Friday, September 7, 2007

Gamut -- a word with its roots in do-re-mi


gamut (GAM-uht) noun
The complete range of something.
[From Medieval Latin, contraction of gamma ut, from gamma (third letter of the Greek alphabet), used to represent the lowest tone + ut, from the names of the notes ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si (ut and si later changed to do and ti). Gamma + ut contracted to gamut and the meaning expanded to denote all notes.]

The names ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si are derived from the initial syllables of a Latin hymn. Who knew?

"'Our biggest problem is basic infrastructure strain, and that covers the gamut -- electricity, water, telephone service -- you name it, we have continuous basic problems with all of them,' [Alain Tiphaine] said."
-- Luis Ramos; Caribbean Business; Puerto Rico Herald; July 8, 2004.

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