Word of the Day

Monday, May 14, 2001


\AH-suh-fy\ , intransitive verb;
To change into bone; to become bony.
To become hardened or set in a rigidly conventional pattern.
transitive verb:
To change into bone; to convert from a soft tissue to a hard bony tissue.
To harden; to mold into a rigidly conventional pattern.
One is left with the image . . . of a lonely, aging dictator "still searching for something that is impossibly elusive," still haranguing his audiences, yet incapable of recognizing the flaws of the system he has created, and presiding over an increasingly ossified regime and society.
-- Stanley Hoffmann, "Power Unshared and Total", New York Times, November 30, 1986
Liberation from ossified community bonds is a recurrent and honored theme in our culture, from the Pilgrims' storied escape from religious convention in the seventeenth century to the lyric nineteenth-century paeans to individualism by Emerson ("Self-Reliance"), Thoreau ("Civil Disobedience"), and Whitman ("Song of Myself") to Sherwood Anderson's twentieth-century celebration of the struggle against conformism by ordinary citizens in Winesburg, Ohio to the latest Clint Eastwood film.
-- Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone
It was a case of fresh, consistent dogmatism against ossified, utilitarian dogma.
-- Milovan Djilas, Fall of the New Class
Ossify is from Latin os, oss-, "bone" + -fy, from Latin -ficare, akin to facere, "to make."
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