just nick a word from a Latin dictionary and stick -ate or -form on the end. If you screw it up nobody will ever know.
posted by Thing at 1:38 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


The linked google books preview is missing context so I wonder if the cheat sheet is for botanical forms.

I don't believe there's any additional context. Flip Dictionary is a hybrid of a thesaurus and a crossword dictionary, with little curated tables of words (like this one) strewn throughout the pages.

As exogenous said, this list was likely sourced from forestry vocab and medical terminology. It's not a comprehensive run-down of either, but it is more comprehensive than any other list* I was able to find in a good bit of searching.

*There is this big old pile of Wordnik entries, but you'll have to provide the definitions yourself.
posted by Iridic at 1:41 PM on July 29


Thing: The great thing about most of these words is that you can make them up as you go along. Just nick a word from a Latin dictionary and stick [something] on the end. If you screw it up nobody will ever know.

You just invented Romance languages!
posted by Rock Steady at 1:52 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]


Just nick a word from a Latin dictionary and stick -ate or -form on the end. If you screw it up nobody will ever know.

agriculate: farmer-shaped
barbuliform: having the shape of a small beard
xysticate: shaped like a covered walkway

Hey, it works!
posted by Foosnark at 2:04 PM on July 29 [6 favorites]


When I took a field botany course we played guess-the-meaning out of the Botanical Latin Dictionary.

It's more fun than it sounds?
posted by pemberkins at 2:16 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Neat! The navicular is the scaphoid of the foot!
posted by pajamazon at 2:17 PM on July 29


Snarkiform: resembling a Metafilter post.
posted by yoink at 3:59 PM on July 29 [4 favorites]


Phaseolipatellate: Resembling a plate of beans
posted by erniepan at 4:30 PM on July 29 [8 favorites]


Very fun - thanks for posting this! We should all start referring to Doritos as "sphenic."

As in, "Chris Evans has a sphenic shoulder to waist ratio"?
posted by NoraReed at 9:48 PM on July 29


I showed this to a coworker, who commented "hard core!"

"Surely you mean 'duronuclear'", I replied.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:58 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


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