max-i-mum (m-k-se-mem) noun
plural max-i-mums or max-i-ma (-me)
1. a. The greatest possible quantity or degree. b. The greatest quantity or degree reached or recorded; the upper limit of variation. c. The time or period during which the highest point or degree is attained.
2. An upper limit permitted by law or other authority.
3. Astronomy. a. The moment when a variable star is most brilliant. b. The magnitude of the star at such a moment.
4. Mathematics. a. The greatest value assumed by a function over a given interval. b. The largest number in a set.
1. Having or being the greatest quantity or the highest degree that has been or can be attained: maximum temperature.
2. Of, relating to, or making up a maximum: a maximum number in a series.
[Latin, from neuter of maximus, greatest.]
thresh-old (thr-sh-old-, -hold-) noun
1. A piece of wood or stone placed beneath a door; a doorsill.
2. An entrance or a doorway.
3. The place or point of beginning; the outset.
4. A point separating conditions that will produce a given effect from conditions of a higher or lower degree that will not produce the effect, as the intensity below which a stimulus is of sufficient strength to produce sensation or elicit a response: a low threshold of pain.
[Middle English thresshold, from Old English therscold, threscold.]
Word History: Perhaps the tradition of carrying the bride over the threshold is dying out, but knowledge of the custom persists, leading one to wonder about the -hold or the thresh- in the word threshold. Scholars are still wondering about the last part of the word, but the thresh- can be explained. It is related to the word thresh, which refers to an agricultural process. This process of beating the stems and husks of grain or cereal plants to separate the grain or seeds from the straw was at one time done with the feet of oxen or human beings. Thus, the Germanic word -therskan, or by the switching of sounds called metathesis, -threskan, meant "thresh" and "tread." This association with the feet is probably retained in Old English therscold or threscold (Modern English threshold), "sill of a door (over which one treads)."
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