PRONUNCIATION: (verb: di-KUHS-ayt, DEK-uh-sayt, adjective: di-KUHS-ayt, -it)
MEANING: verb tr.:
To intersect or to cross
1. Intersected or crossed in the form of an X
2. Arranged in pairs along the stem, each pair at a right angle to the one above or below
ETYMOLOGY: The word originated from Latin "as" (plural asses) which was a copper coin and the monetary unit in ancient Rome. The word for ten asses was decussis, from Latin decem (ten) + as (coin). Since ten is represented by X, this spawned the verb decussare, meaning to divide in the form of an X or intersect.
USAGE:"How I wished then that my body, too, if it had to droop and shrivel, for surely everyone's did, would furl and decussate with grace to sculpt the victory of my spirit."J. Nozipo Maraire; Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter; Delta; 1997.
PRONUNCIATION: (HEK-uh-toom, -tom)
MEANING: noun: A large-scale slaughter
ETYMOLOGY: Originally a hecatomb was a public sacrifice and feast of 100 oxen or cattle to the gods in ancient Greece and Rome. The word is derived from Latin hekatombe, from Greek hekatombe, from hekaton (hundred) + bous (ox). Another word derived from bous (ox) is boustrophedon.
USAGE:"The use of high-tech weapons will result in hecatombs, smart as the US bombs may be." Lost Values; Kathimerini (Athens, Greece); Mar 17, 2003.
PRONUNCIATION: (uh-TOHN, rhymes with phone)
MEANING: verb tr., intr.: To make amends for
ETYMOLOGY: From the contraction of the phrase "at one" meaning "to be in harmony"
USAGE: "While society must be protected from those who might pose it a threat, it is vital we let people get on with their lives once they have atoned." Éamonn Mac Aodha; Minor Offenders Need More Help to Escape Spectre of Past Crime; The Irish Times (Dublin); Apr 28, 2009.
PRONUNCIATION: (TES-uhr-uh; plural tesserae: TES-uhr-ee)
MEANING: noun: A small piece of stone, glass, or tile used to make a mosaic
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin, from Greek tesseres, variant of tessares (four), from the four corners of its square shape
USAGE: "Like red-stained tessera, the remnants of lost lives come together to compose a vast and shocking mosaic of contemporary life." Art Gould; Piecing It All Together; The Anniston Star (Alabama); May 10, 2009.
MEANING: adjective: Very large
ETYMOLOGY: From Latin decumanus, variant of decimanus (of the tenth), from decimus (tenth), from decem (ten). The word was often applied to waves from the belief that every tenth wave is greater than the others. The word also referred to the main gate of a military camp in ancient Rome. This gate faced away from the enemy and the tenth cohort of the legion was stationed there. A related word is decimate and a dean is, literally speaking, a chief of ten.
"The lover whose soul shaken is
In some decuman billow of bliss."
Francis Thompson; The Way of a Maid; c. 1890.