from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The CGS unit of acceleration, equal to 1 centimetre per second per second. Symbol: Gal


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Named in honour of Galileo Galilei



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  • "Why do we call Galileo Galilei by his first name?" A particularly interesting article on if you're into Italian surname history (which I am).

    I'm such a geek.

    August 20, 2009

  • Thanks, chained--great article.

    August 20, 2009

  • Interesting - but I still don't understand why we call(ed) Saddam Hussein by his first name.

    August 20, 2009

  • ... out of sheer disrespect? I don't know either, actually.

    August 21, 2009

  • I wondered that too.

    August 21, 2009

  • Hussein is a very common name in the Middle East, the King of Jordan, for example. Maybe that has something to do with it.

    August 21, 2009

  • Spanish and Italian are often quite close witness (with slight deviations that form the arms of a galaxy ???): Galisteo

    Is the Italian boot trying to clarify the milky way? Is it what rubs off? (or what sticks?)meig- It would be cream skimming, if it were true! Lettuce decide! What releaf! What gaul!!! Galicia "true salt of the earth" as Pasternak subscribes. salt (hal-) How ruthian with care!

    August 21, 2009

  • Saddam's full name is, according to Wikipedia (a source I distrust, but this information seems correct), Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti. The "Hussein" is actually a patronymic (his father's name) which is being used, for the convenience of the media, as a "last name". "Al-Tikriti" indicates where the family originates (the town of Tikrit). I am not sure about the "Abd al-Majid" part. I used to have an Armenian friend from Baghdad, who told me that his official Iraqi name consisted of his first name + his father's first name + his grandfather's first name. The Armenian family name never came into the picture. So it is a mistake to think of "Hussein" as Saddam's "surname" the way European last names are surnames.

    August 21, 2009

  • I like the comment at the bottom of the article about the United States of Vespuccia.

    August 21, 2009

  • Right, rolig. 'Hussein' is simply a 'surname' of convenience for Westerners, but it's strange that having this convention, anglophone politicians and media alike should then discard it in the case of the late tyrant.

    And I wonder how the convention arose in this case. Why not "Saddam Tikriti" ("Tikriti" in short-form), along the lines of the Libyan leader Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi? Was it something instigated by SH himself? I wonder how he referred to himself in the media.

    It's difficult because he was a figure of opprobrium for so long. As cb mentions earlier, calling him simply "Saddam" does imply disrespect. Can anyone remember what we called him when he was our friend?

    August 22, 2009