12 January, 2006


In an earlier post I lamented the slowed invention afflicting the English language of late, and the transformation of its finer sesquipedalia into museum-pieces. Well, here is the ultimate museum-piece: 'zenzizenzizenzic', which means 'a number raised to the eighth power'. As some of my faster readers might wonder, 'zenzic' indeed means a square number, and 'zenzizenzic' a squared square. Thus, 9 is a zenzic number, 81 zenzizenzic, and 6561 zenzizenzizenzic. Also, as 27 is a cubic, we can say that 729 is a zenzicubic, 531441 is a zenzizenzicubic, 387420489 is a zenzicubicubic, etc. A simple googlement will demonstrate the common fetishization of this word, and words like it: it has become stuffed or ossified, removed from the language. In this case, however, I suspect the word always had this status. From the beginning the term must have had a ring of alterity, with its occult, incantatory spoken music, and its bastard Arabic-Latin-German-Latin-Italian etymology.

Nonetheless, I recommend fighting its incarceration behind glass screens: let's give it currency! While we may not often speak of large numbers, we often speak of great degrees. A plea, then: why not check and replace your next 'big' with a 'zenzic'? Your next 'fantastic' with a 'zenzizenzic'? Your next 'humungous' or 'gargantuan' with a 'zenzizenzizenzic'? Some examples:

A: "My, that lady's breasts are perfectly zenzic."
B: "Dear me yes! In fact they're zenzi-zenzic!"


A: "Oh James, I love you excessively...!"
B: "And I also, Lily, I love you zenzizenzizenzically!"

Think on 't.

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