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Order of things

A couple months ago there was a very orderly moment at 12:34 in the afternoon. For one minute, it was 12:34 5/6/7. For those of us not on military time, it happened twice that day.

I was chatting with somebody recently and he pointed out that an even cooler moment happened seventeen years ago (and one hundred seventeen years ago, for that matter). I only wish I’d remembered to look at a digital watch at exactly 12:34 and 56 seconds on 7/8/90. Or even the summer before that, at exactly 01:23:45 on 6/7/89.

Anyway, here are ten useful words to add to your vocabulary, all related to the theme of order:

1. acrostic: a composition usually in verse in which sets of letters (as the initial or final letters of the lines) taken in order form a word or phrase or a regular sequence of letters of the alphabet.

2. cavalcade: a dramatic sequence or procession.

3. tierce: a sequence of three playing cards of the same suit.

4. barcarole: a Venetian boat song usually in 6/8 or 12/8 time characterized by the alternation of a strong and weak beat that suggests a rowing rhythm.

5. polystichous: arranged in several rows.

6. apparitor: an official formerly sent to carry out the orders of a magistrate, judge, or court.

7. Fibonacci number: an integer in the infinite sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13,… of which the first two terms are 1 and 1 and each succeeding term is the sum of the two immediately preceding.

8. anastrophe: inversion of the usual syntactical order of words for rhetorical effect.

9. denouement: the outcome of a complex sequence of events.

10. perfecta: a bet in which the bettor picks the first and second place finishers in order.

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