Andrey (azangru) wrote,

I don't remember if I ever wondered about the word invaginate before, or just took it for granted, having first encountered it in Russian textbooks on various aspects of morphology. I haven't seen it for a while now, and when I saw it today again, I was sufficiently estranged from it to wonder. Vagina, in Latin, is a sheath, and must have acquired its anatomical meaning through metaphorisation. So, to invaginate would mean to put something in a sheath. Merriam-Webster's confirms that this seems to be the original sense of the word, which also means that to invaginate started as a transitive verb (you invaginated something). But then, somehow, someone in the biomedical sciences, probably in the eighteenth or the nineteenth century, thought that it was was a good idea to apply this word to inward-directed protrusions producing pockets on the surface, and also to use this word intransitively. Next, the word invagination happened, which wasn't describing the process of ensheathing something, but the resultant sheath; so should have been vagina instead, but somehow wasn't. A curious development.


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