Episode 95: February 15, 2008
Grammar Girl here.
Today's topic is the word xeriscape.
This is kind of a self-indulgent podcast for me. I've been house hunting lately, and I swear if one more real estate agent tells me about a property's wonderful zeroscape, I'm going to rent for the rest of my life.
What is a Xeriscape?
The word is xeriscape. X-E-R-I-S-C-A-P-E. It comes from a combination of the word xeric, which means "having scant moisture," and the word scape, which in this case refers to a type of land. So a xeriscape is a type of landscape where the plants don't require a lot of water, and it usually doesn't require much other maintenance either. That makes it a wonderful thing in my book, and I can see why people get confused and think the word is zeroscape, because it requires zero maintenance, but according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word was coined by the Denver Water Department in 1981, and the word is xeriscape.
The root xeric in xeriscape come from the Greek prefix xer-, which means "dry." There aren't many English words that use the xer- prefix. Xeroderma is dry skin, xerography is a type of dry printing, xerophagy is eating dry food, and besides xeriscape there are just a few others.
Photo courtesy of Laura Herman, Tampa, Florida
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That's all. Thanks for listening.