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Rotavap

verb; back formation; blending; clipping; zero derivation
to concentrate down a sample by evaporating off the solvent through the use of a Rotavapor machine
 
Rotavapor is the name of a laboratory instrument that concentrates a sample by evaporating off the solvent. It does so through a rotating motion, a vacuum/suction, and, if applicable, an addition of heat. Its name was most likely a blend between rotate and vapor/evaporation, which are its two main functions. Neither vapor nor evaporation blends with rotate perfectly (no overlap), but is likely due to the fact that it is a product name. The noun Rotavapor was then clipped to become Rotavap to shorten the name of a frequently used equipment (to allow for easier communication in the laboratory). Recently, the word has undergone zero-derivation to become a verb. The likely motivation for this is also to simplify communication in the laboratory for a widely used instrument. It is primarily used in chemistry laboratories, where the use of a Rotavap is most common.
Etymology : The verb Rotavap is zero-derived from the noun Rotavap, which is clipped from Rotavapor. Rotavapor is the name of a device that concentrates down a sample by evaporating off the solvent. The name most likely came from the blending of rotate and vapor. Rotation comes from Latin rotationem, noun of action from rotare 'revolve, roll,' which is from Proto-Indo-European roto. The verb to rotate is an 1808 back-formation from the noun rotation. Vapor is from Anglo French vapour, which is from Latin vaporem 'exhalation, steam, heat' of unknown origin. It is possible that Rotavapor is a blend of rotate and evaporation. Evaporation is from Latin evaporationem, from evaporare 'disperse in vapor,' from ex 'out' + vapor 'steam' + at (verb forming suffix) + ion (noun forming suffix). Neither are perfect blends, but because it is a product name, some creativity was involved in the novel creation.
Source : "I'm going to Rotavap my sample in 10 minutes." (graduate student, September 2008)
Last modified: 5 December 2008


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