The word lunicidio/lunicide means ‘a killing of the moon’—or at least that’s what it would mean if it existed. Spanish speakers recognize that luna is ‘the moon,’ just as it had been in Latin, and even English speakers are familiar with luna from astronomy and from the adjective lunar, which Spanish shares. Several posts here in the first year of this blog dealt with luna.

The suffix -cidio/-cide—familiar from compounds like suicidio/suicide, fratricidio/fratricide, and homicidio/homicide—derives from the Latin verb caedere that meant ‘to strike, cut, cut down down,’ and often ‘to kill.’ The ‘strike’ sense led, starting with the Latin past participle caesus, adding a suffix, and evolving through Old French, to English chisel. From the past participle of a Latin compound we have the kind of tooth called an incisivo/incisor; a surgical cut is an incisión/incision. The Latin compound praecīdere ‘to shorten’ has given us preciso/precise.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jim R
    Sep 10, 2018 @ 11:35:02

    I was up at 5am to look for a comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. I found it and other neat things with my 15x binocs on a tripod. There was no Moon visible as it was too new.


  2. shoreacres
    Sep 12, 2018 @ 22:51:48

    I suspect most people could come up with a derivative of luna. Lunatic comes to mind, or lunacy, or even the luna moth. But the suffix you’ve added is interesting. Perhaps, in an earlier time, an eclipse might have been considered lunicide.

    One that could be added to your suffix list is ‘incisive,’ as in an incisive argument.

    Another species in the genus of the cutleaf grape fern I found in Arkansas is Botrychium lunaria, or moonwort. The name is a reference to the pinnae of the sterile blade, which are shaped like a crescent moon.

    I was surprised to find it’s a New Zealand species. I had hypothesized to Maria that the presence of the genus in the US and in NZ suggested that they might go back to the time when the continents were joined. Reading about another related species, the rattlesnake fern, I found this: “The rattlesnake fern is a ubiquitous species found throughout the northern hemisphere. It is believed to have evolved in Asia and then radiated outward using ancient land bridges that once connected the continents.”


    • Steve Schwartzman
      Sep 13, 2018 @ 08:58:59

      Lunicide as ‘eclipse’ is an excellent suggestion. Before the next total lunar eclipse you can describe the coming even that way and see if anyone picks up the word and spreads it. Of course the resurrection of the moon soon after might lead some to doubt it had really been killed off.

      Speaking of incisive, I didn’t know till I prepared this post that incisivo is the Spanish word for ‘incisor.’

      When I was a teenager, the father of a good friend pointed out the way northeastern South America seemed to fit right into the west coast of Africa. Back then the theory of plate tectonics wasn’t yet established. I’m sometimes amazed how much has changed just in our lifetime.


      • shoreacres
        Sep 13, 2018 @ 19:34:27

        Geologic changes are one thing, but think about all the geopolitical changes. I found a woman leaving a nice world globe on a stand in our trash area a few years ago. When I asked why, she said, “Too many of the countries have changed names or boundaries. The kids can’t use it for school any more.”


        • Steve Schwartzman
          Sep 13, 2018 @ 21:00:37

          Yes, I’ve also thought about those geopolitical changes. I can’t help wondering about a century or two from now: what names and boundaries will appear where the United States once was?


    • Maria
      Sep 14, 2018 @ 08:24:28

      Well, I always think in biological terms. If life began from seed, it had to begin from one source, even if other events were simultaneously doing the same thing, they developed in response to demands from the environment. However, there is the ‘common’ origin.


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©2011–2018 Steven Schwartzman

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