Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekly Words No. 4


1: a puzzling or difficult problem

2: an essential point requiring resolution or resolving an outcome

3: a main or central feature (as of an argument)

EXAMPLES: The crux of the city's problem with traffic congestion is that many people find the trains to be unpredictable and don’t trust them to run on time.

"The crux of the problem is that as a person loses weight, especially in more aggressive dieting, the body changes the hormones it's producing, adjusting for the loss in fat reserves, and promoting a stronger urge to eat more and replace the reserves." -- From an article by Rupert Shepherd in Medical News Today, October 26, 2011

DID YOU KNOW? In Latin, "crux" referred literally to an instrument of torture, often a cross or stake, and figuratively to the torture and misery inflicted by means of such an instrument. "Crux" eventually developed the sense of "a puzzling or difficult problem"; that was the first meaning that was used when the word entered English in the early 18th century. Later, in the late 19th century, "crux" began to be used more specifically to refer to an essential point of a legal case that required resolution before the case as a whole could be resolved. Today, the verdict on "crux" is that it can be used to refer to any important part of a problem or argument, inside or outside of the courtroom.

Name That Synonym: What synonym of "crux" rhymes with "mist"? The answer is:

GIST noun \ˈjist'\

1: the ground of a legal action

2: the main point or part : essence

Examples of GIST

1. "Didn't catch every word between them, but heard enough to get the gist of the conversation."

2. … Einstein showed how time intervals depend on the motion of people and clocks doing the measuring. And that's the gist of relativity. —Alan Lightman, Science, January/February 1984

3. Thus, Poulterers' Case gave rise to a doctrine which survives to this day: the gist of conspiracy is the agreement, and so the agreement is punishable even if its purpose was not achieved. —Wayne R. LaFave & Austin W. Scott, Jr., Criminal Law, (1972) 1986

4. Dorothea told him that she had seen Lydgate, and recited the gist of her conversation with him about the Hospital. —George Eliot, Middlemarch,1872

Origin of GIST

Anglo-French, it lies, from gisir to lie, ultimately from Latin jacēre — more at adjacent

First Known Use: circa 1711

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