Grams and Telegrams

By Mark Nichol - 3 minute read

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This post lists and defines words derived from the Greek term gramma, which pertains not only to a small weight, as in gram and compound words in which gram is the base, but also to letters (hence telegram) and writing (hence grammar).

Words That Begin with Gram
gram: a metric unit of weight equivalent to one one-thousandth of a kilogram, the base unit of weight in the metric system; gram is also an unrelated term for any of various legumes, such as chickpeas, and an informal variant of grandma
gramarye (also gramarye): magic, enchantment, or necromancy (likely from the Old French term gramaire, which initially referred to any book written in Latin and came to pertain to a book of grammar or of magic)
gramercy: an obsolete construction derived from “grand mercy,” a Middle English expression of gratitude or surprise based on the Anglo-French phrase grand merci (“great thanks”)
grammar: the study or system of word classes and their inflections, functions, and interrelationships; the application of rules of grammar in speech and writing; a grammar textbook; and, by extension, principles and rules of a particular practice or technique, or a set of such guidelines
grammar checker: software that evaluates grammar in writing used in electronic documents
grammarian: one knowledgeable about grammar
grammatical: pertaining to grammar
grammatist: a strict grammar expert
grammatolatry: worship of letters and words, especially in the context of devotion to Christian scripture
Grammy: one of a number of awards given for excellence in recorded music (derived from gramophone; see gramophone, below); the plural is Grammys
gramophile: one who collects or otherwise enjoys phonograph records
gramophone: a former trademark for a brand of phonograph, or record player
grimoire: a manual for calling demons and spirits (from an alteration in Old French of the word gramaire; see gramarye, above)

Words That End with Gram
aerogram: an obsolete term for an airmail letter, one specially designated for shipment on an airplane at a time when mail was usually sent by sea
anagram: a word or phrase formed by transposing another word or phrase
angiogram: an X-ray or gamma ray photograph produced by injecting a substance into blood vessels that is visible in the image
cardiogram: a tracing of movements of the heart
centigram: a metric unit of weight equivalent to one one-hundredth of a kilogram
cryptogram: a message in cipher or code, or a figure or symbol with hidden significance
dactylogram: a fingerprint
diagram: a drawing, or a chart or plan, that explains or shows parts of an object or an organism; as a verb, to explain or show something with such a representation
electroencephalogram: a tracing of brain waves
hexagram: a six-pointed star (a similar figure is called Solomon’s seal)
histogram: a visual record of frequency of occurrence
hologram: a three-dimensional image, or the pattern producing the image derived from a laser beam or similar beam
ideogram: a picture or symbol used to represent a thing or an idea rather than a word or phrase; also, a synonym for logogram (see logogram, below)
kilogram: the basic unit of weight in the metric system, roughly equivalent to 2.2 pounds
lipogram: a piece of writing deliberately written so that a particular letter of the alphabet is never used
logogram: a sign such as an ampersand (&), or a dollar sign, that represents a word
mammogram: a photograph of breasts using X-rays for medical examination, or the procedure for producing a mammogram
milligram: a metric unit of weight equivalent to one one-thousandth of a gram
monogram: a sign that combines a person’s initials into one symbol
pentagram: a five-sided star used as a symbol of magic or the occult
phonogram: a character or symbol that represents a sound, syllable, or word
pictogram: an ancient drawing or painting on rock, a symbol in a graphic system using pictures, or a representation of data using pictures (also called a pictograph)
seismogram: a record, produced by a seismograph, of a tremor
spectrogram: a diagram or image of the spectrum of light
telegram: a message sent by telegraph
tetragrammaton: the four Hebrew letters, usually represented by YHWH (Yahweh) or JHVH (Jehovah), constituting the name of God

Gramineous and graminiverous, meaning, respectively “pertaining to grass” and “having a diet of grass,” are unrelated.

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7 Responses to “Grams and Telegrams”

  • D.A.W.

    “aerogram: an obsolete term for an airmail letter, one specially designated for shipment on an airplane at a time when mail was usually sent by sea.”
    aerograms were also used when mail was usually sent by TRAIN.
    There were many, many mail trains & mail cars around the world.
    In fact, in the United States, there were special mail cars on the railroad lines (e.g.) connecting Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, and connecting New York with Chicago. Those rail cars were set up so that postal workers could SORT the mail (into various mailbags) for the destinations, thus expediting matters. For example, the mail from Washington to New York would be sorted into bags for Upper Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, The Bronx, Yonkers, Queens, West Brooklyn, East Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau County, New Haven, etc., and probably into smaller subdivisions.
    They probably sorted the mail on trains in many other countries, and for example, between London and Glasgow, and between Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto.
    If you wanted even faster mail, your could pay extra for airmail, e.g. from New York to Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Charles Lindbergh was an early airmail pilot on that east-west route.

  • D.A.W.

    “pentagram: a five-sided star used as a symbol of magic or the occult”
    A pentagram is actually a FIVE-POINTED STAR.
    A five-pointed star actually has ten sides.
    Draw one and count them!

  • D.A.W.

    “spectrogram: a diagram or image of the spectrum of light”
    Spectrograms and spectrographs actually stem from the earlier instrument – using the same science – called a spectroscope.
    Naturally, the output of a spectroscope is observed directly from the human eye. Some years later on, photography was applied to the instruments, giving us spectrography and spectrograms, especially useful in astronomy!
    A spectroheliogram or spectroheliograph gives us the spectrum of the sun.
    A radioscope gives us X-ray images by using chemical phosphors, but a radiogram gives us permanent X-ray images by using photographic film and new technologies.
    Europeans like to use the word “roentgenogram” (or similar names), named for the German scientist, Wilhelm Röntgen, who discovered X-rays in 1895, and the process of making pictures with them. Röntgen took an X-ray picture of his wife’s hand: the first way to show the internal bones without cutting it open!

  • D.A.W.

    Spectrograms can be used in a wide variety of technologies using a wide variety of electromagnetic radiation or particles:
    radio waves, infrared rays, visible light, ultraviolet rays, X-rays, gamma rays, electrons, neutrons, mesons, and on and on…

  • D.A.W.

    Add this one, too: epigram:
    “a pithy saying or remark expressing an idea in a clever and amusing way.”
    For example: “Able was I ere I saw Elba.” (supposedly said by Napoleon). This one is also a palindrome, as is another:
    “Lewd did I live & evil & did dwel’.” (using an old spelling.)
    “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!”

  • D.A.W.

    I love epigrams that are also limericks:
    “There once was a young lady named Bright,
    Whose speed was far faster than light.
    She set out one day,
    In a relative way,
    And arrived the previous night!”

  • D.A.W.

    Epigrams from American history:
    “We have met the enemy, and he is ours!”
    Oliver Hazard Perry from the Battle of Lake Erie.

    Modified during the 1960s by the writer of the “Pogo” comic strip:
    “We have met the enemy, and he is US!”
    (Another way of saying, “We are our own worst enemies.”

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