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Pronunciation: krip-tid Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A reported but unsubstantiated plant or animal, like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster.

Notes: This recent (1983) word is spreading from animals to plants because of its suffix, -id, used to name botanical and zoological families, such as annelid, a family of worms, and orchid, a family of flowering plants. The study of cryptids is known as cryptozoology, but someone has already proposed criptobotany, so, is cryptobiology far behind?

In Play: While cryptozoology is a pseudoscience, cryptozoologists had an organization, the International Society of Cryptozoology (ISC) from 1982 to 1998, which held annual meetings, maintained a museum, and published a journal and a newsletter: "Lucinda Head gave a lecture entitled "Cryptids I have Encountered" at a ISC meeting in Portland, Maine." Unicorns, mermaids, dragons, jackalopes, and werewolves are all cryptids.

Word History: We have an exact entry date for today's Good word. In 1983 J. E. Wall introduced the word in the ISC newsletter (summer 10/3). Wall created his word from Greek kryptos "secret, hidden" + -id, a suffix marking biological families. -Id is a reduction of -oid and is found in Latin as -ides and Greek as -idos, so the reduction must have taken place in late PIE. The origin of kryptos seems to be PIE k'el-/k'ol- "to cover, hide, protect" with a mysterious shift of the liquid consonants from [l] to [r]. It isn't surprising in Sanskrit, where all Ls became Rs, sarman "umbrella, cover". We find the PIE word underlying Latin celere "to hide", Russian kul' "sack", Irish ceil "to hide, withhold", Welsh celu "to hide", German Hülle "shell, covering", and English hull. (Now a good word for GW editor Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira for finding today's brand new Good Word and bringing it to our attention.)

Dr. Goodword,

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