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It’s About Time This Word Appears

A word such as stadium is singular. In the purest sense, the plural would be stadia, but almost everybody uses stadiums as the plural (though I learned in writing this that stadium referred not only to the large arena in which the ancient Olympics were held in Greece, it also referred to the length of that edifice, about 200 meters).

I have accepted that stadiums is the plural we use, so imagine my surprise to read this week’s Time magazine and see the word gymnasia, plural for gymnasium.

Time’s cover story on Donald Trump mentions that “… after standing for two hours in single-digit temperatures, locals filled the equivalent of two high school gymnasia on the Vermont-New Hampshire border to catch Trump’s revival show.”

In ancient Greece, a gymnasium (a Latinization of the Greek word gymnasion meaning “gymnastic school,” which is derived from the Greek gymnos meaning  “naked;” ancient athletes competed sans clothing) was a training facility for public games. Its plural is gymnasia. These were typically large structures containing spaces for each type of exercise as well as a stadium, wrestling school, baths, outer porticos for practice in bad weather, and covered porticos where philosophers and others gave public lectures. All Athenian gymnasia were located outside the city walls due to the large amount of space required for construction.

I had mixed feelings on seeing gymnasia. I was thrilled because I didn’t think I ever would see the plural form of -ium words used correctly, but at the same time, I admit it stuck out and made me pause.

Until next time! Use the right words!

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January 12, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , ,

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