Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Moiety

This fine word is often used by molecular biologists and protein chemists to describe proteins that are comprised of separate subunits. However, this word has a long and distinguished history outside of biology, as I recalled when I found it in a crossword puzzle in a book published by Dell;

Moiety (MOY-uh-tee) [Old French meitiet, from Late Latin medietas, from Latin medius, "middle."]

n.

  1. One of two equal parts; a half.
  2. An indefinite part; a small portion or share.
  3. One of two basic tribal subdivisions.

Usage: Tom divided the cake and Becky ate with good appetite, while Tom nibbled at his moiety.

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Comments

  1. #1 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    October 26, 2006

    This fine word is often used by molecular biologists and protein chemists to describe proteins that are comprised of separate subunits.

    That’s because certain journal editors frown on the use of “gizmo” and “doohickey”. Don’t make me name names.

  2. #2 Joshua
    October 26, 2006

    It’s all over Shakespeare, too. ;)

  3. #3 Lab Cat
    October 26, 2006

    Moiety was my PhD advisor’s favorite word :)

  4. #4 Mel
    October 27, 2006

    Strangely, it was also the name of a group of rebels in the computer game Riven. I never quite understood that.

  5. #5 llewelly
    October 28, 2006

    … certain journal editors frown on the use of “gizmo” and “doohickey”

    Have you tried ‘pflurg’?

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