It seems like scientists have a different meaning for perfectly ordinary words. To an astronomer, for example, “eccentricity” does not mean an inclination to strange behavior. Nor does “inclination” refer to a tendency. There are also the anomalies: true anomaly, mean anomaly, and eccentric anomaly. None of these are anomalous or eccentric. And don’t get me started on wakes. “Eccentricity” is one we deal with all the time. It simply describes how much an object’s orbit differs from a circular orbit. I have noticed an interesting trend among my younger colleagues the last few years: they pronounce “eccentric” either “eh-sentric” or “ee-sentric”. Call me old-fashioned, or maybe eccentric, but I can’t stand by and see a perfectly good double-c get the s-treatment. This ode is dedicated to the eccentrics.

Ode to Eccentricity
by Josh Colwell

“Eccentricity” has two c’s
like “occipital” and “accidentally”.
“Eccentricity” has two c’s
sandwiched between two short e’s.

Syllablically speaking,
If one can do such a thing,
That’s an “ek” then a “cen”:
Two c’s: no redundancy.
To skip one of those c’s
While maybe a breeze
Fills the ears and the brain with a bit of a quease.

Do our cars A-celerate when we step on the gas?
Only acceleration allows us to pass.
Howard Hughes’ bottled pee
Was no sign of E-centricity.

But we don’t need to rely on our O-cipital lobes,
Don’t take it from me,
Check the OED
The word is pronounced “EK-sen-TRISS-ity”

While soft c sounds may be palatable,
“E-centricity” is just not A-ceptable.

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JC

Planetary Scientist and Asst. Professor of Physics at University of Central Florida; Movie Buff; Trekkie; Jethro Tull fanatic; part-time actor, piano player, writer; and full-time husband and father.

7 thoughts on “”

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more, albeit obvious to me that you are right I’m glad that you have proven the case.

  2. According to wikipedia’s sources: “It is generally acceptable to use apostrophes to show plurals of single lower-case letters, such as be sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.”

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