December 30, 2012
claustrophobia (noun)
\klaw-struh-FOH-bee-uh\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: abnormal fear of being in closed or narrow spaces
How do you use it?
Our guide at the cavern warned us that some of the spaces inside the cave were very small and could be a problem for anyone with claustrophobia.
Are you a word wiz?

Have no fear and choose the word that you think is related to "claustrophobia."

Today, people usually use "cloister" to refer to a monastery or convent. But to understand the link between "claustrophobia" and "cloister," it helps to know that an early meaning of "cloister" was "an enclosed space." And "claustrophobia" and "cloister" both stem from "claustrum," which means "an enclosed space" or "cloister" -- just the sort of place that someone with claustrophobia would want to avoid. ("Claustrum" traces back to the Latin verb "claudere," meaning "to close.") Adding the combining form "-phobia" to "claustrum" provides the fear factor, producing the word for fear of enclosed spaces.
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