That is, the part of my cosmos represented by my patch of boulevard, which has exploded into a mass of feathery foliage and pink petals. Butterflies flit about in the flowers, and the cats lurk in the mini-jungle created by the stems, occasionally imitating the action of the tiger to hiss at passing dogs from the safety of their cat-cave.
Yes, my cosmos (these ones)
have come into bloom.
But why are these jolly flowers called by the same name as the universe?
In ancient Greek, kosmos meant "order, ornament". The philosopher Pythagoras applied this word to the world and universe to reflect the perfect order and arrangement he perceived in them. The flower, being native to the tropics of the New World, was not discovered by English speakers till the late 1700s, and was baptized "cosmos" by a botanist to reflect its elegant ornamental appearance.
As with "lilac", there's a pronunciation issue with this word, whether it designates the universe or the flower.
The Oxford English Dictionary says it is pronounced KOZZ moss.
American dictionaries say KOZZ m'ss is the most common pronunciation, followed by KOZZ moass and KOZZ moss
The Canadian Oxford Dictionary says KOZZ moass first (and that's NOT just because its editor-in-chief says it that way!), followed by KOZZ m'ss, and does not even mention KOZZ moss.
What do you say? Do you pronounce it the same for the universe as for the flower?
I always feel a bit of a cheat when passers-by say "I LOVE your garden", since I do NOTHING but watch the cosmos come up each year from the seeds they have shed the year before (and then toss the deadheads on the ground when they go to seed). Here's Wordlady's gardening tip: if you want a big gardening bang for no bucks and no effort, plant cosmos. Silene (catchfly) are also good.
However, not everyone is a fan, apparently. One day when I was out deadheading, a passing pedestrian observed that if she had her way, she would pull out every last ... "cosmo"! Her hatred for the innocent flower was apparently as strong as that innate English aversion to singular nouns ending in "s".
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