This comes, once again, from Adrian McKinty's always enlivening blog, 'The Psychology of Every Day Life'. (I know, I know--you want the link. Just be patient will you?) The review is for Amira Lakhous's excellent novel Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in the Piazza Vittorio. The quote is:
"Suspicion falls upon the saintly Amedeo who has gone missing and who seems to be the only one keeping order among the fissiparous residents of the run down block of flats in the otherwise charming Piazza Vittorio."
So of course I have no idea what 'fissiparous' means. If someone had asked me without context, I would have hazarded two guesses as to the meaning--phosphorescent, as in soda, or piscene, as in fishing. As may be evident, I am not that good when it comes to blind guessing.
However, in context I will venture that it means something like 'combative' or 'retaliatory'. What are you all going to throw out there? Not asking you to make public your blind guesses, but think about it for a moment...
Okay. It doesn't mean anything like that. It means 'reproducing by fission' or 'Tending to break up into parts or break away from a main body; factious.'
As there is no reproduction involved in this novel that I can remember, I think we must take the second meaning. I would like to say that that 'p' in fissiparous really threw me. But as 'fission' itself is a mystery to me, even getting it right wouldn't have helped so awfully much.
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