Weekly Word: Concatenate

While doing some research on PHP, I came across this strange word several times. What does it mean? How do you pronounce it? Well, to concatenate is “to link together; unite in a series or chain”, and it sounds like this.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word comes from Latin “com- ‘together’ + catenare, from catena ‘a chain.’”

The adjective form is concatenate (sounds like this), meaning “linked together, as in a chain.” There’s also the noun concatenation, the process of concatenating, and the noun concatenator, which I assume is something or someone that concatenates. :roll: This is starting to sound technical!

Well, it does also have a more specific meaning in computer science: “To arrange (strings of characters) into a chained list.” If you’re curious about this, take a look at Wikipedia’s entry on Concatenation.

Now, I’ve never heard this word used in normal conversation, but it is used outside of computer science. With a quick search on Google News, I found examples like “unholy concatenation of low interest rates and high growth in income”, “concatenation of falsehoods”, “the whole concatenation of events leading to the deal”, and “iPhone is a convenient concatenation of the names iPod and phone”.

You could easily replace concatenation with combination, but it wouldn’t be exactly the same. Concatenation has a more specific meaning – plus it sounds much more intriguing! It sounds like a concoction of some sort; it’s like alchemy, scientific and magical all at the same time. Or at least that’s what it sounds like to me. What do you think?