Words: epizootic, a. and n.

The current issue of The New Yorker contains a piece by John Cassidy about "the current financial epizootic". This unfortunate condition has whipped around the world, but one must assume that Mr Cassidy is optimistic.

For the word means a disease temporarily prevalent among animals. As the Gentleman's Magazine said in 1790, these diseases "are, in the brute creation, what epidemic diseases are in man". A year ago, when Hong Kong crashed, it was hoped that this would remain merely enzootic, that is peculiar to a district, climate or season. Meanwhile, epizootic was adapted by Kirwan in his Geological Essays to mean mountains which contain animal remains: which could soon be used of the Wall Street sidewalks as dealers leap from balconies.

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