Weekend Word Wrap: word hall-of-mirrors

David K. Israel

Have you ever thrown away a garbage can? My wife and I recently moved to a new house and found ourselves throwing out several old garbage cans. It's kind of funny to think the thing you used to collect garbage has to be tossed in a larger garbage container.

Likewise, there are words that are used to describe aspects of themselves which I find equally entertaining. Etymology is a good one. Ever wonder what the etymology of etymology is? Well, it's from a Middle English word: etimologie, which is from an Old French word: ethimologie, which can be traced back to the Latin etymologia, which, as you might have already guessed, goes back to the Ancient Greek, etumologia. Etumologia has two roots: etumon, or "true sense" and logia, or "the study of."

Another good one might be when someone uses the word question as a question. For example, the other day I was telling my writing students that they should avoid clichés unless they're using them in dialogue, because, well, people really do speak in clichés; so there's nothing wrong with that. One of my students raised his hand and asked, "Question?"

I nodded and he went and asked away. But the idea here is that the word for a question became a question, as in: "David, can I ask a question, please?"

Can any of you loyal Wrap readers think of some other hall-of-mirror-type words?