The Lexical Expander 1: Centigrade

Word: Centigrade

Definition: degrees Celsius.

Example: Today it is 3 centigrade.

Rarity:  bottom 40% of words in common usage (Merriam-Webster).

Etymology: 1799, from French: centi- (one hundred) + grade (degree of measurement; via Latin gradus “step, pace, gait”). []

Word in Use: “Designed to function in temperatures ranging from minus 32 to 49 centigrade, the Centauro II engine provides 24 horsepower per ton compared to 19 for the old Centauro. ” (

Across languages: Spanish: centigrados; in use: “Termometro descendio hasta 6 grados centigrados en SLP.” ( )

Why I like this word: I like the word centigrade because it has a certain economy to it; it allows one to skip saying “degrees Celsius,” while still being correct (saying simple Celsius is incorrect, it must be degrees Celsius). It also has a rather nice Latinate quality to it. In Spanish one loses the economy, having to say grados centigrados; however, that too has a rather pleasant continuity to it.