A natural follow-up to our ‘love and lust’ theme is a ‘pregnancy’ theme. [As Ogden Nash says of June brides, “This year’s June is next year’s Junior.” Right about this time of year, too.] Our theme, like pregnancy, goes from Z to A, or more exactly, from zygote to accouchement. Our beginning word is from the extreme end of the dictionary.
zygote – the cell resulting from the fusion of egg and sperm [from Greek zugotos ‘yoked’]
– Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts
. . .An ectopic pregnancy can't proceed normally. About one in every 40 to 100 pregnancies is ectopic.
– CNN International - Dec 21, 2005
ectopic – in an abnormal place or position. [Greek ektopos ‘out of place’]
Apart from the familiar terms ‘trimester’ and ‘morning sickness’, there are few words pertaining to the mid-months of pregnancy. Here’s one.
chloasma – a patchy brown skin discoloration
[particularly occurs on a woman's face from hormonal changes of pregnancy. from Greek for ‘green’]
– Michael Knight, Ellen’s Book, in New Stories from the South 2003 (Shannon Ravenel, editor)
tocology – the science of childbirth; midwifery or obstetrics
Recently, a Missouri legislator took advantage of the fact that this word is almost never used. He inserted, in a bill regarding services covered by medical insurance, permission for services from
– Columbia [Missouri] Tribune, Midwifery play draws reprimand; 'Snuck-in' clause reaches [Governor] Blunt’s Desk, May 15, 2007
Today’s word has two very different senses, each from the concept of ‘to gird; to encircle closely’.
enceinte – 1. pregnant 2. a fortification encircling a castle or town; also, the area protected
– Georgia Straight (Vancouver, CA), Feb. 11, 2004 (ellipses omitted)
May 13, 1565 Castel Sant'Angelo-The Borgo-Malta: The largest armada since antiquity, bearing the finest army in the modern world, had been dispatched by Suleiman Shah to conquer Malta. Turkish success would expose southern Europe to a wave of Islamic terror. … The Borgo was barricaded from the mainland by a huge, curving enceinte – a curtain wall studded with defensive bastions and teeming with knights and militia at their drill.
– Tim Willocks, The Religion, as serialized in New York Times, May 20, 2007
gravid – pregnant
A nice simile today.
– Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men
Actually, I think gravid is more general than pregnant. I have only heard gravid used to refer to female animals that were full of fertilized eggs (which you wouldn't call pregnant) but it appears to encompass pregnancy as well.
I've also seen gravid used metaphorically to describe dark, heavy clouds that were about to drop rain.
Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
From Kurt Vonnegut:
He was a portly man, aslop with coffee, gravid with Danish pastry. Poor, lugubrious Fred spent his mornings seeking insurance prospects in the drugstore
www.scribd.com/doc/41441/Kurt-Vonnegut-God-Bless-You-Mr-Rosewater - 769k -
Let’s face it: pregancy is uncomfortable, and a woman can rightly think, “Men! They don’t have to lug this load around for months!” So our lady readers may appreciate an animal where the male carries the developing eggs, wrapped around his legs.
midwife toad – a certain genus of toad of Western Europe, in which the males carry a string of fertilised eggs
You’ll find the midwife toad on the Guardian’s list of World's Weirdest Amphibians. On that list I also liked the olm (a blind salamander with transparent skin that lives underground and can survive without food for 10 years) and the Chinese giant salamander (which can be 1.8m long, more than 5 feet).
I’d promised you pregnancy “from Z to A, from zygote to accouchement.” But since accoucheuse (midwife) has already been our word of the day a few years ago, I’ll just direct you to it, and offer a different 'pregnancy' word.
parturient – in labor; about to give birth (parturition – the action of giving birth; childbirth)
First used in reference to a saying of Horace: parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus, “The mountain has labored and brought forth a ridiculous mouse;” meaning “great labor but little result.”
– Margaret Mead, Blackberry Winter, in Modern American Memoirs (Cort Conley, co-editor, and Annie Dillard, editor)