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An anatomist is someone who studies or is an expert in atoms. Normally, these people would be called physicists (illiterates would call them physicians), but everyone’s a specialist these days so an expert or student of atoms is called anatomist rather than physicist.

Anatomist has interesting roots. The atomist part is obvious, but anatomist is one of the few words in which the indefinite article “an” was handily included right within the word for efficiency purposes. Thus, in correct usage, one should say “anatomist,” not “an anatomist” as the “an” is redundant. One word in place of two; what could be more convenient than that?

Likewise, it’s incorrect to speak of a specific anatomist because anatomist was formed from an indefinite, not definite article root. The word “theatomist” used to be employed when talking about a specific person who studies or is an expert in atoms. However, too many people found this word confusing because they assumed it had something to do with the theatre. Because anatomists rarely have anything to do with the theatre as they are too busy playing with their atoms, the word theatomist was eventually dropped from the English language.

Over time, people forgot the root of the word anatomist and started placing both definite and indefinite articles in front of it, making the use of the word anatomist less, rather than more efficient.

Ignoring lexicography and considering just the subject, anatomist is a very popular profession these days because, unlike occupations that deal with tangible objects bigger than, say, the ball of a ballpoint pen, or even a breadbox, anatomists can tell the general public pretty well anything about atoms and who among said general public would be in a position to dispute the claims? Pretty well no one, that’s who.

Think about it. Imagine if an anatomist told a layperson, “Atoms can naturally split apart if the framatazoid subatomic particles present in all atoms lose cohesion in the presence of a rare kaleinoscolark subatomic particle. This is an exceptionally infrequent occurrence, but it can happen to atoms in a bohemian mayonnaise mixture that is left out in the midday sun for too long while being farted upon by someone who just ate a triple helping of sauerkraut.” Most of us physics-dolts would say, “Wow, I never new that. Truth really is stranger than fiction.”

Anatomists can say crap like that and people will believe them. However, specialists in things that are big and solid enough for us to see, touch and fondle can rarely get away with saying anything that bizarre. For example, if an auto mechanic tried saying something of that nature about your car and then followed up with, “and because you let it happen it’s going to cost $2,225.50 plus tax to fix it,” hardly anyone would fall for it. I and most of the people here at The Words Project would swallow it because, in addition to being physics-dolts, we’re also automotive-dolts, but that’s probably just us. That’s why we said “hardly anyone,” rather than “no one.”

In summary, if you’re looking for a career and you’re trying to decide between auto mechanic and anatomist, choose anatomist. It will allow the creative bullshitter in you to run free. Or you could become a politician.

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