Daily Archives: January 6, 2009


If you ever see this word come up, it will surely seem to have surfaced from some unclear depths. Its very pronunciation is likely to be uncertain. Has it do with with Appalachian? Quite the opposite. With selah? Rather not: more likely seizure than caesura. With seals? Only as dinner. Is a chain involved? Expect ropes if anything, but only attached to macropiscatorial gear. With a lack? Depends on whose perspective. With an ache? A short sharp one perhaps. With a loch? Sooner a sea – a selachian is, in the broad sense, a thalassian. And the word does sound rather like “sea-lake-ian,” or perhaps like “seal achin’,” both of which are not altogether off-key (or off-quay). It slips in voicelessly with an s, jumps to a liquid l, then putes a bite in with a [k], releasing for the suffix. But I should not put too mordant a bent on this: although the genus Selachii (from Greek selachos, “shark”) includes sharks, it also includes skates and rays – or, as the OED puts it, “the sharks and their allies,” making one wonder whether its natural enemies are the jets. But that’s a story for the west side; this is one for the wet side – and a word probably best used at a distance.