While putting together yesterday’s podcast on zoetrope I came across today’s word- heliotrope.
Heliotrope is a noun with several definitions. One is a purple or violet color. Another heliotrope is a surveying tool for civil engineers and map makers. It allows them to focus a beam of sunlight and signal a fellow surveyor up to twenty miles away. Using the heliotrope’s signaling the engineers can triangulate locations. These heliotropes are not used anymore. A heliotrope is any member of the Heliotropium genus or plants. Heliotrope can also be used to describe anything that turns toward the sun.
I don’t know if this happens to anyone else but I find as soon as I learn a new word I see and hear it in use much more frequently then I did before I took the time to learn the definition. After choosing heliotrope for today’s Today’s Podcast I noticed G.B Trudeau used heliotropic in Sunday’s Doonesbury comic to describe a Zonker’s sunbathing skills. I love when
Heliotrope like so many other words is derived from Greek. As we learned in an earlier podcast trope means turn. Combine that with helio meaning sun and you have something that turns towards the sun. Just like Zonker.