Post Eagle Newspaper


Jul 17, 2024

45°F, few clouds
New Jersey

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Atrium – Atrocious

Today’s words are – ATRIUM and ATROCIOUS. An ATRIUM is – A RECTANGULAR COURT, LIKE THE OPEN AREA IN THE CENTER OF AN ANCIENT ROMAN HOUSE. ATROCIOUS means – EXTREMELY EVIL OR CRUEL. The words – ATROCIOUS and ATRIUM – come from the Latin word – ATER, ATRA, ATRUM – meaning – BLACK. In ancient Rome, there was a fireplace inside the ATRIUM, which was a room in the center of the house. The fireplace would let lots of black smoke into the room and if a person was in there for awhile, he or she would get black on his/her face. The Romans often had a small pool in the ATRIUM with an opening in the roof above the pool so that the smoke could escape from, and the pool was for catching rain water coming through the opening. Ben Franklin came up with an improvement on fireplaces about 250 years ago. The smoke from the fire would often rise out of the chimney, but if there was a downwind, the smoke would be pushed into the room. So Ben Franklin came up with a fireplace that had a curved extension at the back of the fireplace. Therefore, if the wind blew the smoke back down the chimney, it would be caught in the curved extension and forced back up the chimney and out, preventing the smoke from getting into the room. This is why we get the words ATROCIOUS and ATRIUM today, because of the black smoke from the fireplaces that would come into the ATRIUM and often blacken people’s faces.