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Pronounced /ˈænseɪtɪd/Help with pronunciation

If you wish to confuse your hearers, you might describe the cup or mug from which you drink your breakfast cuppa as ansated. But it would merely be an irritatingly superior way of asserting that the drinking vessel in question has a handle. Ansated is from Latin ansa, a handle.

An Ankh
An ansated cross

When Galileo turned his primitive telescope on Saturn, its famous rings looked like two blobs either side of the planet (he thought they were moons). A little later, astronomers with slightly better instruments saw what seemed to be handles and referred, in a euphonious phrase, to ansated Saturn (or, as Hevelius described the planet in 1655, a spherico-ansated figure).

The word now most often turns up in descriptions of ancient sacred signs. An ansated cross is a T shape with a circle at the top, a symbol that’s more commonly called a ankh (from the Egyptian word for life or soul).

Also known as the Key to the Nile and, to the early Christians, as an “ansated cross,” the ankh was believed to ensure the immortality of every god and goddess.

Exploring Spellcraft, by Gerina Dunwich, 2001.

[Thanks go to Victor Charlton for suggesting this word.]

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 17 Sep. 2011

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 17 September 2011.