The word syzygy is not one known to many people, but it is definitely one of the coolest words in the dictionary. An almost impossible combination of all consonants, syzygy describes the astronomical phenomenon when three celestial bodies align or, in some circumstances, it can describe two alike things. Etymologically speaking, this came into English in the middle of the seventeenth century as "conjunction or opposition", from Latin syzygia, which came from its Greek cognate, but differed in definition; the Greek syzygia described a union of two animals, or the action of uniting two animals through means of yoking them. This, in turn, was a syzygy of the two words syn, meaning "together" (from Proto-Indo-European ksun, "with") and the Greek word zygon, meaning "yoke" (this came from PIE yeug,"to join", which is the father of today's words jugular, yoga, and zygote). The definition changed from "to yoke animals together" to "alignment of space-y stuff" because to yoke two animals is to join them, and the planets are likewise joined when the syzygy is formed. Etymology is awesome!
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd