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Meaning of '-ominoe'

Date: 11/07/2001 at 11:27:52
From: J. Bunker
Subject: Geometry

We are drawing pictures of dominoes, triominoes, tetrominoes, and 
pentominoes.  What is the meaning of the root "ominoe"?

Date: 11/07/2001 at 11:49:49
From: Doctor Sarah
Subject: Re: Geometry

Hi J - thanks for writing to Dr. Math.

Good question! -omino isn't really a root, and with the exception of 
"domino," the rest are "made-up" words.  Let's look at what Steven 
Schwartzman says about the word "polyomino" in _The Words of 
Mathematics - An Etymological Dictionary of Mathematical Terms Used in 
English (Mathematical Association of America):

  The term polyomino was coined by Solomon W. Golomb in 1954.  

  The first component is fromGreek polus "many," from the 
  Indo-European root pel - "to fill," which is an English 
  cognate. The second component is all but the first letter 
  of Latin domino, from Latin dominus "master (of the house)." 
  The more basic Latin word is domus "house," from the 
  Indo-European root dem - "home." 

  In the 16th century, a domino was a priest's winter cloak 
  with hood; the name came from the expression benedicamus 
  domino "Let us bless the Lord," which monks used to repeat 
  as a brief prayer. Only in the 19th century did the term 
  apply to the rectangular pieces used in the game of dominoes. 

  One hypothesis to explain the connection between the two 
  dissimilar objects is that the dominoes used in the game are 
  of the same black color as the dominoes worn by monks. 

  The do- in domino coincidentally but conveniently resembles 
  the do- that means "two," as in double and dodecagon. Whereas 
  a standard domino is made up of two square sections with 
  numbers on each, a polyomino is made up of several square 
  sections without any numbers on them. A player is challenged 
  to combine the pieces in a set of polyominoes to produce 
  certain shapes or simple pictures of recognizable objects. 
  There are 5 distinct tetrominoes, 12 pentominoes, 
  35 hexominoes, 108 heptominoes, 369 octominoes, etc. 
  Pentominoes have been more popular than any of the other 

- Doctor Sarah, The Math Forum   

Date: 11/09/2001 at 10:17:42
Subject: Geometry

Dear Dr. Sarah,

Thank you for your great answer.  I will enjoy sharing it with my 

Ms. J. Bunker
Norman, OK
Associated Topics:
High School Definitions
High School Discrete Mathematics
High School Euclidean/Plane Geometry
High School Geometry

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