Word of the Week - Archive page 7

Use the links below to navigate to the previous words of the week....

Words found on this page:


meaning - being chubby and somewhat squat.

A fubsy little baby  - courtesy of stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/)

This week's word is a marvellous little word - fubsy. It is an obscure word that comes from the Old English word fubs (used in the late 18th century). It is an adjective which mean short and chubby. Isn't it wonderful?!

This week's word was courtesy of my brother James Campbell, who isn't fubsy in the slightest. I think that babies are an excellent example of the definition of fubsy. The popular fictional character Billy Bunter would also be an ideal example of a fubsy personage.

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Accolade and Degradation

A lady and her knight  - courtesy of stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/)

This week's word of the week is a double whammy! These words will be fairly familiar to most people but perhaps their original meaning will come as a bit of a surprise. These are both terms related to knighthood.

Accolade according to the dictionary is used to mean "anything done or given as a sign of great respect, approval, appreciation, etc. words of praise". It was first recorded in 1623 and is a French word from the Provencal acolada which in turn was from the latin ad- "to" + collum "neck". The original sense of the word is of an embrace about the neck or the tapping of a sword on the shoulders to confer knighthood. The meaning of accolade was extended to mean "praise, award" from 1852.

Generally people would be more familiar with the word "dubbing" which also means to confer a knighthood, and since the shoulder tap is accepted to be the point at which the title is awarded the word dub and accolade can have the same meaning. As an interesting aside clergy receiving a knighthood are not dubbed, as the use of a sword is thought inappropriate for their calling. You can find lots of information on knighthoods if you are interested on the official Royal Insight webpage.

The word degradation, as you might guess from this week's theme, is also historically related to knighthoods and more specifically to their removal. Because the office of knighthood was treated with so much regard, taking on aspects of holy devotion, to be forsworn and stripped of knighthood was a purposefully traumatic experience. The king could make the determination to remove knighthood from a man, as could certain courts. In nearly all instances, the degraded man's spurs were 'hacked from his heels', his sword broken (sometimes over his head), his cote of arms burned, and his shield hung upside down in a church or other public place. Often this disgrace was matched with a death sentence, for such knights were often charged with and found guilty of treason. Treason, cowardice, and being forsworn were reasons often cited for the degradation, though it appears to have been rarely used. The last public degradation was in 1621 at Westminster Hall, when Sir Francis Mitchell was found guilty of 'grievous exactions' and had his spurs broken and thrown away, his belt cut and his sword broken over his head. Finally, he was pronounced to be 'no longer a Knight but Knave'.

Other more recent examples of degradation from honours are when Sir Roger Casement had his knighthood cancelled during the First World War for treason. He was later executed. In 1979 Sir Anthony Blunt, a former Surveyor of The Queen's pictures, also had his knighthood withdrawn for espionage. Currently, a person may be stripped of his knighthood should he be convicted of a criminal offence by a Court of Justice.

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This entry is taken from Wikipedia

Metempsychosis is a philosophical term in the Greek language referring to the belief of transmigration of the soul, especially its reincarnation after death. It is a doctrine popular among a number of Dharmic Religions of the East such as Hinduism and Jainism wherein an individual incarnates from one body to another, either human, animal, or plant. Generally the term is only used within the context of Greek Philosophy, but has also been used by modern philosophers such as Schopenhauer; otherwise the phrase transmigration is more appropriate. The word also plays a prominent role in James Joyce's Ulysses. Another term sometimes used synonymously is Palingenesia.

Metempsychosis in Greek Philosophy

Plato - courtesy of stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/)

It is unclear how the doctrine of metempsychosis arose in Greece; most scholars do not believe it was borrowed from Egypt or that it somehow was transmitted from ancient Hindu thinkers of India. It is easiest to assume that earlier ideas which had never been extinguished were utilized for religious and philosophic purposes. The Orphic religion, which held it, first appeared in Thrace upon the semi-barbarous north-eastern frontier. Orpheus, its legendary founder, is said to have taught that soul and body are united by a compact unequally binding on either; the soul is divine, immortal and aspires to freedom, while the body holds it in fetters as a prisoner. Death dissolves this compact, but only to re-imprison the liberated soul after a short time: for the wheel of birth revolves inexorably. Thus the soul continues its journey, alternating between a separate unrestrained existence and fresh reincarnation, round the wide circle of necessity, as the companion of many bodies of men and animals." To these unfortunate prisoners Orpheus proclaims the message of liberation, that they stand in need of the grace of redeeming gods and of Dionysus in particular, and calls them to turn to God by ascetic piety of life and self-purification: the purer their lives the higher will be their next reincarnation, until the soul has completed the spiral ascent of destiny to live for ever as God from whom it comes. Such was the teaching of Orphism which appeared in Greece about the 6th century BC, organized itself into private and public mysteries at Eleusis and elsewhere, and produced a copious literature.

The earliest Greek thinker with whom metempsychosis is connected is Pherecydes; but Pythagoras, who is said to have been his pupil, is its first famous philosophic exponent. Pythagoras probably neither invented the doctrine nor imported it from Egypt, but made his reputation by bringing Orphic doctrine from North-Eastern Hellas to Magna Graecia and by instituting societies for its diffusion.

The real weight and importance of metempsychosis in Western tradition is due to its adoption by Plato. Had he not embodied it in some of his greatest works it would be merely a matter of curious investigation for the Western anthropologist and student of folk-lore. In the eschatological myth which closes the Republic he tells the story how Er, the son of Armenius, miraculously returned to life on the twelfth day after death and recounted the secrets of the other world. After death, he said, he went with others to the place of Judgment and saw the souls returning from heaven and from purgatory, and proceeded with them to a place where they chose new lives, human and animal. He saw the soul of Orpheus changing into a swan, Thamyras becoming a nightingale, musical birds choosing to be men, the soul of Atalanta choosing the honours of an athlete. Men were seen passing into animals and wild and tame animals changing into each other. After their choice the souls drank of Lethe and then shot away like stars to their birth. There are myths and theories to the same effect in other dialogues, the Phaedrus, Meno, Phaedo, Timaeus and Laws. In Plato's view the number of souls was fixed; birth therefore is never the creation of a soul, but only a transmigration from one body to another. Plato's acceptance of the doctrine is characteristic of his sympathy with popular beliefs and desire to incorporate them in a purified form into his system. Aristotle, a far less emotional and sympathetic mind, has a doctrine of immortality totally inconsistent with it.

In later Greek literature the doctrine appears from time to time; it is mentioned in a fragment of Menander (the Inspired Woman) and satirized by Lucian (Gallus 18 seq.). In Roman literature it is found as early as Ennius, who in his Calabrian home must have been familiar with the Greek teachings which had descended to his times from the cities of Magna Graecia. In a lost passage of his Annals, a Roman history in verse, Ennius told how he had seen Homer in a dream, who had assured him that the same soul which had animated both the poets had once belonged to a peacock. Persius in one of his satires (vi. 9) laughs at Ennius for this: it is referred to also by Lucretius (i. 124) and by Horace (Epist. II. i. 52). Virgil works the idea into his account of, the Underworld in the sixth book of the Aeneid (vv. 724 sqq.). It persists in antiquity down to the latest classic thinkers, Plotinus and the other Neoplatonists.

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The suggestion for this weeks word actually originated in a discussion about the word 'outwith' which I personally have been using for years without ever knowing that it is in fact a regional Scots word, and not an English word at all. In Scots 'outwith' is used to literally mean outside. Example could be "that goal is outwith the scope of this project", "you cannot live outwith the law". Outwith is a corruption of the English word 'without' but unlike without its meaning is quite clear.

The English without originated in the Old English word withutan, which is whith + 'utan', utan meaning outside from the Old English 'ut' meaning out. Therefore the original meaning of the word without was outside. This meaning has now been superceded by the far more commonly used secondary meaning where without is a function word to indicate the absence or lack of something or someone.

Therefore there can be a lot of confusion whenever the original usage of without is seen. For example, Melvyn Bragg wrote a novel entitled "Without a City Wall" which was about a man who chooses to leave London for the isolation of a Northumbrian village in an attempt to discover a lifestyle in which he can believe. It is not, as most people would read the title, a story about a man who doesn't have a city wall!

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A grumpy baby   - courtesy of stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/)

This week's word is curmudgeon, which means an ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions. To be curmudgeonly is to be "brusque and surly and forbidding". According to Jon Winokur, author of "The Big Curmudgeon: 2,500 Outrageously Irreverent Quotations from World-Class Grumps and Cantankerous Commentators", the definition of a curmudgeon is:

"Curmudgeon: Anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner"

This word is similar to a previous word of the week - Irascible.

"Curmudgeon" is also a song by the American grunge band, Nirvana. It is a B-side on their 1992 single for the song, "Lithium".

In other interesting facts I offer you a link to The Curmudgeon's Home Companion which claims to be:
"The one food publication that speaks out about the virtues of cholesterol, rips the veil off the insanity of {...} the dangers of low-fat fodder, and that tells the ugly truth about restaurant food that's more art than edible."

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Austen, she knew a lot about persuasion   - courtesy of stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/)

This week's chosen word is a wonderfully archaic one, Plerophory. It means fullness, in terms of conviction or persuasion. It is the state of being fully persuaded.

I came across this word when reading John Wyndhams "The Kraken Wakes" recently (which is brilliant!) which was so full of new and interesting words that several of them might appear here given time. I'm now reading Jane Austen's "Persuasion" (which is also fabulous) so plerophory is an appropriate word at the moment!

I have managed to dig out a few quotes containing this week's word. Here are the ones I found:

Quotes of the Week:

"The peace of a good conscience, and the plerophory of faith."
- John Trapp (Bible commentary, 1647)

"For there is an extraordinary variety of seemingly innocent objects.. by which men have elected to give what an old anonymous writer.. pleonastically calls 'the fulness of plerophory of confirmation.'"
- W. H. Olding, The Gentleman's Magazine, Oaths and the Law (1899)

"To forbear, in some measure, that plerophory of cocksureness with which he habitually dogmatizes."
- Fitzedward Hall, The Nation (1893)

"...my distrust and hatred of vehicles in motion is partly based on my plerophory that their apparent submission to control is illusory and that they may at their pleasure, and sooner or later will, act on whim."
- Rex Stout, Some Buried Caesar (1938)

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A minatory dog   - courtesy of stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/)

This weeks word of the weak means "Of a menacing or threatening nature; minacious". It can also be used to describe something which gives warning of impending danger or misfortune. It has a similar meaning to the word 'ominous' and 'sinister' in this case and is derived from the Latin minatus, past participle of minari, meaning 'to threaten'.

An example of this week's word is:

"The minatory stance of the dog warned the thief of an attack"

Quote of the Week:

"The heavy gilding of the spines, seen through the fine gilt grilled of the carved and gilded bookcases, created a mood of minatory opulence"
from "The Line of Beauty" by Alan Hollinghurst p.47

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"Galoot" is an old word used in Scotland that means a person with an ungainly, cumbersome, and clumsy personality (eg. "ouch! ...ya big galoot, watch where yer goin' !" ). A galoot is a bumbling fool, a slow witted person, someone who is awkward, clumsy or gangly.

'Galoot' is a word used by the cartoon character Yosemite Sam - he frequently refers to Bugs Bunny as a 'idjut lop-eared galoot'. The famous cartoon character Desperate Dan, a mainstay of Dundee's "The Dandy" comic book, was often referred to as a big galoot. Dan had to shave his stubble with a blowtorch and was very fond of cow-pies, which were whole cows baked in a pie!

An antique saw   - courtesy of stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/)Another, less well know use of the word galoot is found within Internet-based woodworking communities. a galoot is a handtool aficionado, specifically old handtools (antique tools). This is contrasted with users of any hand tools who are called neanderthals in a number of internet woodworking communities. For many, the two terms are interchangeable. In this context, a galoot or neanderthal is one who hunts used hand tools and/or insists on using hand tools in preference to power tools, especially hand planes. Galoots may also champion tools that others would consider a lost cause, lovingly restoring a rusted or damaged tool by sanding, scraping, lapping, or using electrolysis to remove rust and repairing or replacing parts required to restore the tool to a usable state.

The galoot community includes, but is not restricted to, collectors of old tools. The only qualification for being a galoot is a love of hand tools (especially older hand tools) and a willingness to admit that this love may seem odd or unexplainable to others. By extension, galoots are often interested in old methods of achieving wood or metal work. For example, it is not uncommon for a galoot to create a replacement tool handle with a spokeshave, to resaw a plank with a frame saw, or even to forge and temper his or her own chisels.

(This definition was mostly taken from Wikipedia)

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This weeks word means:

To remove erroneous, vulgar, obscene, or otherwise objectionable material from (a book, for example) before publication.

Another interestingly obscure related word is bowdlerize. This word has the same meaning as expurgate, and was created after Thomas Bowdler (1754 - 1825) published an expurgated edition of Shakespeare in 1818.

In the spirit of the 'Word of the Week' click on the links below for some interesting tit-bits about censorship:

Censorship At The Movies

In the early 1920's it was decided that Hollywood (by this point dubbed 'Sin City' by the US media) needed to be 'cleaned up'. This opinion was largely due to three major scandals had rocked Hollywood: the manslaughter trials of comedy star Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle who was charged with being responsible for the death of actress Virginia Rappe at a wild party in San Francisco during Labor Day weekend of 1921; the murder of director William Desmond Taylor in February 1922 and the revelations regarding his bisexual lifestyle; and the drug-related death of popular actor Wallace Reid in January 1923. Later drug-related deaths of stars Olive Thomas, Barbara La Marr, Jeanne Eagels, and Alma Rubens resulted in persistent calls for censorship. The Production Code (also called the Hays code) after Will H. Hays (who had previously been United States Postmaster General and the 1920 campaign manager for President Warren G. Harding). However, it wasn't until the 1930's when every film was required to obtain a certificate of approval before release, that the code was enforced in any meaningful way. This led to the expurgation of material considered morally wrong or objectionable before the film could be released.

The first major instance of censorship under the Production Code involved the 1934 film "Tarzan and His Mate", in which brief nude scenes involving a body double for actress Maureen O'Sullivan were edited out of the master negative of the film. Another famous case of enforcement involved the 1943 western "The Outlaw", produced by Howard Hughes. "The Outlaw" was denied a certificate of approval and kept out of theaters for years because the film's advertising focused particular attention on Jane Russell's breasts.

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Comics and Censorship

superman hopes his wardrobe malfunction doesn't get him censored... - courtesy of stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/)The comic books and graphic novels of today are a far cry from those published back in the 50's when characters like Superman were the popular heroes of the day. At that time there was a great deal of censorship involved in comic production and publishers applied for a seal of approval by the Comics Code Authority (CCA) in order to be sold through proper channels (reputable shops etc). The CCA was created in 1954 in response to public concern about what was deemed inappropriate material in many comic books. This included graphic depictions of violence or gore in crime and horror comics, as well as the sexual innuendo. Under this strict censorship no comic was allowed to use the word 'horror' or 'terror' in its title, all "lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations" were eliminated and it was ruled that "In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds". No mention of drug use was allowed, and vampires, cannibals, zombies and werewolves were also all strictly forbidden.

It wasn't until 1971 that the code was updated to permit the depiction of "narcotics or drug addiction" if presented "as a vicious habit". Also newly allowed were vampires, ghouls and werewolves, when handled in the classic tradition of Frankenstein, Dracula and other high caliber literary works by [respected authors like] Edgar Allan Poe, Saki, Conan Doyle...whose works are read in schools around the world." Zombies, lacking the requisite "literary" background, remained taboo. However, Marvel skirted the zombie restriction in the mid-1970s by calling the apparently deceased, mind-controlled followers of various Haitian super-villains "zuvembies". A new generation of comic book publishers emerged in the 1980's and 1990's which didn't seek CAA approval and were distributed to specialist shops. Today DC Comics and Archie Comics are the only major publishers still submitting their books for CCA approval, and in the case of DC, only books from their Johnny DC and DC Universe superhero lines are submitted.

As an example of today's adult comic book genre "The Sandman" was one of the most widely respected American comic book series of its time, finding recognition not only within the comic book industry but also in the general literary world.

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A gambading horse  - courtesy of stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/)

This week's word of the week comes from the Old French and means a spring or leap by a horse. One source I looked at said it was a playful leap in which all 4 of the horses feet leave the ground. It is thought that this word originated from the Italian Gambader meaning to scamper. The word 'gambado' is a pseudo-Spanish alteration of gambade which can also be used to describe a caper or antic. Gambadoes are a type of gaiters attached to the saddle of a horse, they are essentially leather cases on the side of the saddle that admit the leg, shoe and all (definition of gambadoes from The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, originally by Francis Grose).

Quote of the week:

"His thin legs tenanted a pair of gambadoes fastened at the side with rusty clasps"
  --Sir W.Scott.

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Of, relating to, or marked by extraordinarily detailed and vivid recall of visual images and in the spirit of the weekly word, here is some information about Eidetic memory (or photographic memory as it's more commonly known).

[Taken from Wikipedia:]

Eidetic Memory

Photographic memory, eidetic memory, or total recall, is the ability to recall images, sounds, or objects in memory with great accuracy and in seemingly unlimited volume. It is said that many famous artists and composers, like Claude Monet and Mozart, possibly had eidetic memory.

Controversy - Eidetic Memory, Fact or Fiction?...

Dr. Marvin Minsky, in his book The Society of Mind, was unable to verify claims of eidetic memory and considered reports of eidetic memory to be an "unfounded myth".

Support for the belief that eidetic memory could be a myth was supplied by the psychologist Adriaan de Groot, who conducted an experiment into the ability of chess Grandmasters to memorise complex positions of chess pieces on a chess board. Initially it was found that these experts could recall surprising amounts of information, far more than non-experts, suggesting eidetic skills. However, when the experts were presented with arrangements of chess pieces that could never occur in an actual game, their recall was no better than the non-experts, implying that they had developed an ability to organise certain types of information, rather than possessing innate eidetic ability.

Some people attribute exceptional powers of memory to enhanced memory techniques as opposed to any kind of innate difference in the brain. However, support for the belief that eidetic memory is a real phenomenon has been supplied by several studies. Charles Stromeyer studied a woman named Elizabeth who could recall poetry written in a foreign language that she didn't know years after she had first seen the poem. A.R. Luria wrote a famous account Mind of a Mnemonist of a subject with a remarkable memory, S.V. Shereshevskii; among various extraordinary feats, he could memorize innumerable lists of random words and recall them perfectly decades later. Luria believed the man had effectively unlimited recall. See his article for further information about his methods.

The Guinness Book of Records lists people with extraordinary memories. For example, on July 2 2005, Akira Haraguchi managed to recite pi's first 83,431 decimal places from memory, and on November 3, 1994, Tom Groves memorized the order of cards in a randomly shuffled 52-card deck in 42.01 seconds. The authors of the Guinness Book of Records, Norris and Ross McWhirter, themselves had extraordinary memory, in that they could recall any entry in the book on demand, and indeed did so weekly in response to audience questions on the long-running television show Record Breakers.

Mathematician John von Neumann is said to have had total recall. Neumann was a Hungarian mathematician and polymath who made contributions to quantum physics, functional analysis, set theory, economics, computer science, numerical analysis, hydrodynamics (of explosions), statistics and many other mathematical fields. Most notably, von Neumann was a pioneer of the modern digital computer and the application of operator theory to quantum mechanics (von Neumann algebra), a member of the Manhattan Project, and creator of game theory and the concept of cellular automata. Along with Edward Teller and Stanislaw Ulam, von Neumann worked out key steps in the nuclear physics involved in thermonuclear reactions and the hydrogen bomb.

The late Stu Ungar, one of the world's most successful poker and gin rummy players, had a similar (and profitable) gift, as does the chess genius Bobby Fischer.

There have been some cases where young children have demonstrated the ability to focus on a picture and then recall it with perfect clarity minutes later. However, these skills are usually lost as they grow older.

Some autistics display extraordinary memory, as well as those with similar conditions like Asperger's syndrome. Autistic savants are a rarity but they, in particular, show signs of spectacular memory; one notable example is Kim Peek (the man who was the inspiration behind the character Raymond Babbit, played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie Rain Man), who can recall about 9600 books from memory.

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Ichthyology is the branch of zoology devoted to the study of fish. There are as many species of fish as all other vertebrates put together, and they have been evolving for a very long time. Worldwide, there are over 22,000 species of fish, comprising more than 50% of all vertebrate species. The origin of fishes dates back to over 480 million years.

There are so many types of fish that there is a bewildering amount of variety in colour, shape and size. Fish all fall into one of three categories: bony fish (Osteichthyes), cartilaginous fish (Chondrichthyes) such as sharks and rays, and jawless fish (Agnatha). Fish range in size from the .31-in. (7.9-mm) Paedocypris that lives in tropical swamps in Sumatra to the 45-ft (14-m) whale shark.

There is far more water on the earth than there is dry land and there are fish which can live in all the different types of water that can be found. They are found in all marine, fresh, and brackish waters throughout the world and at all depths. Members of different species of fish tolerate water temperatures ranging from freezing to over 100°F (38°C). Most are confined either to saltwater or to freshwater, but some are physiologically adapted to moving from one to the other. This adaptability, and the size of their environment, is one of the reasons that there are so many fish of so many different types.

Amazing Ichthyology Facts

Shark Attack

While swimming, the chance of drowning is more than 1,000 times greater than that of dying from a shark attack.

In a study of shark attacks on humans it was found that close passes were seldom made before the attack, and in the majority of the cases there was only one strike. Few attacks involved more than one bite. This indicates that in many cases the attacking shark mistook the victim for a more usual kind of food and did not attack any further when the error was discovered. It is fortunate that sharks, in most cases, do not consider humans to be suitable food. This information also refutes the long-standing notion that fresh human blood is a powerful attractant that excites sharks into a feeding frenzy. If this were so, the presence of blood would certainly have induced that attacking shark to strike the victim repeatedly.

So it would seem that sharks are not really that dangerous. Except for the ones with lasers on their heads......

A shark dreams of owning its very own fricking laser...- courtesy of stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/)

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Ladyboys of the Sea

About 21 families of fish are hermaphrodites. In the deep sea, the low light levels and limited food supply make for a very low population density; meaning that potential mates are few and far between. Members of the fish family Salmoniformes (eg salmon) and Serranidae (hamlets) are simultaneous hermaphrodites; they can spawn with any individual encountered.

Sequential hermaphrodites:

Very strange life histories develop in species whose individuals may change sex at some time in their life. They may change from being males to females (protandry) or females to males (protogyny).

An example of protandry is found in the anemonefishes. The fishes live with anemones in a symbiotic relationship; the anemone provide the fish with shelter and protection from predation, and the fish supply the anemone with food. Groups of fishes will live with one anemone, and will not switch anemones. Only the two largest will mate; the largest female and the second largest, the male. With the female being the largest, she can produce the most eggs. When the female dies, the largest male will change sexes and become the female. The rest of the fish are immature males.

A classic example of protogyny is found in the wrasses and parrotfishes. The males in these species form harems, with one large male sequestering and defending a group of smaller females. The male enjoys spectacular reproductive success, as it has many females to mate with. The females also enjoy a limited reproductive success, producing as many eggs as they can, all fertilized by the one male.

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Goldfish Memory

Goldfish - courtesy of stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/)

Rumors that goldfish only have a three second memory are completely false. Scientific studies have shown that goldfish have strong associative learning abilities, as well as social learning skills. In addition, their strong visual acuity allows them to distinguish between different humans. It is quite possible that owners will notice the fish react favorably to them (swimming to the front of the glass, swimming rapidly around the tank, and going to the surface mouthing for food) while hiding when other people approach the tank. Over time, goldfish should learn to associate their owners and other humans with food, often "begging" for food whenever their owners approach.

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Just for fun

A little peek into the lighter side of life within the Heriot-Watt Waves & Fields group.

Word of the Week: