There’s a Word for That: Whelve

atkins-bookshelf-wordsAs the spider scuttles across the kitchen floor, you do what everybody does — you scream and instantly grab the nearest bowl or cup and swoop down on the unsuspecting critter to trap it. That almost instinctive act, covering something with an overturned vessel (like a bowl or cup), has a name: whelving, to whelve. The origin of the word is from the Middle English word, whelven, from the Old English word, gehwielfan, meaning to bend over or to arch.

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There’s a Word for That: Pareidolia

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There’s a Word for That: Pareidolia

atkins-bookshelf-wordsEver look up at the sky and see animals or faces in the clouds? Or take a piece of toast out of the toaster and see an image of the Virgin Mary? No you are not having a religious epiphany. You are experiencing the very normal psychological phenomenon called pareidolia — the perception of familiar shapes from random stimuli or information. Given random patterns, the brain tries to make sense of it, imposing familiar shapes out of a vast database of stored images. The word is derived from the Greek words para (meaning “amiss”) and eidolia (meaning “image”). One of the most well-know examples of pareidolia is the Face on Mars, created by the pattern of shadows and light on a mountain in the mesa of Cydonia on the surface of Mars. Pareidolia is also at the heart of the Rorschach test that asks subjects to make sense of random inkblot images in order to assess a person’s mental state.

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