The English poet William Wordsworth used to wander like the object that is the basis of our discussion today:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hillsfrom Daffodils by William Wordsworth
These fluffy looking balls of cotton floating around in the sky are actually made up of minute water droplets, frozen crystals and other small particles. But, instead of their composition, we would like to draw your attention to the words we composed from them.
While the word ‘cloud’ itself has been derived from Latin cumulus (a heap or pile), the Latin word for clouds was nebula. The equivalent Sanskrit and Greek terms are nabhas and nephos respectively.
If you have studied about the universe, you know that nebula now means an interstellar cloud of dust and gas such as hydrogen and helium. It is the birthplace of stars and planets. From these clouds of dust, we also have nebulous which means hazy or not clear (cloudy). For instance, if someone does not have a definite idea as to what they would like to do in the future, we can say that their aims are nebulous, i.e. not clear.
A nebulizer, on the other hand, is a machine that converts liquids such as paint or medication into fine mist. These days, it is most commonly used to refer to a medical device to administer medication in the form of mist which is inhaled. It is specially used in the case of asthma.
The word nuance has similar roots. It refers to a subtle difference in meaning, shade or sound. It’s actually a French word that means a slight difference in shade of color. In English, however, it isn’t only limited to colors and can be used in sentences like ‘he was aware of nuances of the local dialect’.
If these words still seem nebulous, the table below will help enhance your understanding. Then you can proceed to the quiz and crossword.
|Nebula||Interstellar cloud of dust and gas such as hydrogen and helium|
|Nebula||-ous||Hazy or not clear|
|Nebula||-izer||A machine that converts liquids such as paint or medication into fine mist|
|Nuance||A subtle difference in meaning, shade or sound|