As a reader and a writer, I encounter new words all of the time – I am particularly enthralled with the origins of words. However, every once in a while I run across a word that describes a concept that I know very well, but just didn’t realize there was a single word for it. Such was the case recently when I saw the word “majuscule”, which, I learned, is a “capital letter”, an “upper case letter”. Looking the word up, I quickly found that the “lower case letters”, not surprisingly, have a related word for them: “minuscule” (related, but not to be confused with “miniscule”, very small in size). How is it that I have been reading all these years and never knew there was such a grand word for such a common thing? While researching the words I also learned the origin of the terms “upper case” and “lower case”. They come from typesetting, where the letters that are used most are kept in, you guessed it, the lower case to allow the typesetter quicker access. Heck, I’ve always thought it referred to the relative heights of the letters themselves (somehow, I neglected to consider that the lower case letters with ascenders where just as tall as the upper case letters in most typestyles).
It’s a Capital (No Offense)
By December 4, 2009 ·on