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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — parietal

Good morning, Netizens...

December 13, 2012

Word of the Day

  • parietal
  • audio pronunciation
  • \puh-RYE-uh-tul\


a : of or relating to the walls of a part or cavity b : of, relating to, or forming the upper posterior wall of the head
: attached to the main wall rather than the axis or a cross wall of a plant ovary — used of an ovule or a placenta
: of or relating to college living or its regulation; especially : of or relating to the regulations governing the visiting privileges of members of the opposite sex in campus dormitories

"In the 1950s, male college students served in the military but couldn't vote, and colleges imposed parietal rules, which kept young men out of women's dorms." — Harrisburg Daily Register (Illinois), March 27, 2012

"[Tuatara] also have a pronounced parietal eye, a light-sensitive pineal gland on the top of the skull. This white patch of skin called its 'third eye' slowly disappears as they mature." — From an article by Ray Lilley in The Associated Press, October 31, 2008


Fifteenth-century scientists first used "parietal" (from Latin "paries," meaning "wall of a cavity or hollow organ") to describe a pair of bones of the roof of the skull between the frontal and posterior bone. Later, "parietal" was also applied to structures connected to or found in the same general area as these bones; the parietal lobe, for example, is the middle division of each hemisphere of the brain. In the 19th century, botanists adopted "parietal" as a word for ovules and placentas attached to the walls of plant ovaries. It was also in the 19th century that "parietal" began to be heard on college campuses, outside of the classroom; in 1837, Harvard College established the Parietal Committee to be in charge of "all offences against good order and decorum within the walls."

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.