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Zenzizenzizenzic

Definition: (n) As the picture indicates, this word means the eighth power of a number.

Pronunciation: zens-is-ens-iz-ens-ic

Origin: There are very few recorded instance of the usage of this word.  The first occurs in the work in which it was coined.  This was The Whetstone of Whit, in 1557 by Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, and it was originally written as zenzizenzizenzike.  The root word, zenzic, is German and derived from the Italian censo, which is further derived from the Latin census.  The Italian word indicated a square, more in reference to geographical area than an enumerative power.  However the German word repurposed the meaning to convey the mathematical concept of powers.  The word originated at a time when our current system of using superscript numbers to indicate powers had not yet come into being and so the power to which the number was raised was written out.

 Why this word?

There are 6 z’s in this word.  It is one of the more difficult words I have ever had to pronounce, and I have almost no call in my daily life to ever have to say such a word as I rarely discuss higher level mathematics.  It is almost completely lost from the English language.  So who wouldn’t want to know this word?  The novelty alone is highly appealing.

How to use the word Zenzizenzizenzic in a sentence?

“He loved calculators more than he cared to admit. He would punch a few buttons and quickly determine that 88 + 43 = 16777259 is prime and zenzizenzizenzic, for example, followed by 8888 + 7 = 386637279427098990084103, also prime and zenzizenzizenzic.”


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Written by Kate Fulton

Kate Fulton has a bachelor’s degree in classics and psychology from the University of Massachusetts and is working on a library science degree from Simmons College. She has always been fascinated by words- their usage, spelling, and etymology. Kate may be one of the few people who enjoyed the verbal section of the SAT. Yes, she is a word geek. Currently she bores her husband and young daughter with her love of vocabulary.

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