It is a curious fact of modern English usage that the only word currently in common use with the suffix "-trix" is dominatrix (I think; if anyone would like to correct me I'd be happy to hear it). Most other words that once used the suffix have now been shifted in popular usage to the masculine suffix "-tor." This is unfortunate, because "-trix" is such a fun suffix.

The upshot of this is that, for students entering law school (and here I am generalizing to all law students from my own anecdotal experience) who are now faced with a lot of words in common legal usage that end in "-trix," there is a tendancy to ascribe to them undeserved connotations relating to the word "dominatrix." Some favorties among those I've encountered so far: Administratrix (a female administrator), Testatrix (a female testator, or person who makes a will), Executrix (a female executor). All of which create in my mind a vision of women acting in their professional and legal capacity, embellished with S&M touches.

And now, a nerdy tangent: It is a well-known article of Dork Lore that in the Star Wars universe Darth Vader's personal Super Star Destroyer is called the Executor. This is a very cool sounding name (it's pronounced "ecks-ECK-you-TOR"), which is no doubt what Mr. Lucas, or whomever, had in mind when naming it. Nonetheless, an Executor is the person who administers an estate following someone's death. You can derive a contrived explanation for how this is a metaphor for Darth Vader's role, or maybe the empire as custodian of the estate of the now-dead Old Republic, but I would suggest that Occam's Razor would seem to indicate that Mr. Lucas had "Executioner" in mind, decided "Executor" sounded cooler, and went with the latter without thinking too hard. So here we have Darth Vader, towering over the bridge of his flagship, the Executor. "I am Darth Vader, Dark Lord of Probate! Sinister Master of Wills and Estates!"


I read the first paragraph of this entry this morning as I was finishing breakfast and triumphantly thought, "Ha! He forgot about executrix! I'll point that out when I've got time to read the rest of the entry and write a comment."

Drat you. Dark Lord of Probate, though, probably would have had me spraying Raisin Bran over my desk, so it's just as well I didn't finish reading right then.

Oh, and Testatrix is my favorite of the words you listed. No need to think too hard about what she might be into.

Yeah, I don't quite get testicles, etymologically. Test in Latin means something like "to bear witness," as in last will and testament, to testify, etc. Maybe it's a Greek root vs. Latin root thing, or maybe some physician at some point was being obscurely poetic in naming body parts.

This also explains why, when one refers to someone who died intestate, one is referring to someone who died without a will, and not someone who died without testes.

haha, amusing. i can see the loads of "fun" in law school that awaits me. anyways, i did as any good child of the information age would do - googled the etymology of the word testicle. God, help me. In any case, they say some believe it comes from the root meaning "to bear witness" because testes bear witness to virility. Also in ancient Roman times, only men could bear witness legally. Then other think its related to testa, which means "pot" or "shell." Classes need to start soon so I don't have time to look up word origins of male body parts.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on September 30, 2005 10:20 AM.

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