To enter Babel, one must follow Hebrew Babhel on the way from Akkadian bab-ilu, the Gate of God—but only ruins remain of mankind’s attempt to converse one on One. A shorter journey ends at Merriam-Webster, the monument of an heretical sect that attempted to define all of His creation. The orthodoxy noted its curious feature: a word’s meaning is determined by how it is used in relation to other words, whose meanings are found likewise: the monument was built on no foundation. A search ensued for the loose word that, if pulled out, would cause indescribable destruction.

Walter Ancarrow, in “Three from Etymologies