March 16, 2012
capsize (verb)
\KAP-syze\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: to become or cause to become upset or overturned : turn over
How do you use it?
"'One moment,' said the man. 'Do you mind telling me how you propose to beat the other boat?' 'I intend to crack on more sail,' said Stuart. 'Not in my boat, thank you,' replied the man quickly. 'I don't want you capsizing in a squall.'" (E. B. White, Stuart Little)
Are you a word wiz?

In Stuart Little, the owner of a miniature boat named the Wasp lets Stuart race it against another boat, the Lillian B. Womrath, despite fears of capsizing. Stuart and the man are speaking English, but word scholars think the word "capsize" came from the Spanish word "capuzar" or the Catalan word "cabussar." What do you think these words both mean?

"Capsize" starts with C, and C is the answer today! Both "capuzar" and "cabussar" mean "to thrust (the head) underwater." Scholars think that perhaps these words were adopted by English-speaking sailors to create "capsize." The head referred to is not the head that you and I have above our shoulders, however, but the head of a ship, which is the part that points forward and that includes the ship's bow and the parts next to the bow. Certainly when these parts of a ship or boat are thrust underwater, there's a danger that the ship or boat might overturn -- or capsize.
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