Thursday, September 10, 2009

The word “via” as noun and preposition

The word via has a Latin origin, meaning way or road as in Via Appia (Appian Way), which is the name of a Roman road that connected Rome to Brindisi in what is now southern Italy.

In English, this meaning of connecting is still present when via is used as a noun—even on a microscale. In microelectronic engineering, for example, the short word via is used to name an interconnect hole or through-hole on an integrated circuit. A via connects two conductive layers separated by a dielectric layer. Vias are typically etched through dielectric layers and then filled with a conductive metal to make an electrical connection.

The word via is also used as a preposition with meanings by way of or by means of (as in sending via email). With via, one can emphasize an applied process (as in separating via distillation). Typically, via can be replaced by prepositions such as by, through, or with with a slight loss of nuance. Also, a detour or unexpected route is often expressed via via: She came from Cyprus via Canada to Chicago.

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