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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — intestine

July 27, 2012

Word of the Day

  • intestine
  • audio pronunciation
  • \in-TESS-tin\


: internal; specifically : of or relating to the internal affairs of a state or country

News reports of intestine disagreements between the country's two most powerful political factions led to murmurings that the country was on the precipice of civil war.

"Last week U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon instructed Valerie Amos to leave for Syria in order to assess the humanitarian situation in the country and agree with the authorities on ways to provide aid to the population hit by the intestine war." — From an article by the ITAR-TASS News Agency, March 1, 2012


We bet you thought "intestine" was a noun referring to a part of the digestive system! It is, of course, but naming that internal body part isn't the word's only function. Both the noun and the adjective "intestine" have been a part of English since the 15th century, and both trace to the Latin adjective "intestinus," meaning "internal," and ultimately to "intus," meaning "within." Though the adjective "intestine" turns up much less frequently than does its anatomical cousin, it does see occasional use, especially as a synonym for "civil" and "domestic" (in contrast to "foreign") applied to wars and disturbances.

From Merriam-Webster Online at

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