From New Latin cȳma (“young sprout or shoot of cabbage”) (whence the botanic usage of cyme), from Ancient Greek κῦμα (kûma, “swell, wave”, “cyma”, “sprout of a plant”), from κύω (kúō, “I conceive, I become pregnant”).
Most English coinages on this root are formed on its short stem, κῡμ- (kūm-). The fact that the Ancient Greek etymon only inflects as a third-declension neuter noun has led some writers to prescribe forms that preserve the root’s long stem, κῡματ- (kūmat-), for philological reasons (see, for example, the 1903 and 1908 citations of cymatoscope), but such forms are rare.
Latinate phrases that include cyma, namely cyma inversa, cyma recta, and cyma reversa, show that, when employed as a Latin word, cȳma is treated as a first-declension feminine noun rather than as third-declension neuter consonant-stem noun.
There are several Classical precedents, both from Latin and from Ancient Greek, for formations on the short stem (κῡμ- (kūm-)) of this root, although formations on the long stem (κῡματ- (kūmat-)) are more common in Ancient Greek; consequently, whereas formations on the long stem may be preferable, especially when combined with other Ancient Greek elements, formations on the short stem are by no means incorrect.
- (architecture) A moulding of the cornice, wavelike in form, whose outline consists of a concave and a convex line; an ogee.
- (botany) = cyme
- “‖ Cyma” listed on page 1,302 of volume II (C) of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles [1st ed., 1893]
‖ Cyma (səi·mă). Also 6 syma, 6–9 sima, 7–8 scima, 8–9 cima. [mod.L., a. Gr. κῦμα anything swollen, a billow, a wave, a waved or ogee moulding, the young sprout of a cabbage (in which sense also L. cȳma, whence the botanical use).] [¶] 1. Arch. A moulding of the cornice, the outline of which consists of a concave and a convex line; an ogee. [¶] Cyma recta: a moulding concave in its upper part, and convex in its lower part. Cyma reversa (rarely inversa): a moulding convex in its upper part, and concave in its lower part. [¶] 1563 Shute Archit. Ci b, 4 partes geue also to Sima reuersa. Ibid. Ciij b, That second parte which remayneth of the Modulus ye shall geue vnto Syma. 1703 Moxon Mech. Exerc. 267 Scima reversa..Scima recta, or Ogee. 1726 Leoni Alberti’s Archit. II. 34 b, A Cima inversa of the breadth of two minutes. 1761 Brit. Mag. II. 642 The true cima, or cimaise. 1850 Leitch Müller’s Anc. Art. § 249. 258 A base of several plinths and cymas. [¶] 2. Bot. = Cyme 1 and 2. [¶] 1706 Phillips (ed. Kersey), Cyma..the young Sprout of Coleworts, or other Herbs: a little Shoot, or Branch: But it is more especially taken by Herbalists for the top of any Plant. 1775 Lightfoot Flora Scotia (1792) I. 236 The cyma, or little umbel which terminates the branches.
- Sturgis, Russel. Cyma, in A Dictionary of Architecture and Building, Biographical, Historical,... MacMillan Co.:1901.
- cyma in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
- “‖cyma” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary [2nd ed., 1989]
Third declension neuter.