Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Fun word, thenar. Is it "the fleshy area of the palm at the base of the thumb"?

Or is it from speculative fiction: In the science fiction trilogy Starlight, Starbright by Alex Stallings, the Thenar are a species of beings with highly advanced directional skills, so much so that they often serve interstellar ships as the biological component of the integrated bio-mech navigational system, requiring them to spend long periods in isolation. Many of them are eventually driven mad by the job, but their navigational prowess is one of the few skills their otherwise impoverished species has to offer (theirs is a poor planet), so they continue. The madness of the Thenar is also an important plot point in Stalling's short story, "The Title Search of Albederon IV."

If I make that into a Wiki entry, how long it would last? I won't bother with it. But thenar, which actually has a couple of other palm-related definitions, is indeed that part of the palm under the thumb. It's a word I picked up years ago from The Book of Lists. The list in question was something like "names for things you didn't know had names." I think that was also where I learned "aglet" and "dross" and probably some others.

Why does this come up today? I was chipping ice off the driveway the other day with my shovel. Pounding the shovel into the ice -- the only way to deal with it right now. Since then, my right thenar has been mildly sore. I probably shouldn't be writing at all, to give it a rest, but it's going to take more than that to stop me.


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