Printable Version
Pronunciation: æn-ê-mor-fik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Visually distorted, twisted or squeezed, as 'an anamorphic lens' used in making cinemascope pictures. 2. The gradual phyllogenous development of a species from a lower to a higher stage.

Notes: The noun usually associated with anamorphic is anamorphism, but this word has a near synonym, anamorphous, with its noun anamorphosis. An anamorphoscope is a device for restoring an anamorphic image to a properly proportioned one.

In Play: The first sense of today's Good Word is the most commonly encountered: "Hans Holbein's portrait 'The Ambassadors' contains an anamorphic representation of a skull." The second meaning is used mostly by scientists: "Alligators belong to a species reflecting little anamorphic change over the 37 million years of its existence." An anamorphic sidewalk scene by Manfred Stader.

Word History: Anamorphosis, which underlies today's word, was taken directly from ancient Greek, where it meant "forming anew". This word was based on the verb anamorphoun "to form anew, to transform". Anamorphoun is made up of ana "up, on, again" + morphoun "to form, shape" from morphe "form, shape". No one seems to know where morphe comes from, but we do know something about Greek ana. It comes from a Proto-Indo-European word, ana "on, aloft, over", which also went into the making of English on and the German prefix an- as in Anlage "request". In Slavic this word underwent metathesis and came out as na "on" in Russian and most Slavic languages. (We would like to extend to Tony Bowden of London an unanomorphic 'thank you' for recommending today's exceptional Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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