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sinus Latin= a curve, anything hollowed out, the fold of a garment, a bay or gulf of water
1. In anatomy, the paranasal sinuses are cavities inside the bones near the nose (para Greek preposition ‘beside, near’). Also called the accessory nasal sinuses, they are lined with epithelial mucosa and act to moisten, warm, and filter air and perhaps they act as resonators for the human voice. Compare music critics who rave about a singer’s “head tones.” Some head tones depend on exquisitely placed and bounteously spaced sinuses.
2. A sinus is also a channel for venous blood, for example, the aortic sinus is a widened part of the aorta or pulmonary artery opposite a semilunar valve.
3. A draining sinus is a pathological passageway formed to permit the escape of pus from an abscess.
sinus +-itis a common suffix of disease names from Greek now signifying “inflammation of [the organ named in the front of the word].” Compare appendicitis, neuritis and otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear from medius Latin ‘middle, inner, inside’).
Without proper drainage, a paranasal sinus may become blocked, due to viral or bacterial infection or allergies. In acute suppurative sinusitis (sub>sup Latin ‘under’ + pus, puris Latin ‘pus’), pus, pain, fever, chills, and headache must be relieved by bed rest, possible antibiotics, extra fluid intake, and hot packs. In chronic hyperplastic sinusitis, polyps crowd the lumen of a sinus and surgical remedy may be necessary.
Lumen is a medical word from Latin denoting the hollow portion of any tubular structure, e.g. the lumen of a vein, the lumen of the intestine, the bore of a hollow needle, the lumen of a catheter. Illustrated below is the lumen of an artery.
Sinus Node or Sinoatrial Node
This small mass of nerve fibers and cells is the natural pacemaker of the human heart. Lodged in the muscles of the heart’s right auricle it transmits ‘contraction commands’ through a remarkable network of Purkinje’s fibers. It was named by early anatomists who did not fully understand the structure of the mammalian heart, and thought it was like the sinus venosus of lower animals, like the first chamber in the heart of fish and reptiles, a chamber which receives blood from the veins and contracts to pump the blood into a second atrial chamber.
Sinus Rhythm in the Heart
Sinus rhythm describes the normal beating of the heart impelled by electric impulses of the sinus node, detected by ECG or electrocardiogram.
Sinus in Latin
A toga fashion parade from the Roman forum
Perhaps the commonest use of the noun sinus in Latin referred to the loose hanging fold in the front part of that formal Roman attire called the toga. A small purse was sometimes carried in the fold of the toga and loose coins were kept within the sinus also. Columella, a Roman writer on animal husbandry, wrote aere sinus plenos urbe reportare ‘to carry back to the city toga-folds filled with coins,’ that is, to return home very rich.
Other Related English Words
In Latin sinus frequently meant ‘the bosom’ or the innermost part of a thing, the part folded in. The Latin verb sinuare ‘to wind, to bend, to curve’ has a compound form that gives our English verb to insinuate. I may insinuate in a sly, underhanded way the idea that our teacher is stupid so that I am not punished. Were I some government hack, I might also insinuate myself into the good graces of an Ottawa nuclear-power lobbyist, for I too would appreciate a bribery-financed summer place in the Gatineau Hills where I could overlook scenic hills and nuclear safety failures. Just making up an exemplary sentence, folks.
A related adjective is sinuosus ‘full of curves’ from which descends our modern English sinuous. A sinuous rill is a little stream with bends and curves. A sinuous nymph may dance around you in a foreign café displaying her bodily curves and bends.
Derivatives in other languages
Most of the western languages use the Latin term as well: Spanish: seno, Turkish sinüs, Italian seno, French and German sinus.
Russian medical vocabulary uses the Latin word merely transliterated as синус.
Sine as a Term in Trigonometry
A sine is a function in trigonometry whose precise definition I shall not attempt. Look it up in an online mathematical dictionary, if you care. Here I’m interested to point out that Latin sinus which became English sine was used as a translation of a similar metaphor in the Arabic original where the trigonometric function was compared using the Arabic noun jaib ‘inner fold of a garment,’ (Arabic jaib equalling Latin sinus in meaning) all this when some of the original tenets of trigonometry were being introduced to European mathematics from original trig treatises in Arabic. I do recall from my high-school trig class that ‘the sine of an obtuse angle is numerically equal to that of its supplement.’
In a sine wave or sinusoid, a signal rises and falls in a repeating pattern, which is wave-like. It's a sine from Latin sinus because the waves bend and fold rhythmically.
The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that a sine wave is “a periodic oscillation of pure and simple form in which the displacement at any point is proportional to the sine of the phase angle at that point.” A sine wave is a wave or curve resembling a segment of this in form.
That's it, folks. Sine-ing off for now. I think a wave is appropriate.
© 2012 William Gordon Casselman
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Reviews of my Book
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A Great New Review of My Latest Book!
October 26, 2011
Welcome to the Enchanted Forest
By WB Johnston
This review is about Bill Casselman’s latest e-book about words: Where a Dobdob Meets a Dikdik: A Word Lover’s Guide to the Weirdest, Wackiest, and Wonkiest Lexical Gems (Kindle Edition)
“Wade Davis, lately of National Geographic, once described each living language as “an old-growth forest of the human spirit.” Once you decide to enter the kleptomaniacal woods of our mother tongue, what you need is more than a tour guide. This is no Disney-fied ‘keep-your-hands-inside-the-car-at all-times’, point A to point B, clear-cutting mining of language. You, here, are in the hands of Sir William of Cassel, a genuine shaman modestly posing as a simple lover of words.
Leave it on your desk at work and trust that someone will riffle through it when you are out at lunch. Shamans are magicians of the highest order. The work of their hands and hearts is game-changing. Or, hey, put it on your Kindle and just feel comforted that you can wander back out into the forest with Bill even in the middle of a boring lecture.
(Casselman replies: Thank you so much, Dr. J., for the kudos.)
Jenni French of San Fancisco, California writes on her blog “My Corner of the Universe” for March 19, 2011:
Casselman, Bill. Where a Dobdob Meets a Dikdik: A World Lover’s Guide to the Weirdest, Wackiest, and Wonkiest Lexical Gems. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2010.
And the author has quite a way with words, so I have found myself rereading many sentences in this book and slowing my progress through it.
My current favorite sentence is found in a discussion of dog hybrid breed names: “What a revolting concatenation of cutesiness and smarmy nomenclatorial treacle parading under the name of canine hybrid breed names” (19).
I’m sure I’ll have another favorite sentence in a day or two.
This book is just that good and just that entertaining.”
(Author Bill Casselman replies: “Thanks, Jenni!” )
Just a reminder that this book contains my ALL-NEW word esssays, none of which are available anywhere else in print or online.
Cindy Lapeña on her blog “Creativity Unlimited” of July 19 ,2011, writes:
Posted by mimrlith in 365 Things to Look Forward to.
19. Starting a book
To a certified bibliophile like me, a.k.a. bookworm, one of the most exciting things to look forward to is to start reading a new book. In fact, sometimes the prospect of starting to read a new book is so exciting that I have to hurry to finish the book I am currently reading, just so I can start a new one.
If there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s a book, especially if it promises to be a good one. Of course there are certain books I just won’t touch or be seen with, but at the risk of being hung by my thumbs by fans of such literature, I will not mention any genres in particular. . .
Seeing a book with a title that totally captivates me, like Where a Dobdob meets a Dikdik (yes, that is a book title!) has me so worked up, I just can’t wait to dive in. I imagine all sorts of deliciously fancifully outrageous words with a title like that. Is it obvious? I just love books on words. You won’t believe how many dictionaries I own. Or books on lexical oddities and other lexical explorations. Yes, I am a logophile of sorts. I love the new words I pick up from new books. I relish finding out the meanings of all manner of words and phrases and expressions. What could be more fun?”
(Replies author Bill Casselman: Please scroll to bottom of page or click here to link to a free seven-page preview of my new book, Where a Dobdob Meets a Dikdik.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Dear Mr. Casselman,
. . . I revisited the paraprosdokian page, and have finally quit laughing again at “Casselman’s Conclusion.” You were not unkind to the “profligate prof-lets.” During my years as an acquisitions editor, in rejection letters I often quoted Prof. Moses Hadas, classicist at Columbia University, who wrote a young scholar in response to having been sent the prof-let’s first book, “Thank you for sending me your book. I will waste no time reading it.”
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