May 26th, 2010

puffin WotD: Ellipsis

Someone once asked why I use the ellipsis ("…") so often on Twitter and LJ. I hope that this excerpt from today's Word of the Day email (linked at the end) helps explain!

ellipsis [i-LIP-sis]
Omission; a figure of syntax, three dots, by which one or more words, which are obviously understood, are omitted.

'If I read one more review that says it's exhaustive ..." Nicole LaPorte started to say, trailing off with a whachagonnado? ellipsis. "I hope they don't mean 'exhausting!' " No, no, I smiled, giving solace to the author during a midday meet here at Senses in the Soho Met. The woman behind a new secrets-and-lies scorcher entitled The Men Who Would be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies and a Company Called Dreamworks, she's woven together a story that is thorough, sweeping, extensive, definitive, full-scale. But not exhaustive, got it?

Shinan Govani, "Power players; Writer Nicole LaPorte dishes on a trio of Hollywood dream-makers", National Post, May 22, 2010

Ellipsis, approximately 1570, derives from Latin ellipsis, from Greek elleipsis "a falling short, defect, ellipse," from elleipein "to fall short, leave out," from en- "in" + leipein "to leave." Word of the Day: Ellipsis
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This is another sad day

I remember reading one of his books at junior school (I was probably eight or nine) and from thereafter being addicted to maths puzzles. Another amazing person is lost to us.

Interestingly though, Gardner was not a mathematician himself. When he started working for Scientific American in 1956 he hadn't done any maths beyond the normal high school classes. He was purely a populariser of what became known as Recreational Mathematics.

Times Online - Eureka Zone - WBLG: A tribute to Martin Gardner