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Latin, Marcus. A praenomen, typically abbreviated when writing the full tria nomina.


Latin, Manius. A praenomen, typically abbreviated when writing the full tria nomina.

M, m, µ
Mass. Often, in problems involving only two masses, subscripts are avoided by using m for the smaller and M for the larger mass. In many-body mechanics problems, it is conventional to use M for the total mass (the mass the appears in Newton's equation for the center-of-mass motion). By Newton's Third Law, the center of mass acceleration depends only on external forces.

In a two-body problem, M = m1 + m2. In two-body problems involving only central forces, the center-of-mass and relative motions are independent. The equations of motion of the individual particles can be combined to yield a trivial equation of motion for the center of mass (zero acceleration) and an equation of motion that involves only the relative separation vector (and its second time derivative). By far the most common use of μ to indicate mass is in the two-body problem, to indicate the effective mass of the relative motion:

1     1       1
-  =  -   +   -
µ     m       m
       1       2

Mature. A movie rating of the MPAA (q.v.), later renamed GP and finally PG.

Mega. SI prefix for million, from a Greek word meaning `big.' (Another instance of this root is in the name for the last letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega -- for long-oh.)

Metal. It is convenient that M is not the chemical symbol for any element, so it can be used to stand for a generic or unspecified metal (or metal mix), as in the empirical formula M0.8N0.2 for a typical metglas (Allied-Signal TM) or splat-cooled amorphous metal, which typically contains 20% nonmetal (composition is chosen to hit a eutectic point).

``Splat-cooled'' is a technical term. There's probably a pretentious and dignified term one uses in making presentations to the suited species.

Back in the summer after my freshman year, I worked in the induction furnace ``lab'' at what was then called Allied Chemical; I helped cook up alloy premixes that would later be remelted and splat-cooled. This wasn't a full-time job, and I was stupid, so I let people know that I was available to help out on other stuff when I wasn't trying to break molly with a rubber mallet or again attempting to electrocute myself. One morning a splat-cooling set-up down the hall exploded -- pieces of quartz crucible lay all over the floor, some insulating tiles and blocks were charred, etc. It was an emergency, and helping clean up was easily the most appreciated thing I did that summer. When the suits stopped by later that day on their long-planned tour, they never noticed anything amiss.

Ahem. Many of you have written concerning the generic chemical formula M0.8N0.2 written above. You point out that N is the symbol of a chemical element, and that might lead to confusion if it is used to stand for a generic nonmetal also. No problem! It turns out that N stands for nitrogen, which is itself a nonmetal. See?

Until we develop the postmodern chemistry entry, it may be encouraging to some of you to know that in the metglas context, the nonmetal was usually phosphorus (P), boron (B) or a mix of those, possibly including a little bit of silicon and maybe something more exotic. Never nitrogen.

While the M's I have seen in chemical formulae have generally represented metals, as described at the top of this entry, I have to admit that while cleaning out the garage, I came upon a paper of N. Washida, H. Akimoto, and M. Okuda, ``HNO Formed in the H + NO + M Reaction System,'' in The Journal of Physical Chemistry, vol. 82, no. 21 (October 19, 1978), pp. 2293-2299. There M can be any of He, Ne, Ar, Kr, H2, N2, CO2, N2O, H2O, and SF6, and that's not an exhaustive list. Here M is any room-temperature gas species that does not participate chemically in the reaction. So M here really refers to a mass. The role of the molecular species indicated by M is obvious: it makes the reaction mechanically possible: In the gas phase, the H +NO <--> HNO reaction is a two-body problem. Viewed in the center of mass, the separate species H and NO approach each other with equal and opposite momenta. Without some additional species, the momentum and energy constraints are rather tight.

Oh, Lord! At this rate I'm never going to get the car back in the garage.

Meter. The fundamental metric unit of length. The meter has gone through a variety of definitions and standards, each designed to agree with the previous definition to within the precision of the earlier definition at the time the earlier definition was promulgated. It's always been about as long as the eighteenth-century French yard that it replaced. For the earliest definition, see the nmi entry.

Methyl. Use Me, if you can afford to buy a vowel.

Mike. Not an abbreviation here, just the FCC-recommended ``phonetic alphabet.'' I.e., a set of words chosen to represent alphabetic characters by their initials. You know, ``Alpha Bravo Charlie ... .'' The idea behind the choice is to have words that the listener will be able to guess at or reconstruct accurately even through noise (or narrow bandwidth, like a telephone). Mike is the most stupid letter name in the phonetic alphabet, because in noise it can be mistaken for bike or night.

Use Mojave.


Latin: Mille, `Thousand.' Roman numeral for one thousand. Still used to designate 1000 sheets of paper. See I entry for Roman-numeral links and explanations. The mile is etymologically related (vide mi.). Lower-case m (q.v.) is used in the SI.


SI prefix milli-, meaning one thousandth, from Latin Mille, `Thousand.' In the original version of the metric system, Latin roots were used for fractional prefixes (deci-, centi-, milli-) and Greek for large multiples (deka-, hecto-, kilo-, mega-). Where two prefixes began with the same letter (d or m, in particular), the multiple (Greek) could be capitalized. (This had the advantage that it was also more accurate, since upper-case Greek characters more frequently coincide with the Roman characters we write in: upper case µ is M. This Greek/Latin system of numerical prefixes broke down with micro, and after borrowing from all over the place, the SI is just making up prefactors chosen mostly for the convenience of their abbreviations.

Mismatch. M is often used as the variable name for a mismatch factor or divisor. A mismatch factor is intended to correct the value of some quantity measured under particular test conditions, so as to predict the value of that quantity under field, normal-operation, or other condition of interest.

I should mention Miss Match, a 2003 TV series starring Alicia Silverstone as a divorce lawyer who does matchmaking on the side, and of course she has her own personal romantic difficulties (anyone could write the project proposal for this). Okay, I mentioned it.

Mobile. The Intel Pentium M series chips are specifically designed for laptop computers. AMD laptop chips are designated with the word Mobile.

Molar. This is a moderately unusual measurement unit, or symbol, since its name is an adjective. There are various measures of concentration in chemistry, and for liquid solvents, molarity is a very common one. The molarity is defined as
                                moles of solute
                              liters of solution
so the units are built into the definition, and the molarity is a dimensionless quantity. In fact, one can say ``the molarity is 0.001'' and be understood, but one is more likely to hear ``the concentration is 1 millimolar.'' In the second phrase, one doesn't really know what ``concentration'' means until one hears the unit. The concentration the speaker has in mind might be molality or normality, or any other of the 8 or so different concentration definitions in common use. These different measures give equivalent information, in the sense that any single given value of molarity corresponds to a single value of molality. (For dilute aqueous solutions, the molarity and molality are about equal.) On the other hand, in order to make the conversion between concentration measures one needs more or less detailed information about the solvent, the solute, and how they interact.

I should add immediately that the quoted phrases above were chosen to highlight a distinction. More commonly, one would say ``it's a 1 millimolar solution,'' so ``molar'' is used as an adjective. It's my impression that the natural language used by chemists tends to avoid situations that force the word molar to be a noun (don't think of teeth), but there is a real issue here. For purposes of comparison, consider length. You can say ``the length is 5 m,'' and clearly 5 m is the value of the length and not the kind of length being discussed, so 5 m is a noun. That 5 m can function as a noun is clear from its occurrence in a phrase like ``5 m of pipe.'' (Of course, one can also use 5 m as an adjective. One can even say ``a 5 kg length of pipe,'' though this ``length'' is not the abstract quantity that has a value, but a concrete thing with various properties. Thus, one can say of a particular 5 m length of pipe it has a 5 cm o.d., whereas giving the width of an abstract 5 m length is meaningless. Another indication comes from the fact that English does not inflect predicate adjectives for number, so the expression ``the length is five meters'' implies that meters in this context is a noun.)

Murder. Corresponds to the telephone number six.

Maintenance and Adaptation.

Ma., Ma
MaríA. A common Spanish abbreviation. It has been such a common name that variants based on it are also common names. Sometimes a name will be written out with María abbreviated and one other given name (or more) not abbreviated, indicating that the person is not called María except perhaps formally. (In the preceding sentence, the ``person'' may not be implicitly female. There are common Spanish men's names compounded from María, like Juan María. In such cases, however, the abbreviation is mostly just an abbreviation and doesn't carry as much usage guidance; at least, when a Juan María is called by a single Christian name, it's not likely to be María.)

A disused María may occur in two ways that I can think of. It may be one of multiple given names that a child is saddled with (like ``María Elena Isabela...'') or it may be part of a María epithet like María del Rosario. (See gender of Spanish women's names for other examples.)

Markov Analysis. Quantitative analysis of a system's time evolution, based on two assumptions or conditions:
  1. At any given moment (continuous-time Markov) or at a sequence of moments (discrete-time Markov) a system can be completely described by the statement that it is in a particular state. (By choosing a sufficiently complete description, this condition can usually be satisfied for any well-understood physical system, in principle.) MA is usually applied statistically, to ensembles of systems, and one studies the time evolution of a probability distribution. The states that a single system can assume are the possible arguments of the probability distribution. In other words, one studies the probability that the system is in a particular state, and how that probability varies in time.
  2. The system evolves from one moment by making state transitions at a rate that depends only on the initial state. This is a highly restrictive assumption, but it holds to a greater or lesser degree of accuracy for many interesting systems, and it makes the problem solvable.
By the second assumption, a Markov process is described by a linear, first-order time-evolution equation -- a first-order differential equation for a continuous-time process, a first-order difference equation for a discrete-time process. Any such equation has a formal solution that can be written down trivially. However, evaluating the formal solution is not trivial. In the simplest case, a Markov process with a finite number of states, this involves evaluating the exponential of a finite-order matrix of transition rates or transition probabilities (in continuous- and discrete-time cases, resp.). If the system can assume an infinite number of states, one must evaluate the exponential of an appropriate infinite-order generalization of a matrix.

Ordinary Markovian analysis assumes transition rates or probabilities independent of time. If these vary in time, it is still possible to write a formal solution using time-ordering operators of the sort developed for quantum field theory.

Mask Aligner. A standard piece of optical equipment for photolithographic processes used in microelectronics fabrication.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts. USPS abbreviation.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Massachusetts. USACityLink.com has a page with mostly city and town links for the state.

MA, M.A.
Master of Arts. A degree beyond the Bachelor of Arts.

Mergers and Acquisitions.

In 1998, the total value of M&A in the EU was $600 billion; in 1999 it was $1200 billion. I have no idea how these numbers are handled when they involve parties outside the EU.

Middle Ages. When they begin or end is a question best avoided if possible.

The word you often screw up the spelling of is medieval or mediaeval. Mnemonic: co[a]eval.

The Middle Ages is divided into two parts: the Early Middle Ages (that comes first) and the Late Middle Ages (that comes last). It's not divided into three parts because ``Middle Middle Ages'' would sound silly.

(Domain code for) Morocco.

Multiple Access. This is a synonym of multiplex[ing|ed], and an excuse to add a vowel to your acronym. See, for example, CDMA or DAMA.

Manufacturers' Aircraft Association. A short-lived US industry organization founded in 1917 as the Aircraft Manufacturers' Association. After the US entered WWI, the association drew up a cross-licensing agreement to allow manufacturers to have unrestrained use of airplane patents for war production. Some time later the name was reordered, and in 1918 or 1919 the MAA was dissolved. See ACCA.

Mathematical Association of America. A professional society of college and university mathematics teachers, founded in 1915, with about 30,000 members in 1995. Perhaps you sought the American Mathematical Society.

The Medieval Academy of America. ``[T]he first organization of medievalists in North America when it was founded in 1925, [it] is the largest organization in the world devoted to medieval studies. Its goal is the support of research, publication, and teaching in all aspects of the Middle Ages.'' These historian types must be pretty clever to master the conceptual subtleties of history. I can't even guess when after 1925 it ceased to be the first organization of medievalists in North America. It must have something to do with temporal logic.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference.

MAgnesium and ALuminum hydrOXide. These two weak bases [Al(OH)3 and Mg(OH)2] are the active ingredients in the antacid. Other antacids, like Gelusil and Mylanta, use the same active ingredients and add simethicone (an antiflatulent). Di-gel contains those three ingredients plus magnesium carbonate [MgCO3], a weak basic salt.

The active ingredient in Rolaids is a weak base with a long name, if not a strong one: aluminum sodium dihydroxy carbonate [AlNa(OH)2CO3].

The two ``-Seltzer'' products include bicarbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate in the newfangled name; NaHCO3 in either case) and citric acid. Alka-Seltzer has aspirin as well. (Regarding the ``alka,'' see the entry for alkali. Bromo-Seltzer in its original formulation had a bromide. Today it contains the analgesic acetaminophen.

Malaysian Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).

Monoclonal AntiBod{y|ies}. Viagra, Cialis, Re-Fi, Canadian prescriptions -- sure. Woman suits manufacture wholesale China, winding machine -- why not? But RabMAb spam? MEK1 Phospho, Bcl-2 Family Proteins? My inbox is the world's dispos-all!

MACintosh. An underpowered PC in an unbusinesslike box, with a GUI that used to be innovative, a darling keyboard with cute little keys that are just sooo perfect for dainty little fingers, a pretty little one-button mouse that's smooth and round so it feels the same whether you're holding it straight or cockeyed or throwing it across the room in frustration, and many other delightful features. The sentimental favorite.

Awwww -- in August 2005, Apple came out with a mouse that has more than one button. Apparently, they're working hard to stay ahead of Windows and Unix which didn't have three buttons, or two buttons and a scroll wheel, until, uh, well, whenever.

Maximum Allowable Concentration.

Medium Access Control. Via MAU, of course. Medium here is not the ordinary adjective nor the extraordinary psychic, but just the singular of media. Most people expand it ``Media Access Control.''

Membrane Attack Complex. Via MAU, of course.

(US) Military Airlift Command.

Movimento Apostolico Ciechi. Italian `Blind people's apostolic movement.' Some would argue that this is not a distinction.

Multiply-Accumulate Cycle.

Mycobacterium Avium Complex. Bacterial infection found in HIV positives with T4 counts below 50/ml. Related to tuberculosis. Can cause fever, weight loss, and chronic diarrhea. This is a way to lose weight but good, but it's not a good way to lose weight.

The native and common name of Lepidium meyenii, an herb native to the high Andes. You want to know more? I know no more. See the Wikipedia entry for maca. Go ahead! I ain't proud. Y'all come back now, ya hea'? You wanna some back an' try our our delicious Macca entry laytah'!

(No, there isn't any clever joke you're missing in the previous paragraph. I just felt like rolling into the ditch of nonstandard English, and I did.)

Earlier this (1996) campaign year, after the Republican convention, retired General Colin Powell attempted to lay to rest the vicious canard that African-Americans have a special talent for dance, by personally committing Macarena. Fortunately, he was mostly hidden by an amazed and horrified crowd. Acting on her own authority in the emergency, Liddy Dole assured the nation at a Denver campaign rally on October 29 that her husband should be elected president because then there would be ``no more Macarena.'' Despite this irresistible campaign promise, Bob (``too honestly cynical for president'') Dole is still way behind in the race. [The preceding sentence used to say ``Bob (`the inarticulate') Dole,'' but we reconsidered later in the context of the presidential Bush league. We also tested ``cynically honest'' before settling on the current popular choice; we're always fine-tuning the entries to optimize your looking-things-up experience.]

Update 1998: Bob lost but he found a new career as a bail-bondsman for Newt Gingrich and a character actor in advertisements.

Update 2000: After her display of leadership in the Macarena crisis, Liddy Dole was considered a credible candidate for the 2000 Republican nomination. She ran a close second in many early (1999) polls, but eventually dropped out. Focus groups will prove that people were just afraid there'd be a new spate of Bob Dole erectile insufficiency advertisements if she became president. Look: Bill and Monica was enough. Change the subject. Let's have some good, clean, old-fashioned abuse-of-power and election-fraud scandals.

Update 2001: Done. Bush (``the inarticulate, junior'') became President and Colin (``Ay!! Macarena!!'') Powell became Secretary of State. God help us.

More on Macarena in the Richard Simmons entry.

macaroney, macaroni
Scottish pasta. That's why ``mac and cheese'' is made with Cheddar.

(Seriously, it is widely adverted that in 1660, Isaack B. Fubine of Savoy, patented macaroni at The Hague. I don't know what that means, so I'm not going to worry about it.)

Obviously another Scottish contribution to world cuisine. Very popular for Passover.

Multi-center Airborne Coherent Atmospheric Wind Sensor.

Sir Paul McCartney. The Paul McCartney mailing list is named MACCA-L. Cf. maca.

It turns out (don't tell the glossarist!) that Macca is a common nickname in the UK (or in England, at least) for anyone (not just Sir Pretty Face) whose surname begins with the Gaelic prefix Mac or Mc. I guess that in the early or middle twentieth century, ``Mack'' may have functioned that way in the US.

Melcor Accident Consequence Code System. Endorsed by the EPA for modeling air dispersion of radionuclides following an accidental release not explosively initiated. Cf. ERAD for explosive release.

Macdonald, Ross
Ross Macdonald, the writer of detective novels? Real name: Kenneth Millar.

Mid America Chamber Executives.

I might as well warn you now that this entry is under construction, speculative, and boring. Better read it now before it gets worse.

Machen is a German verb cognate with English make. The ulterior etymology of these words (beyond proto-Germanic) is uncertain.

The English noun might (the word that has a sense similar to strength) happens to coincide in sound and spelling with the modal might (subjunctive form of may), but the words don't seem to have any etymological relationship. German has a homonym pair: Macht is a noun also meaning `strength, force, or might' (as in Wehrmacht, `armed forces' or more literally `war force'). The word macht, on the other hand, is the 3d-pers. sing. pres. indic. of machen (usage example below). There doesn't seem to be a relationship between these words either, besides accidental coincidence.

German and English have another pair of cognates, tun and do, that like machen and make also have similar meanings. To native speakers of English, the assignment of meanings to machen and tun can seem a scrambled version of that of make and do. For example, ``er macht nichts'' means `he does nothing' rather than `he makes nothing.' Conversely, es tut mir Leid, literally `it does me sorrow,' means `I'm sorry' -- something like `it makes me sorry.' Probably the simplest thing one can say about the situation is that machen is a broader term than make in English, in part because there is less expectation that some thing (Ding) will be made. Crudely, one can say that machen is used more than tun, whereas make and do are comparably common. (It seems that Old English used the etymons of these words a bit more like German does now, the make etymon being much more common.)

Okay, I had some other ideas, about fashion effects in language and expressions like ``make trouble,'' ``make time,'' and ``do time,'' but the articulation is still embarrassingly vague. I've commented them away for the duration, so we can get the rest of these entries published.

Here's a peek behind the curtain. I found a clew to pull on: ``The Historical Development of the Causative Use of the Verb Make with an Infinitive,'' by Jun Terasawa, in Studia Neophilologica, 1985, vol. 57, #2, pp. 133-143. Abstract:

The development of the English causative construction with make + an infinitival complement is examined. Two types of causative V -- agentive causative & pure causative -- are distinguished, differing in both semantic & syntactic structure. Agentive causatives are seen to place stricter semantic restraints on causer, causee, & complement than do pure causatives. It is argued that the make construction began as a pure causative & later developed into an agentive causative. 5 Tables, 11 References.

This next one looked promising at first: ``Investigating Learner Vocabulary: A Possible Approach to Looking at EFL/ESL Learners' Qualitative Knowledge of the Word.'' [I've quoted the awful title accurately, but the paper itself is written in fluent English.] According to the abstract, the study involved ``a contrastive corpus analysis observing the uses of the high frequency verb make in learner & native writing...'' and it was published in a journal published in Germany [IRAL, vol. 39, #3, pp. 171-194 (2001)]. Unfortunately, the researchers (Erik T.K. Liu and Philip M. Shaw) studied only CSLE's.

Jackpot! ``The Grammatical and Lexical Patterning of make in Native and Non-Native Student Writing,'' by Bengt Altenberg and Sylviane Granger, in Applied Linguistics, vol. 22, #2, 173-194 (June 2001). From the abstract: ``The article focuses on what proves [sic] to be the two most distinctive uses of make: the delexical & causative uses. Results show that EFL learners, even at an advanced proficiency level, have great difficulty with a high frequency verb such as make. They also demonstrate that some of these problems are shared by the two groups of learners under consideration (Swedish- & French-speaking learners) while others seem to be L1-related.''

MAssive Compact Halo Object. An aggregation of matter too small to have been directly (i.e. optically) observed in interstellar space, and too sparsely dispersed to have been sighted locally, but dense and massive enough, at least in galactic halos, to explain the amount of dark matter implied by galactic motion. Also MAssive Condensed Halo Object. Also the name of an old collaboration of astronomers that was looking for these critters. (It was active in the 1990's; as of 2008 it apparently no longer exists.)

Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System. A term used by the US IRS. If you need help preparing your tax return, try visiting the IRS website.

MAC's SYmbolic MAnipulation System.

Mine Awareness and Clearance Training Programme. A UN program primarily concerned with mines in Afghanistan. The name was later changed to UNMCP and finally to MAPA.

Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education.

A word that has traditionally meant intellectually unsound, the usual specialized sense of insane. Now it is widely used with the meaning of angry.

Cicero, in his Tusculan Disputations, quotes Ennius to the effect that ira initius insaniae -- `anger is the beginning of insanity.'

Median of Absolute Deviations away from median. A measure of the breadth of a distribution. Explicitly: given a probability distribution, determine a median m for the distribution. Now the absolute deviations from this median, |x-m|, have their own distribution. (If the initial distribution is f(x), then g(u) = f(m+u) + f(m-u) is a distribution function for the absolute deviations u > 0.) The median m' of this new distribution g (i.e. m' is the median value of u) is the MAD. If we call the first and third quartiles q1 and q3, then m' clearly has a value between q3-m and m-q1.

Mutual Assured Destruction. Apt acronym for the strategic defense principle that guided the US to the peaceful conclusion (illustrated in Smithsonian exhibit) of the Cold War. Maybe you would like to visit the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

Actually, McNamara's name for the principle was just ``Assured Destruction.'' The longer name with the punny acronym was invented by opponents.

Mad Cow Disease
Popular name of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, q.v.).

Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Founded by the mother of a victim. French name: Les Mères Contre l'Alcool au Volant (a somewhat literal translation: `the mothers against alcohol behind the wheel').

Manufacturing Automation and Design Engineering--program of ARPA, since 1990.

made possible by
An important phrase used in thanking sponsors of TV programs that no commercial broadcasting executive figured could scrape together an honest audience and that therefore require the funding of viewers like you.

A program that is ``made possible by'' <name of public-spirited organization here> clearly would not have been possible without that organization. Evidently, we're talking metaphysical necessity here. No other organization could have done it. To you it looks like dollars, but really it is existential ambrosia. Without that particular organization, the very existence of the program would have been not endangered, not imperiled, but completely and utterly nullified and kaput. That's why they didn't say ``made possible by funding from'' <name of public-spirited organization here>.

You probably didn't realize these facts. You need philosophical training, pronto.

A town in Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York and Virginia. Accent on first syllable; sounds like `Madge-rid.'

Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale.

Modified Air Defense System. A successor to the PATRIOT missile system. What is it about the letters M - A - D?

Mad, Stark
In Britain, it's ``stark staring mad'' and in America it's ``stark raving mad.'' This reflects traditional British reserve.

Multiple ACPI Description Table.

Magnetocrystalline Anisotropy Energy.

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineer[ing].

Mississippi Association of Educators. Read something of its history at the MEA entry.

Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists. In many places, MAES and SHPE are one club.

Management Assistant Expert System.

Magnetic Anisotropy Field.

Main Assembly Fixture.

Maintenance Action Form. The form of action without the maintenance.

Manpower Authorization File.

Mass Air Flow.

Master Address File. We know where your data live.

Maximum-Amplitude Filter.

Mission Analysis File.

Mission Aviation Fellowship.

Mixed Amine Fuel.

Multiple-Access Facility. I'm okay; you're okay.

An Argentine comic strip and its star. This page has some samples. This page has a more detailed inventory of characters. Bigger samples here (for comics with few words -- precisely the ones you don't need large).

Modélisation et Analyse Fonctionnelle des Applications des Liaisons de Données Air-sol.

Microwave and Analog Front End Technology.

MAFF, Maff
(British) Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Sometime in the 1990's, I think, it became Defra.

Majors Always First In Answering. A method of bridge bidding.

MAxwell's equations using the Finite Integration Algorithm. A program first created around 1980 to simulate how particle beams move through a cavity under the influence of RF fields. The code was developed by Thomas Wieland, using the ``finite integration technique'' (FIT), starting in 1975 while he was at Technische Hochschule Darmstadt. The original application was in the determination of the electromagnetic modes of cavities of arbitrary shape, filled in an arbitrary way with dielectric materials. This research was first published in 1977.

In 1979 Wieland moved to CERN, where he adapted the numerical method to other particle-beam problems. Over the next decade he continued to develop the program, which at some point was dubbed MAFIA. It's well-known code; anyway, it's not exactly my field, yet I've noticed it mentioned in a couple of places. Maybe if it had some other name I wouldn't have noticed. In any case, most of the information in this entry is cribbed from a 2009 <PhysicsWorld.com> article by Hamish Johnson.

Monotonic Array Grammar. A kind of picture grammar, q.v.. A subclass in the Chomsky-like hierarchy of isometric array grammars (IAG's).


  1. A tube of approximately rectangular cross section, for storing and carrying packaged IC's.
  2. A building for storing ammunition.
  3. A rigid tube for storing and carrying bullets; the tube is approximately rectangular in cross-section and can be clipped into place for automatic or semi-automatic loading. Also `clip.' Viewed from the side, the standard clip for an AK-47 looks like a sector of annulus. Hence the name ``banana clip.''
  4. Camouflage for a hammer.
  5. A bound periodical you can subscribe to at a discount at one of these websites:

Cf. journal and periódico. While you're there read on through the periodista entry.

magazine follower
A piece attached to the end of the magazine spring, separating it from the cartridges which are pushed upward in the magazine or clip, into the barrel of an automatic pistol. You were probably thinking of emitter follower. For a picture of a couple of big guns, including a ``six,'' visit this page.

Master of the Academy of General Dentistry.

Magdalene College
Well, there's one each at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The name is sometimes pronounced maudlin. Samuel Pepys was graduated from Magdalene at Cambridge, and his famous diary ended up there.

According to Foxe's Acts and Monuments, William Tydale went up to Oxford in Easter term 1510 and was entered of Magdalene Hall, as they used to say.

MAp and GEography Round Table (of the ALA). Sounds like maggot pronounced in a hyperrhotic accent, so they don't accept any members from Brooklyn. That's why I got lost trying to escape Queens one day.

This way to the next ALA round table.

Modified Adjusted Gross Income. These didn't come bearing gifts. MAGI is a term used by the US IRS. If you need help preparing your tax return, try visiting the IRS website.

A VLSI CAD tool. A particular one.

Nickname of Earvin Johnson, Los Angeles Laker who retired when he discovered that he is HIV-positive, but returned to play on the 1992 Olympics dream team, and briefly resumed his court career in 1996. And then yet again for a couple of games when he noticed he still hadn't died yet. You know, basketball is not tiddly-winks; it's violent and people get cut and bleed, sometimes.

Magic is also the team name of the Orlando, Florida NBA franchise. Orlando's long-time star, Shaquille O'Neal (more at the amphorae entry), was recruited to play for the LA Lakers; they got their magic back. For a while, anyway. In July 2004, Shaq went back (to Florida anyway, and the Miami Heat).

Perhaps the essence of magic is contained in Arthur C. Clarke's ``Third Law'':

``Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.''

[In Profiles of the Future (1962).]

Of course, a little stagecraft may not be amiss (see VLIW).

magnetic ion
Ion of an atom which has an incomplete shell of electrons. Usually refers to transition metal ions with unpaired electrons in 3d, 4d, or 5d shell (in periods IV, V, and VI), which give rise to paramagnetism and ferromagnetism.

In solids at sufficiently high temperatures, magnetic ions give rise to paramagnetism. The spins in a paramagnetic material align (i.e., tend to align, on average) with the applied magnetic field H, and give rise to a magnetization M that is parallel to and in the same direction as H. The total magnetic induction B is therefore larger than the applied field H. This behavior is essentially the sum of the behaviors of the individual atoms, acting more-or-less independently. In paramagnetism, M is proportional to the applied field, through a proportionality constant called the susceptibility <chi>: M = <chi>H.

At low temperatures, a qualitatively different magnetic behavior occurs, which involves a collective interaction of the atoms: the field of an atom's oriented neighbors is enough to keep it oriented as well. As a result, there is a spontaneous magnetization M, representing the self-consistent parallel orientation of atomic spins. This is the behavior of an individual ``domain,'' which might be 1000 Å for Fe. In large samples, the behavior is complicated by the interactions among different domains, and hysteresis (history or memory effects) occur.

There is a qualitative contrast between induced-field effects in magnetism and electricity: in magnetic materials, the predominant sign of the effect is paramagnetic -- M reinforces H, while in dielectric materials it is opposite -- P diminishes the effect of D. The fundamental reason for this is in the sign of the force between similar elements: in magnetism, the Biot-Savart or Amperé (inverse-square) force law between two equal (parallel) current elements is attractive, while Coulomb's (inverse-square) force law for two equal charges is repulsive.

Other kinds of behavior occur, although metals with high magnetic-ion concentrations eventually (at low enough temperature) exhibit ferromagnetism. The transition from paramagnetism occurs at the Curie-Weiss temperature TC (capital tee, sub-cee, if you're not Netscape-enhanced), and is signaled by a divergence of the susceptibility as <chi> ~ 1/(T - TC) in the paramagnetic regime.

One-and-a-half liter resealable container for ethanol-water solutions. Twice the size of a regular wine bottle. Cf. jeroboam.

Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools. They confer one ``Distinguished Master's Thesis Award'' each year. MAGS has 160 members, as of fall 1996. I suppose I ought to update the entry. Illinois 23, Indiana 13. What sport is that? Oh. Iowa 4, Kansas 9, Kentucky 3, Michigan 16, Minnesota 10, Mississippi 1 (Mississippi State University has a satellite campus upriver?), Missouri 14, Nebraska 7, North Dakota 2, Ohio 21, Oklahoma 7, South Dakota 4, Wisconsin 14. As of January 2008, then, 148 graduate schools. About one school lost per year since 1996, unless I miscounted grievously then.

Member (of the) Appraisal Institute. The Appraisal Institute is the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers.

Multiple Access Interference. Interference from other users of the same multiple-access system. Also called MUI.

Mycobacterium Avium Intracellulare. Alternate name for MAC, q.v..

mailing list
A centralized server of email messages. There are essentially two types: discussion groups and newsletters.

A mailing list for a discussion group is a common address to which list subscribers send a single copy of their message, and from which they receive a copy of any mails. This kind of system is also called a mail reflector. Discussion groups can be moderated or not. After political arguments nearly destroyed ANCIEN-L in 1998, for example, it was reconstituted as a moderated group, with postings being vetted by one overworked list owner. The attendant delays destroy some of the immediacy that unmoderated lists have. An unmoderated list on a decent server can reflect messages around the world in a few minutes -- i.e., the delays are just the usual email latencies. A moderated list is occasionally also used to create a low-traffic announcements list by selection of relevant messages from a high-traffic list (e.g., classics-m).

This file from a humor archive accurately describes the natural life-cycles of mailing lists that ever get large.

A newsletter is essentially an application of a moderated mailing list for dissemination of an email newsletter. A lot of organizations use moderated lists to send out advertisements to potential customers, directives and news to employees, etc.

The traditional mailing-list software is run completely by email commands -- one subscribes, unsubscribes, changes options, accesses archives, etc., all by sending a batch job of command lines in an email to the mail server. These commands are all supposed to be sent to a different address than regular postings, but a lot of subscribers forget. Listproc, and probably listserv as well, will bounce back mail that begins with what looks like a command (the words unsubscribe, set, etc.)

The most common software packages for traditional mailing lists are LISTSERV, ListProc and MAJORDOMO, in about that order. Trailing behind are MAILBASE, popular in Britain, and the quite rare MAILSERV (I've only seen it on vaxen). Mailserv or MailServ is also the name of a web interface for MAJORDOMO. This useful page describes the (generally similar) commands for these five kinds of mailing lists. The software often recognizes synonyms for the most common commands, and accepts unambiguous abbreviations (i.e., it right-completes the command name).

There are now a number of web-based programs that allow mailing lists to be set up, managed, subscribed to, etc. all via http protocol. The email protocol is used only to send the mailing list messages. In effect, the parallel tasks have been transferred from the list processor address to an http server. A few of these are Cool List, Egroups, which absorbed OneList and which itself has been absorbed by Yahoo! Groups in early 2001, PostMaster General, Topica, The Vlists Network, Lyris.net and ListBot (associated with MSN). (And in case you're wondering, these aren't in any coherent order that I can remember or discern any more.)

Otfried Lieberknecht maintains a select list of literary and historical mailing lists.

[column] David Meadows's extensive Atrium site includes a guide to Classics-related discussion groups, although he's almost as behind on updating links as we are.

An excellent moderately-inclusive directory of mailing lists is Publicly Accessible Mailing Lists (described at the PAML entry).

The largest general index of mailing lists (as well as newsgroups and chats) is probably Liszt, ``the'' mailing list directory. (Over 90,000 list listings as of March 2000, as well as 30,000 newsgroups and 25,000 IRC chats.) You know, I was just about to point out that apparently Liszt was written by Scott Southwick, and that he never gets any credit for it. Just to check, I followed the liszt link, and now (July 2001) I find that http://www.liszt.com autoforwards to <http://www.topica.com/>, Sic transit gloria mundi. Liszt was better, and it was sponsored by a disinterested party.

An extensive directory of publicly accessible mailing lists that use LISTSERV software is Catalist. There's also a directory of lists at Mailbase. Tile.net offers a search tool that searches a fairly extensive (and partly redundant) index, so far as I can tell on a cursory look.

The most appropriate place for list managers to discuss mailing lists is on the mailing list List-Managers, hosted by GCA.

<eList.com>, which sounds like it might be a mailing-list service, has changed its name to MessageBot!. It's a ``totally free service keeps track of the emails of people who wish to be notified of changes to your website.''

MessageBot! can be used to jury-rig a kind of mailing list also: If a site is set up to archive in web-accessible form the email sent to some address, then users who sign themselves up to be notified of changes at the site will effectively be notified in email of additional messages that have been posted to the site. They've actually automated a process similar to that: a web site where postings are entered via form (which they describe as ``the user enters their own email themselves'').

 If you own a website, you can sign up for MessageBot, insert the free code
 at your website, and invite your visitors to leave their email address in
 the MessageBot window at your site. 

mail itch
I've heard about this on the radio. They say medicated coal bomb cures it, but what exactly is ``mail itch''? I searched the web, but the hits all have some weaseling punctuation between mail and itch.

But here's a history of ITCH.

I scraped this entry together around 1996. At the time, I thought those radio ads were a bit crass. Ah, lost innocence! Wasn't radio personality Steven King, er-- Alan King, er... Mr. King -- wasn't he hawking ``medicated coal bomb''? Or was it Saul Palmetto? Whatever. Larry has been married 53 times, each time to a younger female. (The day he marries an embryo, there will be a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion for same-sex couples.) I guess you might understand his obsession with these products. See ED, run.

Please Mister Postman, look and see / if there's a letter, a letter for me!

main sequence
Not a sequence in time. More like a point in times. Main sequence stars are stars that conform to a relatively tight luminosity-temperature relation. At any given time, most visible stars -- 80-90% -- are in the main sequence. The main sequence was first discovered as an empirical relationship (see H-R diagram). It is now understood to represent the stable properties of typical hydrogen-burning stars.

MAJor. A military rank.

The International Monitoring System's (IMS's) code for the seismic station in Matsushiro, Japan. Probably not too far from MJAR.

MAJORDOMO, Majordomo
A free software package for mailing lists. It was intended to be and is bare-bones. An indication of this is the fact that while on LISTSERV and ListProc you switch to the digest by a set command, in MAJORDOMO you simply unsubscribe and resubscribe to the parallel digest mailing list. On the other hand, MAJORDOMO is free. Also, you can't set nomail and remain on the subscribers list while you're away -- instead you just unsubscribe. On the other hand, MAJORDOMO is free. There isn't even any support for archiving of posts. On the other hand, MAJORDOMO is free. (And you can get the Perl source code and play with it.)

Great Circle Associates (GCA) is the Majordomo home; it distributes the software, hosts support and development mailing lists for it, and serves some documentation.

Mailing lists at the University of Alberta are handled with MAJORDOMO; see their mailing lists page for more documentation.

There is a simple web-based interface for MAJORDOMO called Mailserv or MailServ. Learn about that from U Alberta's page. MajorCool is another web interface to Majordomo, from Conveyance Digital.

major world language
When Samuel B. Trieman (1925-1999) was Director of Graduate Studies in the Physics Department at Princeton University, he brought through the first students from the PRC. The university allowed departments to waive the foreign language proficiency requirement for graduate students who were native speakers of a ``major world language,'' but didn't define or provide a list of which languages qualified.

One day, a memo appeared in all the graduate students' mailboxes. In it, Prof. Trieman declared, by the authority vested in him as Director of Graduate Studies, that Chinese was a ``major world language.'' No one challenged this arrogation.

An intransitive verb meaning achieve sufficient enrollments to be offered. Said of elective classes. It might be regarded as a short form of ``make it'' or ``make the cut'' or both. In high school, third- or fourth-year language classes often don't make, depending the language and the school size. If you're a teacher with courses on the bubble, then you've got to work to ``keep your numbers up.''

A book of the Hebrew Bible. The last of the twelve minor prophets.

A highly characteristic copper ore: Cu2CO3(OH)2 with this structure:

                                              O -- H
                                     O -- Cu
                             O == C
                                     O -- Cu
                                              O -- H

or equivalently, since the bond angles and lengths are only drawn approximately and since structures rotate about single bonds,

              O == C

Green, and very pretty when polished. In English the name dates back to Anglo-Norman, and stems from the Latin word molochitis. According to Pliny the Elder, the Latin name was derived from the Greek word for mallow, a purple-flowered plant. Not only is this color association puzzling, but it's not clear that Pliny had the same mineral in mind. Even if Pliny's claim was incorrect for the Latin word, it is correct (because self-fulfilling) for Modern English. The Anglo-Norman form was melochite (the changed first vowel reflects medieval Latin usage), but English (as well as French) has respelled it to conform with the Greek word for mallow (maláchê). For something about the occurrence of malachite, see the Fahlerz entry. Another hydroxy-carbonate copper mineral is azurite.

One of the 22 scheduled languages of India with official language status in the state of Kerala and the union territories of Lakshadweep and Puducherry (official name since 2006; still better known as Pondicherry). (Regarding the last: Malayalam is only used in Mahé, the Malayalam district of Puducherry that is an enclave on the coast of Kerala.

Malayalam diverged from Tamil in the sixth century or earlier, but over time absorbed a lot of Sanskrit. Supposedly in consequence of this, the Malayalam alphabet has the largest number of letters among the Indian languages and is reportedly capable of representing the sounds of all Dravidian languages as well as Sanskrit. This seems an exaggeration: the script has only 36 consonant letters, and symbols to represent only 16 or 17 vowels. I can believe that this is enough to represent any of those languages individually, but only if the individual characters are interpreted differently for different languages. (Consider just two similar languages like German and English: both have 12-14 distinct vowels in their standard dialects, but taking, say, standard German and one standard English pronunciation together, there are typically about 20 distinct vowels all told.)

Sadly, Malayalam isn't a palindrome in Malayalam script.

Michiana Academic Library Consortium. The members are four Christian schools around South Bend, Indiana, including the University of Notre Dame. The others are Bethel College Indiana, Holy Cross College, and Saint Mary's College. (Bethel College is Protestant, historically Mennonite; the others are Roman Catholic.)

Not related to RMALC.

Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. What were they thinking? Mal has the same meaning as a prefix in Spanish as in English, mal is also an adjective and noun meaning `bad, evil.' The job of their ``education department'' is to educate parents in how to press for implementation or enforcement of court orders and legislation pushed by their ``legal department.''

Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization.

male masculinity
Mary insisted on reading me this passage, and now I insist on transcribing. Don't fight it. You know you want it. You can't resist -- and you shouldn't. You pulse with anticipation. Afterwards, suddenly,
... he realized he hadn't even gotten fully undressed. As her feet hit the floor, the ruined nightgown dropped to her feet. She looked up at him.

    ``I'm sorry. I was too rough. Did I hurt you?''

    ``No, I can honestly say that what you did to me didn't hurt at all.''

What a gift for graceful description and realistic dialogue! What subtle allusion! And no, ``his male masculinity'' isn't in that particular purple passage. But I remember. I remember Mary holding its pinkness (the book's cover) and reading and reading and how from between my teeth I let out a hoarse, longing moan (okay, it was actually more of a contemptuous laugh) and how I felt and--oh! I felt amused. But now I can't find the right sex scene (the bit above is at p. 201), and anyway the book is pretty homogeneous pulp, so I'm sure you can enjoy similar gems elsewhere as you stalk this one. (We're talking about The Bare Facts by Karen Anders, from the Harlequin B series, B putatively standing for Blaze. Price: $1 at the dollar table.)

A Spanish verb meaning `misspend.' In English, the verb waste has as one of its meanings a forceful expression of misspend. In Spanish there is no common alternative, so malgastar covers the entire semantic range covered by the two English verbs.

mall hair
Large bangs held up with hair spray, with wings and everything.

Memory ALLOCat{ion|e}. A C-language operator. Memory allocated with malloc() should be deallocated with free(). In C++, use new() and delete(). It's advertised as being a lot cleaner. The brand-x comparison I've seen is
int *x = (int*)malloc(20*sizeof(int));
int *x = new int[20];
delete x;


Latin, Mamercus. A praenomen, typically abbreviated when writing the full tria nomina.

March, April, May. Aggregated Spring data. Please don't tell me it should be AMJ. Anyway, it's climatological data from the Julian-calendar era in the instance of this initialism that instigated this glossary entry. At the time, Spring sprang sooner (eleven days sooner by 1600). Cf. DJF, JJA, SON.

Mathematics Awareness Month. April, presumably because that's the cruelest month. MAM, ma'am, is sponsored by the American Mathematical Society, the American Statistical Association, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

Step-mother. Technically, this is Japanese, but it sort of works in a lot of European languages. In the Japanese, haha is `mother' and mama- is `step-.' Stepfather is mama-chichi (stop giggling or I'll tell your mother!) and stepchild is mamako (see -ko for more on the last syllable). Incidentally, the hyphens are just guides to the Anglophone eye. (There's a concept.) In Japanese, hyphenated words don't have hyphens (haifun) in them. How weird is that? Japanese doesn't use word spacing either, butforyourconveniencewegenerallydo.

The common European word mama is now recognized world-wide, even where no European language is a common first language. For example, it occurs in kyoiku-mama.

Mama seems to naturalize well. A woman who spoke mainly Yoruba growing up in Nigeria wasn't sure if the word was Yoruba or not. (It isn't.) I was asking around because Roman Jakobson claimed something like that the word for mother in all languages contains a nasal consonant. This is a trickier claim than it at first seems, because many languages have multiple words for mother, but it's easy to find counter-examples. I think Georgian is one.

Multicultural Association of Medical Interpreters of Central New York. ``MAMI has established a fee-for-service, not-for-profit language bank (agency) in Utica, N.Y. It offers professional interpreting services and translation of health-related documents to Oneida and Herkimer counties and, eventually, all of Central New York.'' I suspect that the name Al Jolson doesn't ring a bell with these people.

Literally `mother tongue' in Yiddish. `Yiddish' in Yiddish.

MANual. As in Unix ``man pages.''

Metropolitan Area Network. A Local Area Network (LAN) serving a range over 100 miles.

meiner Ansicht nach. German, `in my opinion' [IMO]. German has two postpositions, nach and weder, that function like prepositions but happen to follow their objects. Do not confuse the expansion of m.A.n. with that of m.M.n., which means about the same thing, or you'll end up with something like meiner Ahnung nach, which means `according to my intuition.'

Mid-Atlantic Nanotechnology Alliance.

The identification, specification, allocation, and coordination of tasks that will not be done.


man bites dog
This is a traditional definition-by-example of what news is: a report of an unusual event. A usual event (dog bites man) is not news. (It's human interest, and can be reported only if it helps the reporter score a political point.)

Most instances of the phrase ``dog bites man'' that occur in new reports are metaphorical. Nevertheless, the literal event does occur fairly regularly. One very common situation is that of criminal fugitives biting police dogs. The second-most common situation seems to be that of pet owners counter-attacking dogs that attack their own dogs -- dog's best friend 'n'all that. (For another sort of canine anthropomorphic dog fight, see the It was a dark and stormy night entry.) We'll be collecting examples of canine man-bites (whether they involve criminal fugitives or not) and listing them here:

Man may also bite dog that is already dead and probably cooked. Back in 2002, the World Cup was held in South Korea and there was a flurry of reporting about dogs as food there. Of course, that wasn't news at all. The South Koreans just need to work out a mutually beneficial agreement with the Australians (see dogger).

Michael Vick was a talented quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons until just before the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Unbeknownst to him, treacherous family and friends had been running a dog-fighting operation on his property. As a non-participant, his pseudonym was Ron Mexico. A Finnish fan of US football, it appears, has ransacked the gazetteer to offer a web-based ``Ron Mexico name generator'' here. He must have the right algorithm: it satisfies the only known condition. Oh wait-- I'm sorry, that was his alias in the genital herpes thing a few years before. After the court papers were filed, there was a brief vogue in sports gear bearing the name. There was even a poor fellow in Brighton, Michigan, an auto-parts supplier, who comes by the name legitimately. He was ``getting a ton of calls.'' He wanted to know, ``How do you pull a name like that out of the air? Use Bob Smith or Jim Johnson; there's 50 million of them. Out of all the names in the whole world, I wanna know how he picked this name out.'' It reminds me of Tonya Harding's ex. This Ron Mexico knows two others -- relatives of his. You can see where this is going: ``To Tell The Truth,'' 2022. The rollicking panel of washed-up celebrities will consist of Sean Penn, Christina Aguilera, Ben Affleck, and Kitty Carlisle, somehow.

Anyway, Michael Vick is not alleged to have bitten any of the dogs or given them genital herpes, but he's supposed to have killed some of them in unnecessarily creative ways. (I didn't even know you could kill a dog by hanging. Not very quickly, anyway....) On August 27, Vick took a plea bargain and reported a Jesus sighting. (He claimed he found Jesus, but I'm not sure Jesus had been reported missing. I heard he was expected back.) The reason the story merits discussion in this entry, besides the general association with dogs, news, and violence, is the chew-toy angle. By the time of Vick's plea, there was a ``Vick's Dog Chew Toy'' available online for $10.99 plus $2 S&H, ``made of state of the art `dog' material'' whatever that is. Melamine-laced and lead-base-painted, I imagine. With so little time to set up the tooling, shipping wasn't scheduled to begin until September 7, 2007.

The situation of a man biting a dog is a paradigm of the unexpected, but it has not always been used to define news. Relevant evidence was posted on the Curculio blog, which had an anonymous ancient Greek couplet on April 20, 2006. (You remember, of course, that Cerberus is a three-headed dog.) In translation: ``Even as a corpse Timon is savage: Cerberus, door-keeper of Pluto, be afraid lest he bite you.''

Coming soon (okay: eventually) to a glossary entry near you: Irving Berlin had a song entitled ``Man Bites Dog'' in the 1933 topical revue ``As Thousands Cheer.''

Multiple ANalysis of COVAriance (ANCOVA). MANCOVA is a combination of linear regression and multiple analysis of variance (MANOVA) in which the MANOVA is adjusted for the linear relationships between the dependent variables and the covariates. See, for example, M. J. Norusis, SPSS for Windows: Advanced Statistics, Release 6.0. (Chicago, IL: SPSS, 1993).

Not just an acronym; this would make a pretty decent family name.

Mandate of Heaven
A Chinese imperial doctrine that in late twentieth and early twenty-first century Florida and Texas governs the like-unto-a-god status of football coaches. If a coach use his power wisely and send in just plays, then his victories demonstrate that his benevolent but firm rule is righteous. If he have a losing season, then it demonstrates that he has lost the mandate of heaven, and may be ignominiously tossed out on his ear, or disemboweled, as the mob choose.

Similar Confusion philosophies are followed in the other seven states of the Southeastern Conference (Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina).

John Cole, head of the TFT, explains that in Texas, a school principal ``used to be anybody with a master's degree and two losing seasons.'' [Reported by Peter Schrag in ``Too Good to be True,'' an article on TAAS in The American Prospect vol. 11, #4 (Jan. 3, 2000).]

A Spanish word that means `to handle' in Spain. In Latin America, the word is used in the sense of `to drive [a vehicle]' (or to know how to). Cf. maniobra, discussed at the maneuver entry.

Also spelled manoeuvre (``chiefly Brit.,'' as we lexicographers say). I assume you know what this word means. My feeling is that if you have to turn the steering wheel or your shoulders one way and then another, then that's a maneuver, but only one way is just a turn.

Spanish has the noun maniobra and verb maniobrar, with meanings similar to the English cognate. Cf. manejar.

Mathematical Analyzer, Numerical Integrator, And Computer. An early (late 40's) computer at Los Alamos.

Mid- And Near-Infrared Array Camera.

mano a mano
Spanish: `hand-to-hand.' As in combat. NOT `man-to-man' with Spanisho lettero o-o. Sheesh!

Okay, okay: it does so happen that the English word man and the Spanish word mano (< Latin manus) are derived from the same Indoeuropean (IE) root *man- that has the meanings `person' and `hand.' One might regard this as an instance of synecdoche (hand representing man), but from the available linguistic evidence it is impossible to tell which, if either, meaning came first.

In fact, ``mano a mano'' can express, in a figurative way, a range of meanings like `on an equal footing,' some of which overlap the sense of `man-to-man.' There are lots of other such expressions. For example, mano en mano, literally `hand in hand,' means that or `pari passu'; de mano en mano means `from hand to hand' (literally `from hand into hand').

The Latin word manus is not, as one might suppose at first glance, a second-declension masculine noun. It's a fourth-declension feminine noun. Hence the Spanish word mano (like French main, etc.) is feminine.

Spanish word meaning `laborer' (obrador) or day-laborer (peón). More about manobra at the manobre entry. Right now I want to write about something different: the front-loading of the Spanish alphabet.

El Diccionario del Español Actual (edd. Manuel Seco, Olimpia Andrés, Gabino Ramos), publ. 1999, is a good, representative Spanish dictionary. It has two volumes: A-F and G-Z. The two volumes are similar in size, and there isn't very much front matter. The disproportionate share of words starting with early letters of the alphabet is typical. (Not that it wouldn't be very suspicious if it weren't.) In contrast, the xx-volume OED2 has a volume xi that begins with the Scrabble-worthy word ow, whatever that means. For my own amusement (you should skip over this to the next entry), I'm going to list the number of pages dedicated to words starting in different letters of the alphabet in the Spanish dictionary mentioned above (this one alphabetizes ll between lk and lm, etc.):

A   559
B   201
C   632
D   299
E   409
F   174

G   146
H   120
I   174
J    41
K     8
L   131
M   295
N    63
Ñ     2
O    81
P   425
Q    23
R   212
S   232
T   217
U    24
V   107
W     3
X     2
Y    19
Z    21

What the Spanish language needs is an exchange program with Polish.

Spanish word synonymous with manobra, `laborer.' The word (in both forms) is grammatically male. One can think of this as natural gender when the word originated, and conventional gender now. Of course, Spanish nouns ending in a are generally female. While there are exceptions, these often have Greek roots (e.g.: el tema, `the theme'; el siquiatra, `the [male] psychiatrist') rather than obviously Latin roots like obra and mano (see mano a mano). So the switch in ending is natural: either those hearing the word for the first time were led to suppose the word ended in e, or people familiar with the -a form felt uncomfortable enough with the final -a to use -e instead.

Yes, there are interesting questions here of what to do about conflicts of natural and grammatical gender, but this here is (a tangent to)n what I started writing about, where n is four or five, so that'll have to wait. I'd also like to mention manubrio, but I can't think what to say about it.

mano de obra
Spanish word meaning `manpower' or a restricted sense of the word `labor.' That is, the labor force (fuerza obrera) represents available manpower (mano de obra), and a finished product represents a certain amount of labor performed (also mano de obra). The French etymon main-d'œuvre, attested as early as the end of the seventeenth century, is used in the same way. An interesting oddity about these phrases is that they literally seem to mean something like `hand of labor.' A better translation might be `labor hand' (like ``farm hand'').

All these thoughts on hands in some genetic relationship to labor remind me ``of horny-handed sons of toil.'' No, the first of doesn't belong inside the quotation marks, but it makes a nice iambic tetrameter. The phrase sounds like something Carl Sandburg would have made up, but the idea that the working poor (anachronistic-term alert!) have calloused hands is certainly at least ancient and probably prehistoric. Here's an example from Trimalchio's first speech (ch. 39 of the Satyricon of Petronius). He prates that those born under the sign of Capricorn (capricornus means `goat horn') are ``wretches who grow hard facing their troubles'' (the Latin is ...in capricorno aerumnosi, quibus prae mala sua cornua nascuntur...). No, it's not a literal translation. There's too much going on to translate it all, and what goes on in English is different.

For one thing aeromnosus, which I translate as `wretch,' is derived from aerumna which is, loosely, a `burden' -- that is, a `task' or a `trouble.' Hence the connection with ``sons of toil.'' Also, prae basically means `before,' but is often understood to mean `in view of' or almost `as a result of.' I like to preserve the spatial idea of before-ness, which is why I use `facing,' which tucks a little bit of meaning into the translation that doesn't belong, in order to include something that does belong but that otherwise wouldn't be there. For a somewhat similar instance of the concrete notion of ``facing'' having different abstract, uh, facets, see the anti- entry.

Finally, you will observe that cornu means `horn' or `horny tissue.' (The coincidence of meanings makes me think of that roughly funnel-shaped neutronium thing in one of the ST:TOS episodes.) That Latin word is, in fact, the origin of the English word corn, but only in the sense of a local hardening, horniness, of the skin; other meanings represent other etymologies that happened to yield the same sound and spelling. Corn in the sense of grain is a cognate of Latin granus, with a common root in Indo-European (you know, it's the voicing/devoicing g/c thing). The word grain itself, of course, comes from Latin. English, as you will recall, is the vocable pack-rat of languages. Just as a common Indo-European root gave rise to both corn (via Germanic) and grain (via Latin), so a common IE root gave rise to horn (via Germanic) and corn (via Latin). [I'm making this a little more complicated than necessary in order to keep your interest up. Since you've staggered through my clotted prose so far, you can tell it's working.] All I need to do now is mention another pair of cognates, and I can pop a level of tangent discussion off the stack. The English verb harvest is cognate (again through a common IE root) with the Latin verb carpere (h/c again, like horn and corn, see?). Both contain the idea of `pluck, take for advantage.' (You know the verb carpere from the common expression ``Carpe diem,'' usually translated `seize the day.')

Trimalchio makes a pun on the word Carpe (in ch. 37), explaining that when he says Carpe, it is both vocative and imperative. (Carpus is the name of one of his servants.) Considering Molière's bourgeois gentilhomme, it seems that celebration of grammar, is a time-honored element in the stereotype of the low-born success.

I really don't know if there is any connection between Petronius and the HHSOT expression. Time to pop the stack again. ``Sons of toil'' (cf. hidalgo) occurs in English literature from the eighteenth century on, and seems to have had some kind of vogue among nineteenth-century poets. An interesting collocation occurs in Egbert Martin's ``Dawning,'' written in the 1870's or thereabouts. The second verse runs thus:

The horny sons of toil arise,
And labour's hammer rings
In honest music to the skies,
Like harps with iron strings.
While hoarse the shout of industry
Rolls like a billow from the sea.

Ballad meter. Anyway, ``horny sons of toil arise'' today suggests a rather different image than Martin probably had in mind. Then again, the OED has an instance of horny in the sense of concupiscent dating back as early as 1889, and this seems the sort of slang word that might be in circulation a long time before it happened into the literary record. One is reminded of the dialogue in Rock Hudson movies, when we see them again, now that we all know. Of course, some people never didn't get the jokes. Especially delicious is ``Pillow Talk'' (1959), in which the Rock Hudson character pretends to be gay in order to seduce the Doris Day character. At one point Tony Randall, playing the rival, gets to utter ``Need a light, cowboy?'' Mark Rappaport took an hour of these clips, spliced in unnecessary commentary mouthed by Rock look-alike Eric Farr, and released it in 1992 as ``Rock Hudson's Home Movies.''

Incidentally, earlier in that chapter of Satyricon, Trimalchio says ``May the bones of my patron [former master] rest well; he wanted me to be a man among men.'' (Patrono meo ossa bene quiescant, qui me hominem inter homines voluit esse.) Time to visit the mano a mano entry. (I mention this only for the benefit of those few who are not reading serially through all the entries.)

Standard British and widespread Commonwealth spelling of what is spelled maneuver in American English.

Multivariate ANalysis Of VAriance (ANOVA). Also Multiple, Multi-way and Multi-factor ANOVA.

MAN-Portable Air-Defense System. Soviet-made, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

A kind of roof with a break in slope on each side, so it is steeper towards the eaves, and convex in cross section. The break in slope occurs on all sides--there are no gables (this general situation is called a hip roof); in the simplest such roof, for a rectangular building, the edges where the slopes of the roof faces change form a rectangle. The kind with gables on the end (a `double-sloped' roof) is called gambrel. You needed to know this. Nathaniel Hawthorn wrote The House of the Seven Gables. Mansard seems to be more popular in Europe than in the US, where gambrel roofs are most common on barns. Gambrel and mansard roofs are both called curb roofs.

Oh man, look gambrel up at the AAT. Talk about making a federal case of it!

manual transmission
gives you something to do while you're driving. The devil finds cell phones for idle hands.

Here's a related proverb, recorded in Vermont Is Where You Find It: One of the best things about quiltin' is that it gives the womenfolks somthing to think about while they talk.

Uh-oh... the PC-police lookout gave the signal. Time for some quick gender-generic repair.

Also recorded in that old book is the following hypothetical exchange:

Pg. 88: What do you do up here in the winter when the road's blocked?
Pg. 90: We just set and think ... mostly set.

Page 89, like almost all the odd pages, is given over to a picture. I've quoted pretty much all the text on pp. 88 and 90. In 1941 it seems to have been easier to ``write'' a book. About the text the ``author'' wrote ``Most of these stories and sayings I heard in Vermont, but that's no sign I wouldn't have heard them anywhere else in America.'' Or, say, France. (Even Orsay, France!) See the I dunno entry for more yokel communication studies.

Oh, if you wanted to learn something about manual transmission, or ``standard transmission'' as it is still often called, with some justification, you should have gone to the stick-shift entry.


The fractional (``decimal'') part of the logarithm of a number. From the Latin word (spelled with one ess) meaning make-weight, which is believed to be of Etruscan origin (the word, you nitwit, not the make-weight!).

Spanish, `handlebar.' If you just stumbled on this entry by accident, you've missed all the fun. Quick! Before the party is over, bop on over to the mano de obra entry.

[Football icon]

Man Under
A defensive football coverage in which the UNDERneath defenders are in MAN-to-man coverage. Further explanation at the Cover-2 entry.

A highly symmetric cyclic compound, bicyclo [3.3.3] undecane. It can be thought of as three n-propanes (three chains of three carbons in a row) plus two ``bridge'' carbons. Each propane has one end bonded to each of the two bridges. Altogether, then, an eleven-carbon alkane (undecane) comprising cyclo-octane rings. [One traverses a cycle of eight carbons by completing a circuit from one bridge carbon, through one propane (three carbons) to the other bridge carbon, and back to the first bridge carbon along one of the other three-carbon chains.] Unlike most molecules containing monocyclic eight-membered rings, this structure is not floppy. Its stable configuration has either exact or almost-exact C3h symmetry about the 1 and 5 carbons (the bridge carbons, each bonded to one end of each of the three propane chains). That is, the line through the two bridge carbons is a three-fold axis, and each propane chain is a rigid copy of its neighbors, translated a third of a turn about this 1-5 axis and rigidly rotated by the same angle in the same direction.

The two end carbons of each propane are aligned parallel to the axis, so that when the molecule is viewed end-on, the four bonds and three atoms of each propane chain appear as a bent leg viewed from the side -- the end carbons overlapping in one knee, with the middle carbon at the foot. Viewed in this way, the molecule as a whole has the form of a triskelion. The crest of the Isle of Man (traditional adjective form Manx, of course) is a triskelion. As far as I can tell, the trivial name manxane first appears in the chemical literature in a 1980 journal article by P. Murray-Rust, J. Murray-Rust, and C.I.F. Watt: ``The Crystal Structure of Bicyclo [3.3.3] undecane-1,5-diol and the Conformation of Bicyclo [3.3.3] undecane (Manxane).'' Their article concludes: ``We would like to dedicate this structure to the memory of the late Professor William Parker who first synthesised and named the manxane system.''

The 1980 article by the Murray-Rusts and C.I.F. Watt has an illustration of the Manx crest, though in the nonstandard orientation. All early representations of the three legs of Man shows them running (i.e., toes and knees pointing) clockwise, and this is how they still appear on the Manx flag and other official emblems. A distinctive feature of the Manx triskelion is that the legs are wearing armor -- at least the legs and feet are plated, and the heels have six-pointed spurs. (A triskelion of greater antiquity is that of Sicily. Its legs are naked and it has a Medusa's head at the center. See also AWB.) The Coat of Arms (technically Arms of HM in right of the Isle of Man) includes the three legs, which is an interesting thought. The Manx motto, associated with the island since about 1300, is ``Quocunque Jeceris Stabit,'' or `wherever you throw it, it will stand.' Like a three-legged stool, I suppose. It was reportedly in use before this date by the MacLeods of Lewis, ancient Lords of the Isles of Scotland. After 1266, these included the Isle of Man.

MonoAmine Oxidase. An enzyme that breaks down monoamines by oxidation. The monoamines referred to are typically the amines that function as neurotransmitters.

MonoAmine Oxidase Inhibitor. A drug like iproniazid, that decreases the effectiveness of MAO and thus delays uptake of neurotransmitter amines. A class of antidepressants.


Maintenance Analysis Procedure.

Maximum a posteriori (likelihood).

Media Access Project. ``A non-profit public interest telecommunications law firm.''

MethAmPhetamine. Yeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeah!

Microwave Anisotropy Probe. Scheduled for launch August 2000. Will eventually sit on a Lagrange point and collect data for over a year.

Mississippi Association of Physicists. It's the Mississippi Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), rather than a state section of the American Physical Society APS. This discovery sort of dovetails with the difficulty I've had finding interesting crossword puzzle fills involving Mississippi. Maybe it's just as well: ``Mississippi'' itself is already eleven letters.

Modo Asiático de Producción. Spanish, `Asian mode of production.' In some future expansion of the glossary, we may have an English acronym for this term. Don't hold your breath. I seem to come across a lot more Marxist literature in Spanish than in English.

Karl Marx introduced the theory that there is a distinctive ... gee, it looks like I'm going to want an acronym in English. Let's use AMP, provisionally. During the 1850's, in a series of articles for the New York Daily Tribune on British activity and politics in India, Marx introduced the theory of AMP. Okay, enough of that.

Morning-After Pill. ``Plan B.'' Extremely early-term abortion or contraception after the fact, depending on your POV.

Spanish, `map.'

Mexican-American Political Association.

Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan. Begun as MACTP, continued as UNMCP. The current name is the first that is explicit about the focus of activities.

Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Probably the one around Boston.

Multipotent Adult Progenitor Cell. Pronounced ``map-sea.'' Something like adult stem cells with the protean character of embryonic stem cells. Whether The term was coined for cells extracted from bone marrow and ``meticulously cultured'' (I haven't seen the original articles). It's not clear whether these cells existed in the marrow or arose in response to the culture conditions.

Management Application Protocol Data Unit.

Messaging Application Programming Interface. Not just any one, but Microsoft's standard, though hardly the sort of name that would yield a strong trademark (vide TM). MAPI governs how communications applications exchange data. To install and work with MAPI-compliant applications, the Windows user must first have set up Microsoft Messaging, a standard Windows component.

Midwest (US) Association of Pre-Law Advisors. Sounds uncomfortably similar to NAPLA. It probably takes longer to say ``MAPLA -- that's em as in Midwest, ay, pee as in Peter, el, ay'' than to just say the name. They might've called it MWAPLA. For other US regional pre-law advising organizations, see the list at SWAPLA.

``The MAPLA caravan brings law school admissions representatives to midwestern colleges and universities each fall. For undergraduates unable to attend the Law School Forum in Chicago, this is, for most, the only opportunity for them to meet admissions reps face-to-face.''

Russian, `little, few.'

There used to be a series of ads for a children's breakfast drink called Ovaltine, in which a child pleads ``more Ovaltine, Mom ... please.'' It does lack some of the poignancy of Dickens's gruel-starved young Oliver. (``Please, sir, I want some more.'') But still -- there's a mnemonic for ya.

I should probably explain why this is a mnemonic. This Ovaltine ad ran in the 1960's, and it seemed to me like a palinode for an earlier ad. In the earlier ad, naughty little Marky refuses to eat his breakfast cereal, so his dad starts to eat it with ostentatious delight, whereupon the child cries petulantly ``I want my Maypo!'' This Maypo ad debuted on television in September 1956. It has its own golden page at the online Breakfast Cereal Hall of Fame.

Of course, the Russian word transliterated mapo has a short a where Maypo has a long. But when we've got a great mnemonic like this, we dare not ask for more, now, do we?

Can be found on the web. They are also available from the census bureau.

The Bodleian Library at Oxford University has a map room.

Customize your own at Mapquest or Yahoo.

The Interactive UB Campus Map gives phone-book-quality maps for UB's two campuses. Detailed (room-level) campus maps for UB can be found at the Facilities Planning and Design site.

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. With stress on the for.

Multi-State Atmospheric Power Production Pollution Study, sponsored by U.S. Department of Energy.

Middle American Radical. The term gained temporary currency from Donald I. Warren's book The Radical Center: Middle Americans and the Politics of Alienation (U. Notre Dame Pr., 1976), who used it to describe a segment of the middle class. According to footnote 3 there, ``[t]he acronym MAR first appeared in an article in Nation magazine of August 17, 1974, entitled ``The Middle American Radical.''

It's not clear that the term MAR meant anything but what was then designated a (middle-income) conservative. On page 21, the essence of the MAR ideology was epitomized by the statement ``[t]he rich give in to the poor, and the middle income people have to pay the bill.'' Sometimes the MAR is described as a social conservative with liberal or even radical economic positions, but those positions (pro-Medicare, pro-Social-Security, etc.) were liberal in the 1940's. In the 1970's, US President Nixon was economically far to the left of anything we saw in the last fifth of the twentieth century.

To the extent that the so-called radical centrist attitude or resentment described above persisted through the economic expansion of 1983-1989, it seems to have been significantly reduced by welfare reform in the 1990's. Then again, maybe the economic expansion of the 1990's had something to do with it.

The term MAR never caught on, which is why you're reading about it here.

One exception was Samuel Francis, a columnist for the conservative magazine Chronicles, who used the term essentially for an America-Firster -- a social conservative like Patrick Buchanan, supporting isolationism, closure of immigration, autarky (if it can be implemented painlessly), and other actions intended to preserve a traditional cultural identity, etc. He published a collection of his columns as Revolution from the Middle. It appears to be the only or first publication of Middle American Press of Raleigh, NC.

You can find a favorable review of the Francis book here, courtesy of Ulster Nation, an organization advocating a ``third way for Ulster.'' This third way, as opposed to unification with the Republic of Ireland, or remaining a part of the United Kingdom, is independence. This political position, like every political third way, has at least the initially plausible appearance of not falling squarely within one of the two major pre-existing positions. However, as I need hardly remind you, ``Ulster'' and to a lesser degree ``Northern Ireland'' are shibboleths. The two positions that can command a committed following are the Republican (now usually called nationalist) and unionist positions. However, the desire of unionists is not the preservation of control by Crown appointees; it is home rule dominated by the Protestant majority and making less allowance for minority (i.e., Catholic) rights or preferences. (The precise sense of a word like ``less'' in the preceding sentence, and the question of how much falls in the two categories ``rights'' and ``preferences,'' are matters on which agreement does not appear likely during the lifetime of the author of this glossary.) The difference between the unionist position and the Ulster Nationalist position is really one of means rather than ends, or else a difference of degree of independence. These comments are off the top of my head and probably completely fatuous.

In ``The Radical Center or the Moderate Middle?,'' New York Times Magazine (December 3, 1995), Michael Lind even credited Donald Warren ('member DIW? source of the MAR term?) with coining the term ``radical center.'' (See excerpt here.) Michael Lind and his wife are famous for the landmark study Middletown, USA.

Spanish word meaning `sea.'

This word is derived from the Latin word mare, a neuter third-declension noun. In the transition to Romance, the gender system of Latin went from three to two genders and neuter nouns generally became male. That did not quite happen in this case. Unusually for a Spanish noun, this word can take both genders. Generally, mar is masculine to landlubbers and feminine entre marinos (`among mariners'). In addition, some figurative and sort-of technical expressions construe mar as female, presumably owing to their originating or being popular with seamen. For more on gender in Spanish nouns, see the D-ION-Z-A entry.

There's a bit more to say about mare, since it wasn't an entirely ordinary third-declension. It was an i-stem, meaning that the genitive plural ended in -ium rather than -um, that an ablative singular form mari could be used (alternative to the consonantal-stem-like mare), and that the accusative forms could be different as well. It seems to me that the unusual morphology might have contributed to confusion that allowed mariners to select a preferred gender on a more intuitionistic basis. FWIW, another neuter third declension i-stem is animal, which followed the general rule and became male in Spanish. The form of the noun that came to be used in Spanish, which does not inflect nouns according to case, most commonly resembles the Latin ablative (sing.) form. As animal and mulier (`woman,' Spanish mujer) illustrate, however, loss of a final unstressed vowel was not unusual.

One of the differences between English and Spanish is the relative abundance of different roots and substantially different words in English. Words related to mar illustrate this nicely:

              Spanish               English
              =======               =======
              mar                   sea
              marea                 tide
              mareado               sea-sick
              mareado               dizzy
              marina                marina
              marinero              sailor
              marino                seaman, mariner
              marino                marine
              maritimo              maritime

MAchine-Readable Cataloging.

MAryland Rail Commuter. Runs between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD. Cf. VRE, WMATA.

Multiple-Access Relay Channel.

A liverwort, not a country. As such, it does not have a TLA.

German neuter noun meaning `fairy tale.' Like most nouns (of course I mean like most German nouns -- must I repeat myself?) ending in -er, -el, or -en, it is first-declension. Since there's nothing left to umlaut, the non-dative plural form is identical with the singular.

marching method
In numerical analysis, ``marching methods'' are the generalization to higher dimensions of the `shooting methods' used in one-dimensional equations.

Nope. Forget it. It'll do you no good to look up the `shooting methods' entry because I don't explain that either. Bite the bullet and read a textbook.

Microelectronics Advanced Research Corporation.

Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterrey. `Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey,' Mexico.

Spanish and Italian proper noun that translates `Mark.'

  1. noun meaning `picture frame,'
  2. verb meaning `I mark.'

MARketing COMmunications. A popular term with marketing types. I'm not sure what part of marketing it doesn't include.

Mid-Atlantic Radical Historians' Organization. The MARHO Newsletter, first published in 1973, morphed into a scholarly (so I'm told) journal called the Radical History Review in 1977. (Related stuff at the SftP entry.)

MArs RadIation Environment (Experiment). One of three primary measuring instruments on the Mars Odyssey, a NASA probe that was launched on April 7, 2001, and went into Mars orbit on October 24, 2001. The other two instruments are a thermal emission imaging system (THEMIS) and a gamma ray spectrometer (GRS).

marine animals
Go fish!

marital fellowship
The head term is most commonly used as an uncountable compound noun, corresponding to the uncountable sense of fellowship. You can look that up anywhere. Here I just want to note the existence of a countable sense, arising from a jocular collocation of marital with fellowship understood in the countable sense similar to (countable) scholarship. Cf. PM scholarship.

Medieval term for two-thirds of a pound -- i.e., 13 shillings and four pence (13s4d, or 13/4). It was once issued as a Scottish silver coin called the merk. It ended up as the basic monetary unit (until 2002) in Finland (markka in de nominative declension, singular, I dink) and in Germany. In German, the word is capitalized like all nouns. (The word Mark is by far the most common feminine German noun whose plural form is identical with the singular form. If there is any other instance, it's probably some oddball borrowing from an ancient language. No, I don't have a particular example in mind.)

An advantage of marks over pounds is that they can be halved an extra time: a pound is 16 times 1/3 (1s3d). A mark is 32 times 5 pence. You could divide up evenly 128 ways with farthings, but it begins to look like there are too many fingers in the pie.

market cap
  1. MARKET CAPitalization. Total value of outstanding shares.
  2. Headgear for supermarket safaris.

Markovnikov's Rule
A rule for determining the dominant product in the addition of a hydrogen halide to an alkene. According to the rule, when the double bond is broken, the carbon with the most hydrogens gets another hydrogen, and the halide bonds to the other carbon. Sounds like the Matthew Principle.

Markovnikov is now the most common transliteration to English. Other variants include Markovnikoff, Markownikoff, Markownikov.

Mark Twain
Pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910). So far, he is quoted or at least mentioned at the entries for classic, extrapolation, hight (sic), ISI, Mark Twain, Mars, nonlinearity, optics, VLIW, V2, WJ, and YA.

Manitoba Association of Registered Nurses. The organization has changed its name (see CRNM) but MARN is still used.

married cable
Paired, but not twisted: parallel conductors separately insulated in plastic that holds the two together.

Cf. C.U.

The fourth planet. Here's a surprising thing: the orbit of Mars is much more eccentric than that of the Earth. Aphelion is about 1.67 a.u., and perihelion at 1.38 a.u. This means that the Earth-to-Mars distance varies by a factor of seven.

There was an unusually favorable opposition of Mars in 1877. That year, a few days before the closest approach to Earth, Asaph Hall discovered the two moons of Mars, which he named Deimos and Phobos.

Also in 1877, the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli observed some lines on the surface of Mars that he described as canali. That word may be translated to English as `channels,' which may be natural, or `canals,' which normally are not. In English, his discovery was typically (one may regard it as a faux ami) translated as `canals.' (See also the open channel entry.)

BTW, Schiaparelli was born and died in same years as Samuel Clemens: 1835 and 1910. The latter wrote in his Autobiography,

I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year [viz., 1910], and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ``Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.''

(For a similar idea, less intentionally amusing, see BRAINIAC.) William Sheehan's The Planet Mars: A History of Observation and Discovery was published by the University of Arizona Press in 1996. The entire book is available to read free on-line.

Machine-Assisted Reference Service. A library automation system from the days before we were cyborgs.

Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines.

Mid-Atlantic Region Society of Quality Assurance. It's ``a recognized chapter of the national Society of Quality Assurance (SQA).''

Metropolitan Atlanta (GA) Rapid Transit Authority. Once upon a time (1978, anyway) MARTA buses were very clean (which was difficult, because they were painted white). MARTA also runs trains.

The feast (and day of the MASs) of Saint MARTIN. November 11. WWI ended that day in 1918 (on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month). In the US, it became a legal (federal) holiday in 1938, under the name of Armistice Day. Kristallnacht, a night of riots, murder of Jews, and arson and looting of synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses throughout the Third Reich, began the evening of November 9, 1938. (It was originally planned to last two nights and end on the 11th.) On November 10, 1938, Enrico Fermi received the call from Stockholm announcing that he had won the Nobel Prize in Physics for that year. The timing was convenient, since with the imposition of anti-Semitic laws in Italy that autumn, the Fermis had decided to emigrate to the US (Enrico's wife Laura was Jewish). The Fermis sailed on from Sweden to the US (officially for a six-month stay), avoiding certain currency restrictions imposed by Italy. Good fascists everywhere were incensed that he shook the hand of the Swedish king, instead of extending his arm in the fascist salute. Newspapers published stupid political cartoons about how he must have injured his arm or something.

The Fermis boarded the ``Franconia'' bound for their new home on December 24, 1938. Laura wrote about this in Atoms in the Family. Exploring the ship with their children Nella and Giulio, they ``... called an elevator. As its doors swung open, we were face to face with a short old man in a baggy red suit and furry white trimmings, with a long white beard and twinkling blue eyes. The three of us stood still, fascinated, open-mouthed. The queer old man motioned us inside the elevator and then, with a benevolent smile, said to us: `Don't you know me? I am Santa Claus.' ''

Later, when she explained about Santa Claus to her children (``He does not ride a broomstick but a sleigh ...'' etc.) they wanted to know

``Will the Epiphany come to us all the same? She knows we are Italian children. ...''

``No, she will not. She could not get a visa and must remain in Italy,'' I answered on the inspiration of the moment.

``Poor Epiphany,'' Nella said wistfully, ``I don't think she likes Mussolini too well.''

When their ship arrived in New York, Enrico ceremoniously declared the establishment of the ``American branch'' of the Fermi family.

In the year of 1942, announcing the success of Fermi's reactor (in guarded language over a telephone) Arthur Holly Compton told James Bryant Conant, ``Jim, you'll be interested to know that the Italian navigator has just landed in the new world.''

Since AHC had previously indicated that completion of the pile was further away, he added, ``the earth was not as large as he had estimated, and he arrived at the new world sooner than he had expected.''

Columbus, on the other hand, underestimated the size of the earth, and it was partly for this reason that he supposed he could reach the Indies quickly by the Atlantic route. (He also figured he could take advantage of favorable winds off the West coast of Africa, but he couldn't admit this because an international convention between Portugal and Spain officially forbade him to sail that far South.) In 1492, Spain expelled all Jews living within its borders. (Actually, they also had the option of converting and coming under suspicion of judaizing and being tortured, confessed and executed by the Inquisition.) Columbus sailed from Spain on the last day for Jews to get out.

Columbus Day is celebrated (or observed, by those who object) on the second Monday in October. Traditionally, Columbus Day was celebrated on October 12, the day land was first sighted (the first recorded Columbus Day celebration in the US took place on the 300th anniversary of the day).

In 1954, the name of Armistice Day was changed to Veterans' Day.

MAneuverable Reentry Vehicle. The ``vehicle'' carries the missile payload. Cf. AMARV.

Marx Brothers
There really were five (5) originally:

Chico	(1891-1961)
(Leonard)	Shtick was piano.  Chico pronounced ``chick-oh,''
in reference to his hobby, or ``pursuit.''

Harpo	(1893-1964)
(Adolph)	Mute.  Most unbegrudged guest at the Algonquin Round Table.
Some links: 1 2 3

Gummo	(1894-1978)
(Milton)	Left the vaudeville act in 1915 because he stuttered  (so
		why couldn't he have had the mute role?).

Groucho	(1895-1977)
(Julius Henry)	Mr. Nice Guy.

Zeppo	(1901)
(Herbert)	A juvenile delinquent.  After the Four Marx Brothers act
		became the three, he eventually found more suitable work
		as an agent.

(One or more of the birth years listed above may be five years late.)

Visit the unofficial ``The Marx Brothers Page'' for more enlightenment.

Marx on matter
Translated by H. P. Adams from Karl Marx's Ph.D. dissertation, in Karl Marx: in his earlier writings (Geo. Allen and Unwin, London, 1940):
For it is in its center of gravity that matter possesses its ideal individuality....So that if atoms are placed in the perceptible world they must have weight.

No neutrino-mass predictions.

Marx died on March 14, 1883, the fourth birthday of Albert Einstein, who eventually had interesting things to say about matter, mass, and energy.

Pronounced ``emery.'' The same as n-ary, but for an integer M, probably an upper bound of some sort. What, there's another ``Mary''?

Master of Arts in American Studies. That's the abbreviation used at University of Heidelberg, anyway (see HCA).

Microbeam Analysis Society.

Movimiento al Socialismo. A Bolivian political party headed by Evo Morales, leader of the country's coca producers. (It's legal to grow coca in Bolivia. On the basis of my family's experience surviving in Bolivia, however, I would caution that legality there is a kind of interesting technicality.) Evo Morales was elected president in December 2005.

Spanish conjunction equivalent to `but.' Equivalent to French mais and Italian ma, but not much used. The much more common word is pero. I found that using ma in this sense was one of the tougher things to get used to in Italian (for me as a Spanish-speaker); fortunately, Italian has the equivalent però if you want to use it.

Spanish for `more.'

Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology. Not much now (November 2002) at their particular website. They're part of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (UPM). Try there.

Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Preceded the laser, but not as telegenic since microwaves are invisible.

Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Robert Hooker wrote a novel by that title, and Ring Lardner, Jr., wrote a screenplay out of it. The movie (1970) was directed by Robert Altman and starred Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, and other people you've heard of.

A way of writing MASH that suggests that no more graceful form of font-based emphasis is available. This form appears on at least a couple of different box covers for videos of the movie. IMDb gives ``M*A*S*H Gives A D*A*M*N'' as the movie's tagline, but otherwise seems to support the view that the asterisked form is the name of the TV sequel. That seems to be a widely held view. Of course, some other widely held views are that the TV show was amusing and not by turns treacly and insipid, so you can take that for what it's worth.

Without citing a source, this webpage claims that the asterisks were a publicity man's idea and were not in the original title. That seems likely, but it raises the question whether the asterisks were part of the initial promotion of the movie, or were adopted later. An original Polish movie poster describes the movie as a ``satyryczny obraz armii amerykanskiej w Korei'' (modulo some accents), and gives the title as M.A.S.H. Most other promotional posters for this movie that one can find on the web (here, for example) use asterisks. Probably most are unclearly or uncertainly dated, but all those that rely on stills or artwork from the studio (unlike the original cartoon in the Polish ad) seem to include asterisks. In some of the pictures that appear to be older, however, the asterisks are smaller than they usually are now, and are not centered vertically but appear lower. These could have been interpreted as slightly raised periods, though there were only three. Perhaps they were originally intended to emphasize (though one might have guessed it from the capitalization) that the title was not the nonacronymic word mash. It's worth noting that in Latin monumental inscriptions (of all periods, classical to modern), raised periods or dots have been used to separate letters of an abbreviation (so a four-letter abbreviation like SPQR would have only three marks in the locations where MASH has asterisks).

That's what I've found and thought of. Draw your own conclusions.

Obsolete name for a five iron (golf club). One number higher is a Spade Mashie.

Obsolete name for a seven iron (golf club). Between a Mashie and a Niblick. Just as of this writing, this entry is leading in the contest for entry of least personal utility to the glossarist.

``Over my dead body!''
``That would be a mashie-niblick shot,'' said Sidney McMurdo.
[P. G. Wodehouse: Nothing Serious, (1950).]

Meters Above Sea Level.

Minimum Aviation System Performance Standards. Specifies standards for GPS. Standard based on earlier Air Force specs.

mass affluent
A term used for marketing demographic. Specifically families, and members of families, with annual incomes of over $75,000 per annum (2003-adjusted dollars). According to the US Census Bureau, 15% of US households were in the ranks of the mass affluent in 1980, 26% in 2005. I didn't actually check with the Census Bureau; I'm just parroting an an article by Raksha Arora and Lydia Saad in the Gallup Management Journal. They explain that women in this demographic are ``smart, educated, and have considerable discretionary income,'' and they offer tips on how to sell to them. Something that I object even more strongly to than an ugly term like ``mass affluent women'' is the facile assumption that rich people -- even moderately rich people, IOW people fabulously rich by historical standards -- are smart. In principle, to the degree that smarts tend to help you get rich or marry rich or choose rich parents, there will be a correlation. So they might be smarter, if not smart. But in practice, not much.

One day, completely out of the blue, this woman asked me, ``why are you massaging my ass?'' Actually, I was just squeezing her sexy butt. Looking back, or thinking back, or whatever back, that might be the most thought-provoking question she ever asked me. Not because the answer was any mystery, but because the question was. (Yes, ``this woman'' was my girlfriend. Demonstrative adjectives are versatile.)

In my high school German class in 1972 or so, we encountered this beautiful word in a popular magazine (probably Bunte Illustrierte). It wasn't in any of our dictionaries. An Austrian boys' choir touring the US visited our class around then, and they didn't recognize this word either. They even denied that it was a word. Now there's the Internet. To all the people who have doubted me ever since, I can now say: google it!

(Sounds vaguely obscene innat context, doan it?) BTW, it means `massive motor-vehicle pile-up.'

Multi-Application Sonar Trainer.

Master of Arts in Teaching. It provides certification for some segment of K-12 along with graduate study in the academic area in which it is awarded.

Miller Analogy Test. Usually called the ``Miller Analogies Test.''

Moving Annual Trend.

Me!!?? ``Materialistic''?? Oh you are soooo wrong! I have a dream, and my vision is steadily focused on that dream! I dream of financial independence and security. The more securities, the better! It is a very unique dream, because it is my personal dream of my personal financial success, rather someone else's dream of someone else's success.

In a speech in 1913, Cassius J. Keyser (J. does not stand for Julius) explained:
``But does not the lawyer sometimes arrive at correct conclusions? Undoubtedly he does sometimes, and, what may seem yet more astonishing, so does your historian and even your sociologist, and that without the help of accident. When this happens, however, when these students arrive, I do not say at truth, for that may be by lucky accident or happy chance or a kind of intuition, but when they arrive at conclusions that are correct, then that is because they have been for the moment in all literalness acting the part of mathematician. I do not say this for the aggrandizement of mathematics.''

For a contrasting opinion, consider Aaron V. Cicourel, Method and Measurement in Sociology, p. 7 (New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1964):

The research techniques and measurement scales of any science can be viewed as a problem in the sociology of knowledge.

A region of Bangladesh. Actually, Matlab is an upazila of Chandpur District in the Division of Chittagong. An upazila, as you may infer, is some kind of subdistrict, something like either a US county or, in states like New York and Indiana, a township. Matlab Upazila has an area of 409 sq. km.

I'm sure it's a delightful enough place, but I've never been. I only learned about it while browsing (this can be done by hand, my young friends) the June 2012 issue of Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics. The first article there was ``Sibship Size, Birth Order, and Children's Education in Developing Countries: Evidence from Bangladesh,'' by Cheolsung Park and Wankyo Chung. Here is the beginning of the abstract:

We examine whether the effect of sibship size on education differs by the individual's birth order in low-income countries, using details from Matlab, Bangladesh. Exploiting exposure to the randomized family planning program in Matlab for identification...

I have to say that I was momentarily disoriented. Because of MATLAB. Ironically, I was only browsing this journal as part of my randomized study of capitalization in journal titles on covers. Anyway, you might as well get something useful out of this entry, so here's the rest of the abstract:

...we find that sibship has negative effect on education [well, duh] and positive effect on labor force participation of the first and second-born children [duhble duh], but no significant effect on education or labor force participation of the later-born children [eh, makes sense, but it's beginning to be interesting, so I'll have to stop].

MATrix LABoratory. It's a numerical computing environment and fourth-generation programming language. It's widely used, but I'm not sure I'd call it popular. It's vile but useful. How is it useful? Years ago, when I used to hang out in the old saunas, err, computer clusters with their Unix boxes (SPARC stations, to give you a vague idea of the era) and hulking CRT's, I would notice that some students would log in to two adjacent machines and use them together. It turned out that they were slaving over homework assigned by professors of mechanical or industrial engineering who could think of nothing more educational or enlightening to assign than tedious MATLAB projects. The results were too large to view on a single screen. To paraphrase Ernest Rutherford, if they have to use MATLAB, you should have designed a better homework problem.

Mathematical Mark-up Language. An XML-based mark-up for describing mathematics in machine-to-machine communication.

Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters. A chapter of the American Translators Association ``established in 2003 as a non-profit organization by and for translators and interpreters in the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.'' (For Illinois, however, see also MICATA.)

Mate is a moderately interesting verb, somewhat less interesting than the activity. And animals and electric cords can be mated, though generally not to each other. Also, when animals are mated, they usually mate -- even though they are ``the passive recipients of the action of'' mating, according to some old grammars' explanations of the passive voice, they are not so passive: they do the business of mating themselves. That's how it is with that sort of intransitive verb. The ``mating season'' of an animal is the time when the animal (speaking pairwise collectively 'ere, mate) mates. Except pandas. The panda mating season is a sort of window of missed opportunity: sometime during the mating season there comes a day, maybe two, when the female panda is in the mood. She could probably sleep through it, and when she's awake she hardly knows what to do about it. The males aren't exactly operators either. So mating season is what zookeepers call a ``challenge.'' They monitor the female's estrogen level -- she comes into heat just after it peaks. It's a miracle pandas survived before zoos were invented.

Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership.

Mirror Australian Telegraph Publications. Often listed as the source of stories in Australian newspapers.

Matthean priority
A term of art in biblical text criticism that originally meant, and should still be used to mean, the theory that the Gospel of Matthew preceded not only that of Luke but also that of Mark. Not a very popular idea among scholars.

Groucho (I mean Groucho Marx, not any of the other famous people called Groucho) said:

Those are my principles! If you don't like them I have others.

Cf. the Farrer hypothesis (FH), 3ST, and 2SH.

Matthew Principle
The principle that credit for a scientific discovery or other achievement goes to those already famous. [Name refers to the gospel of Matthew 13:12. In the King James version: ``For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.''] One example is the tendency to attribute every method and formulation of mechanics to Newton instead of distributing to Euler, the Bernoullis, Gauss, LaGrange, D'Alembert, Poisson, Hamilton, Jacobi and others the credit for their contributions. Similarly, Aristotle is often credited for the atomic hypothesis (developed by Democritus).

The Matthew Principle is in itself an example of the Matthew principle: in its elaborated form, it was introduced by Robert Merton. Another example is the old saying about ``standing on the shoulders of giants.'' The phrase is normally quoted in the form used by Newton, but is far older. Merton himself examines this in an exhaustively discursive ``Shandean Postscript.''

Like Matthews. Most often like Dave Matthews, the musician, and less often, but still frequently, like Chris Matthews, an MSNBC talk-show host. Matthews is not an unusual name. Cf. Olbermannesque.

Master Antenna TeleVision.

Medium {Adaptor | Access} Unit. Also `Media' same, but singular seems more appropriate. Hardware interface of workstation and LAN.

Million Accounting Units.

Multistation Access Unit. Also MSAU. Not necessarily the same as MAU above.

The properly mysterious name of the British atomic weapons project in WWII -- initially mysterious even to those who created it. When you give up, you can find the explanation at the related MED entry.

Maudlin College
Nothing so somber: a pronunciation of what is written Magdalen College, q.v.

Once while staying at Christ College, Oxford, I asked directions for ``Maudlin College,'' which was the only name by which I'd ever heard it called. When it was pointed out to me on the map, I couldn't see it. I said, ``there's just a Magdalene College there.'' It was very sweetly explained to me then that the pronunciation ``Maudlin'' for the college name is a popular affectation among the students. I am also informed that the ``Maudlin'' pronunciation is also used at Cambridge. There will always be at least a few who go by the spelling, so I am not surpised that many people outside the university (whichever university) think that the name is pronounced normally there (i.e., according to the normal pronunciation of ``Magdalene'').

Mars Ascension Vehicle. A special vehicle for celebrating the Feast of the Ascension in the Marian (Scots librarian) rite. Oh wait -- it's Mars with an ess! So it's a Marsian rite? Marcion? Okay, the guess method isn't working so well this time. I think the explanation at the ERV entry may be more accurate.

MAssachusetts Veterinary Medical Association. See also AVMA.

German: mit anderen Worten. With a crude literalness, this would be translated `with other words,' but it's equivalent to `in other words.'

The International Monitoring System. IMS code for the seismic station in Mawson, Australia.

Master Airway Bill.

Missile Approach Warning System. It is Winston Churchill who is credited with the famous remark,
There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.

Mad About You. A sitcom.


May Week
A fortnight in June. A Cambridge (UK) tradition.

MA 00:1 -
Closes at 1 AM, but apparently still open now.

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