I was having a session with that noted word-tasting couple Edgar Frick and Marilyn Frack, well known for showing up at logogustations in matching black leather. We turned to the books and were served up diœcious.

“Die-o-ee-shus,” Marilyn said.

“No, dear, that’s a ligature. A digraph. Die-ee-shus,” Edgar replied, rolling the word around in his mouth, starting wide open and easing down into a closing pair of dewy voiceless fricatives.

“A ligature,” Marilyn said, glancing at her wrists. “Digamous? Mmm. Delicious.”

“One would think it might be spelled like diet with an i-o-u-s,” Edgar mused, omphaloskeptic (to the extent to which his omphalos was skeptible, his figure more global with each year).

“I think,” I pointed out with a glance at my etymological dictionary, “that digamous might be on the mark, given that it was first with the Greeks and then with the Romans.”

“And now we get to party with it,” Marilyn chirped, an had another sip of it: “Dioecious. How edacious.”

“Well, I rather think it is the spice of life,” Edgar said. “Vive la différance.”

“Oh, back off with the Derrida,” I said. “Well –” I turned to Marilyn – “this ten-dollar word really is a two-bit word: your bit and his bit.”

“Hmm. I’ll bite,” she replied. “It sounds sexy, yes?”

“Characterized by two sexes in separate individuals,” Edgar explained. “Like certain kinds of flowers. The ones that need bees.”

“Or birds.” Marilyn leaned forward, creaking her leather.

“Or people,” I said. “And, as I adumbrated, the Latin œc comes from the Greek oik as in oikos. The literal sense: having two houses. In this case, one for each sex.”

Marilyn was now on Edgar’s lap. “We have two houses,” she purred in his ear.

“Sex in one and sex in the other,” he half-snickered.

I nearly sprained my eyes rolling them. “A plague on both your houses,” I said, and headed back to the stacks.

5 responses to “dioecious

  1. A droll tale, no doubt, and a delicious tour of some esoteric terms, to boot, but you tripped me up with “skeptible,” at which I look skeptically.

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