Another good word to save up: orthostat

I guess two is not quite enough for a pattern, we need three for a pattern.  But here is a second word that has something to do with rocks.  A good word to save up because someday, and I promise this, life will be back to normal and there will be cocktail parties and salon dinners and stuff.  We already talked about a word relating to rocks, namely “regolith” (blog article).  Here is another good word to save up: 


What is an “orthostat”?

Again we turn to the source of all readily available knowledge — Wikipedia (article defining “orthostat”).  An orthostat is:

a large stone with a more or less slab-like shape that has been artificially set upright.

Wikipedia explains further that:

a cube-shaped block is not an orthostat.

The point being that if a block is cube-shaped, then it fails to satisfy the requirement that it is “more or less slab-like”, but more importantly, if a block is cube-shaped, then there is no particular orientation that counts as “upright”.  If a block is cube-shaped, then no orientation differs from another.

The most famous orthostats are, I imagine, the pairs of stones that hold up the lintels at Stonehenge.  Such groups of three stones are of course called “trilithons”.

Anyway, now you know.  Everywhere you look there are orthostats, and until now maybe you did not know that there is a word for such things.  But now you know.

I am guessing an obelisk (a “tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape or pyramidion at the top”, Wikipedia article) does not count as an orthostat because it is not “slab-like”.

But anyway, save this one up because, I promise, some day life will be back to normal and there will be cocktail parties again and salon dinners again.  And somebody will be trying to describe something and they can’t quite find the word, and the correct word will be “orthostat”, and you will be the one who provides that word.

5 Replies to “Another good word to save up: orthostat”

  1. well, well, who would have thought it – The Monolith from The Space Odyssey 2001 is an example of an orthostat placed in the Moon’s regolith – nicely done Carl.
    LanguageTool in my browser is confused with orthostat and regolight – silly AI, learn from Carl.

  2. Sort of like the numerous large slabs of granite and marble that were on display at the shop where we bought a marble countertop for remodeling our kitchen.

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