Monday, July 02, 2007

WORD A DAY

AMALGAMATE: 1: to unite in or as if in a mixture of elements 2: to merge into a single body

The noun "amalgam" came to us via Middle French from Medieval Latin amalgama. It was first used of a mercury alloy, but it eventually came to describe any mixture of elements. By the 18th century, it was also being applied figuratively, as in "an amalgam of citizens." The verb "amalgamate" was created from "amalgam" and has been in use since at least 1617. It too began life referring only to compounds of mercury, but it can now be used to denote the formation of any compound or combined entity. In particular, it often implies the forming of a close union without complete loss of individual identities, as in "refugees who were readily amalgamated into the community."

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