Word of the Day : January 16, 2011

ossify

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verb AH-suh-fye

Definition

1 : to become or change into bone or bony tissue

2 : to become or make hardened or set in one's ways

Did You Know?

The skeletons of mammals originate as soft cartilage that gradually transforms into hard bone (in humans, the process begins in the womb and continues until late adolescence). English speakers have referred to this bone-building process as "ossification" since the late 17th century, and the verb "ossify" arrived soon after the noun. English speakers began to use "ossification" and "ossify" for more figurative types of hardening (such as that of the heart, mind, or soul) in the 19th century. Both words descend from the Latin root "os," meaning "bone." "Os" is also an English word that appears in scientific contexts as a synonym of "bone," and the Latin term is an ancestor of the word "osseous," which means "consisting of or resembling bone."


Examples

When a baby is born, many of the bones in its body have yet to ossify.

"But too many businesses are surviving because credit costs nothing, and bankers care little whether their borrowers are profitable or not. That has two damaging consequences: it ossifies corporate culture, and it drags down productivity." -- From an article in The Economist, November 18, 2010



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