DRACHMA \DRAK.muh\ n. a former monetary unit of Greece, pl. -S, -E, or -I
As you can see, the word that actually appears on drachma currency is ΔΡΑΧΜΗ. This is where you get a little reward for taking the time to learn the Greek Alphabet a little while ago when we covered the Greek letter ETA!
The drachma has been used several times throughout Greek history, making its last appearance in 2002 when it was replaced by the euro.
In modern Greece, the drachma was subdivided into a unit called a LEPTON , worth 1/100th of a drachma. Lepton comes from the Greek leptos, meaning ‘small’, and was originally used to denote a small coin used in ancient times. Since then it has been used to subdivide whatever currency is in vogue. Even today, the lepton is Greece’s name for the euro-cent.
The 50 lepta coin below was printed when the lepton represented 1/100th of a PHOENIX, the basic Greek currency unit in use just before the modern drachma made its reappearance…
In the 20th century, the particle physicists also decided to use this term to represent a family of elementary particles. In the currency context, the usual plural is LEPTA, while in the physics context the usual plural is LEPTONS.
But back to the drachma…
In ancient Greece, the drachma was divided into six OBOLI (sing. OBOLUS ) and it in turn divided the MINA into 100 parts. (Obolus also has the variant OBOL , pl. OBOLS)
There’s a lot more I could say about today’s word, but I’ll just throw in one more random tidbit. The plural DRACHMAI has the anagram CHADARIM, which is a plural of CHEDER, a Jewish school.
And one final tidbit for Collins/CSW/SOWPODS players. You get to play the unpronouncable MNA, a variant of the MINA I mentioned earlier.
ETA /EE.tuh or AY.tuh/ n. the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, often transliterated in English as the letter ‘e’
Astronomers sometimes use eta to label the 7th star in a constellation, as in Eta Carinae, a fact which has been used once or twice in the New York Times crossword puzzle, so look out for that one.
More often though, you’ll get clues like these: [Seventh letter, to Aristotle], [Zeta follower], [Third letter after delta], [Hellenic H], [Greek vowel]… which hopefully all make sense now.
I say that partly because many of the Greek letters get a good workout in the grid, but also because, as you can see above, the clues often expect you to know the order of each letter. But how can you know the order of each letter, without knowing the entire sequence?
I’m not sure if the following short video will help you out or not, because being a middle-aged prodigy I already knew the Greek alphabet before watching it. But at the very least, it’s a little bit fun…
Didn’t help you? Well, at least remember this today: eta is the 7th letter in the Greek alphabet.
TIP — Take a look at the symbol for lower case eta, η. See how it looks a wee-little bit like the number seven? If you mentally remove that first vertical stroke, maybe? Ok, it’s a bit of a useless tip. But sometimes useless tips are the most useful…
“[Seventh letter]. Hmmmmmm…. Hey, remember when Word Buff tried to tell us that η looks like a 7? What crap. It looks nothing like a seven. Hey wait! That’s it. ETA!”
Oops. Nearly forgot to throw the Scrabble players a morsel. Man this is a tough gig!
If you see ETA on the board, note that you can take advantage of the following hooks: BETA, FETA, GETA, META, SETA, and ZETA.
I’ll let you look them up. For now I’ll just mention in passing that if you took my advice earlier in this post you’d already know two of them!
P.S. Here’s an example of a Collins-only (read: Not allowed in North American Scrabble) footnote I warned you about the other day.
First… There are two obscure Collins-only hooks for ETA: KETA (a Pacific salmon) and WETA (a grasshopper).
Second… Did you notice I gave two possible pronunciations of today’s word? It turns out that these pronunciations have proper linguistic names. /AY.tuh/ is called the ETACISM and /EE.tuh/ is called the ITACISM.
I’m not sure how to use these words in a sentence, but I know how to lay them down on a Scrabble board and add 50 points to my total score. A Collins game, of course ;-)