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Grammar: Magnetorheostatic, not magnetorheological November 11, 2015

Posted by federalist in Language.

Magnetorheological is often used to describe fluids that change viscosity in response to magnetic fields.  And this is why engineers should be required to have some basic training in language: Magnetorheological is as nonsensical as it is unwieldy.

Let’s apply some etymology:  Magneto is fine; the phenomenon is a magnetically controlled.  Likewise, rheo makes sense: the phenomenon applies to flow.  But logia?  That’s the study of a phenomenon.  Magnetorheology is a field of study, not a description of the things being studied.

So what is a reasonable word to describe something whose flow characteristics can be controlled through magnetism?  English has a precedential term: –stat is a suffix for regulating devices.  In fact, a rheostat is a device for regulating flow.  So a magnetorheostat would be a device for regulating flow using magnetism, and the adjective for the substance and/or device so controlled would be magnetorheostatic.


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