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From: "James Wynn" 
Subject: RE: (urth) Villus
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2003 09:31:47 -0600

Nigel lends Crush a hand:
>"Villus" is a Latin word (2nd declension, masculine) meaning "shaggy hair".
It is related etymologically to "pilus", the Latin word for "a single hair".

Crush responds:
Thanks Nigel! This is very useful to me. The confusing thing about "villus"
is that it is a sexually ambivalent name. In biology it is a teeny hairlike
projection in the small intestines. In botany it is a teeny hairlike growth
on the leaves or stems of some plants.

What's the same in both senses is the quality of smallness, and Villus is
the smallest "boy" at the palaestra. But, there are lots and lots of more
common words that carry that quality. Wolfe was sure aware of the ambiguity
of this word and selected it at least in part for that ambiguity. Why?? This
calls to mind Titi's sexually ambiguous name; Titi, the male counterspy
whose specialty was female impersonation.

-- Crush


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