Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Interesting words: Redux

Redux is an interesting word.  I read about it in The Word Detective.  It sounds like it means "reduced" or perhaps summarized or something like that.  But it doesn't. Redux means "brought back" or "revived".  According to Wikipedia, it is mostly used in literature, film and video game titles, and was made much more popular when John Updike published Rabbit Redux in 1970.  Google's ngram viewer shows that the use of redux has had a lot of peaks and valleys, peaking in 1806-1808, then again in 1904, then there was a long decline in use and, indeed, a resurgence after 1970 that, so far, shows no sign of slowing down. Indeed, one could say "redux redux". But it's never been really popular - the peaks are at about 0.0000045% of all words, or about 1 in every 22 million words.

One unusual thing about redux is that (unlike nearly all adjectives in English) it is used only after the noun it modifies. Another unusual thing is that it has no comparative or superlative form (the -er and -est of most adjectives). It comes from Latin reducere "to lead back or bring back" - the same root as reduce, which changed its meaning later on.

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