On Tuesdays I stretch my vocabulary skills by introducing you to five new words. Here are this week’s words to know:

epidemiology (noun): The branch of medicine that deals with the study of the causes, distribution, and control of disease in populations.

Word origin: from Medieval Latin epidēmia (an epidemic), epidemic + -logy

Found in NY Times: Maureen A. Murtaugh, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Utah… has published widely on weight gain in women.

Use it in a sentence: Epidemiologists have finally found the origin of the Spanish flu.

galen (noun): any physician

Word origin: Latin, Galenus Claudius, a.d. c130–c200, Greek physician and pioneer in the study of anatomy.

Found in: someone’s name

Use it in a sentence: This organization has been dominated by galens since the beginning of the century. 


  1. (noun) a convention of screwball and romantic comedies, in which the encounter of two potential romantic partners occurs in unusual or comic circumstances, contrived by the filmmakers entirely in order to bring them together. The meet-cute, by virtue of its unusual situation, helps to fix the potential relationship in the viewers’ minds, and the spark of the meeting is the impetus by which initial vicissitudes of the developing relationship are overcome.
  2. (verb): to meet-cute

Word origin: Film critics such as Roger Ebert or the Associated Press’ Christy Lemire popularized the term in their reviews, and may have originated the term.

Found in NY Times: By the end of “Eat, Pray, Love” Ms. Gilbert had managed to meet cute with both God… and a man she calls Felipe, a k a Mr. Right.

Use it in a sentence: As a child I was convinced that the only way to meet your future husband was to be subjected to some kind of meet-cute — that was the way to tell if you were really meant to be together.

Note: J taught me this term years ago after taking a screenwriting course. I, as is my nature, had to look it up again when I found it in the New York Times.

panacea (noun):

  1. a remedy for all diseases, evils, or difficulties; a cure-all.
  2. an answer or solution for all problems or difficulties.

Word origin: Latin panacēa, from Greek panakeia, from panakēs, all-healing : pan-, pan- + akos, cure.

Found in NY Times, quoting Booklist: Chin up, shoulders squared, she dismisses all notion of a panacea, earning our trust as well as our admiration.

Use it in a sentence: Many people treat vitamins as a panacea for maladies now solved only by conventional medicine.

soupçon (noun): a slight trace, as of a particular taste or flavor.

Word origin: French, from Old French sospeçon, suspicion, from Latin suspectiō, suspectiōn- (fear); from suspectus, past participle of suspicere (to suspect)

Found in a review of the HERE Arts Center’s new production LA Party: A charming soup-çon from the celebrated Phil Soltanoff whose collaborations with France’s CIE 111 have produced playful meldings of theatre, visual art, dance and new cirque.

Use it in a sentence: I won’t eat a dish that has more than a soupçon of onion.


I just came across this lovely little project by Kate and Molly Prentiss. For Kiss the Paper, the sisters spent a year writing to each other through art, guided by their friend Jennifer Lee. Here are some of their creations: