• syzygy •
si-zê-jee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. The alignment of the centers of two (or more) celestial bodies along a straight line, as the moon and sun are in alignment vis-à-vis the earth during an eclipse. 2. The alignment of any two or more distinct objects, ideas, or events that are either similar or opposite.
Notes: As the moon and the Earth circle around their respective axes, they often fall in syzygy. When the Sun and Moon are aligned on the same side of the Earth, we have a new moon syzygy. When the Sun and Moon are on opposite sides of the Earth, they are in full moon syzygy. The plural of this interesting word is syzygies and the adjective is syzygetic. Is this a word without vowels? No, but it is the only word with three vocalic Ys, beating zyzzyva by one.
In Play: Let's bring this word down to earth where things often fall into alignment for better or worse: "I was delayed by an unexpected syzygy of events: I bent over to tie my shoe just as, behind me, Beryl drew the mop handle back to finish cleaning the floor." Syzygy was very popular in the 80s and 90s in reference to the alignment of ideas: "Although we disagree on many things, Greta and I are in syzygy on the need for counseling."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Greek syzygia "union," derived from syzygos "paired", a combination of syn- "together, with" + zyge "pair". The PIE word yeug- "join, union", whence zyge was derived, is also the source of English yoke, not to mention Sanskrit yogah "union", which is used in English as yoga. Join, joint, and juncture all go back to the same PIE word. Russian igo "yoke", Danish åg "yoke", Swedish ok "yoke", German Joch "yoke", Welsh iau "yoke", Lithuanian jautis "bull", and ancient Greek zygon "yoke" all share the same origin. (We are grateful that Nancy Woods came into syzygy with our website long enough for her to recommend today's most unusual Good Word."
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