A-Z April 2012

X is for ….X?

X is for ….X?

I’ve have spent the month of April absolutely dreading today because we have finally arrived at the letter “X”. What to write about, other than the obvious??

I have thought about people beginning with X (Xena Warrior Princess anyone?), places beginning with X (mostly provinces and remote villages in China), food beginning with X (nope, can’t think of a thing…), processes beginning with X (X-rays – had a lot of those over the years) and so on but to come up with a suitable and acceptable post about the letter X I have decided to give you a (very) potted linguistics lesson instead.

Did you know that the prefix “xylo-” denotes that what follows is to with wood? I didn’t until I did my research for this post! For example, I knew that a xylophone was a musical instrument made out of wooden bars, but I didn’t really appreciate that the word is a mashup of “xylo” meaning wood, and “phone” meaning sound. I kind of knew it, but I didn’t kind of know it, if you get me? I just found out that the word for printing using wooden blocks is “xylotypgraphic”. Another one for you is “xylophilus” meaning a lover of wood, and finally, my favourite new word EVER is “xylomancy” meaning divination using wood. Brilliant!

Whilst researching this post I couldn’t really ignore the “xeno-” prefix because apart from there being so many of them in the dictionary, the only long word I could think of (pre-research) was “xenophobia”. I didn’t really think you’d be interested in a whole post about that word, but I couldn’t really leave it out neither. It’s another mashup, this time of “xeno” meaning “something/one strange or foreign” and “phobia” meaning “fear of”. I knew what the phobia part was (obviously) but the xeno part was new to me. There are a couple of words that stand out from the list of xenos that I want to share with you: “xenomania” an attachment to something foreign or strange; “xenogenous” meaning due to an outside cause and finally, “xenolith” meaning a fragment of extraneous rock embedded in magma or another rock. I knew that a monolith was a single rock but never really appreciated that “lith” would mean rock…but there again, I’m a bit dopey sometimes!

I managed to avoid a rant discussion about the X-Factor (yay me!) and I also managed having to write about eXcite, the indoor ski-centre near here as well so kudos to the Pamster for researching – and learning – something new for this post today.

That is one of the main reasons why I started blogging in the first place, to learn new things, so I can honestly say that today is MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

Just as an aside, I have got my subject for tomorrow (the letter Y) but I’ve only got 2 days to think up/research the letter Z. I don’t want to rely on writing about the zebra, so any ideas from you dear reader would be most welcome.

Thank you!



10 thoughts on “X is for ….X?”

  1. Xylo – excellent pub quiz material, because it sounds nothing like it is. Though perhaps it’s obvious to people who learned Latin at school (not me).
    You didn’t mention X-certificate – which I suppose doesn’t really exist anymore. By coincidence, I’ll be revealing a slightly embarrassing encounter with it over the weekend.


  2. My father played piano; the band always practiced at our house and I was fascinated by the xylophone. I would sit outside under the window and listen for hours.

    How ’bout zenith, zero or zest for the Z word?

    Blessings – Maxi


    1. I can play the xylophone and it has a gorgeous tone. Thank you for your suggestions for Z too. I like the idea of “zenith”, especially as it’s the end of the challenge. Hmmm *strokes chin thoughtfully*, you have given me food for thought!


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