Girandole: a spinning, rotating firework
Happy Fourth of July!
I was quite chuffed, having received quite a positive response from my Kangaroo Words post.
And there it was—another strange lexiconical usage of a word. You see “chuffed” (British slang) can mean one is pleased or displeased. It becomes its own antonym. These words are known as “contronyms.”
Here’s a list to get a better idea:
bolt – to secure; to run away
cleave – separate, adhere
clip – fasten, detach
custom- usual, special
dust – add fine particles, remove fine particles
enjoin – prescribe, prohibit
fast – quick, unmoving
fix – restore, castrate
garnish – enhance (e.g., food), curtail (e.g., wages)
give out – produce, stop production
handicap – advantage, disadvantage
left – remaining, departed from
mean – average, excellent (e.g., “plays a mean game”)
out – visible (e.g., stars), invisible (e.g., lights)
put out – extinguish, generate (e.g., something putting out light)
quite – rather, completely
ravel – tangle, disentangle
sanction – approve, boycott
screen – show, hide
table – propose (in the United Kingdom), set aside (in the United States)
unbending – rigid, relaxing
weather – withstand, wear away
Talk about shades of ambiguity! Then again it keeps people on their toes to pay closer attention to the context to better understand the content.
Kangaroo Word: A synonym within a word, like a little joey tucked away within the mama kangaroo.
A word within a word that reflects the host word—now that is a Word Nerd discovery of delight!
Some say (including the hubs) “nerd” is derogatory. I’m of the opinion a nerd is less of an insult and more of an endearment, or at least an acknowledgement of pursuing a passion with zeal, that others might not embrace. For instance, the movie The Nutty Professor, had the singular inventor trying to prove his “flubber” invention. Deemed eccentric, the professor for all his nerdy qualities became a hero. All those computer geniuses (now CEOs and billionaires) were no doubt shuffled into the nerd nomenclature in their tinkering phase. I see “nerd” as an alternate spelling of “clever,” besides the assonance of “Word Nerd” is cool sounding.
Onward to this month’s batch of words—although if you want to jump in with your thoughts about nerds, I am much interested.
1. bight: a bend in the river or the shore of the sea.
2. limb: to portray with words; describe.
3. comity: mutual courtesy; civility
4. sobriquet: nickname
5. epizeuxis: a literary or rhetorical device that appeals to or invokes the reader’s or listener’s emotions through the repetition of words in quick succession. An example:
6. inanition: lack of vigor, lethargy
7. juberous: uncertain; undecided;dubious
8. aroint: begone as in “Aroint thy, scalawag!”
9. legerity: physical or mental quickness; agility
10. doddle: something easily done. Fixing the flat tire wasn’t a problem at all—it was a doddle.
11. blatherskite: someone given to empty talk.
12. spang: directly; exactly
13. butyraceous: containing or resembling butter.
14. cachinnate: to laugh loudly or immoderately.
15. illation: an inference; a conclusion
16. totis viribus: with all one’s might
17. ambivert: a person between an extrovert and an introvert*
18. caduceus: dropping off early as in The leaves were noticed to have a caduceus departure this autumn.
19. mardy: grumpy, sulky
20. clement: mild in disposition; compassionate
*this word, ambivert, solves the puzzle of designation. A few within my circle have often contemplated how to most accurately describe our situation of being known as social, even boisterous, yet reluctant at joining large gatherings. Suggestions have included “high-functioning introvert” or “gregarious hermit.” The classification of “ambivert” seems acceptable, although the desire to write with either my left of right hand suddenly becomes immediate.
What words leapt out at you as keepers this month?
May I get personal? An ambivert perhaps you are? (Yoda syntax is less intrusive)
Traditionally the month of September signifies the end of summer vacation and the return to school. September 2020 is the year of trying to attempting to educate during a pandemic. This month’s list seems to reflect an opinion on that essential issue. It’s indeed peculiar how the words happened to line up in this theme.
barmecidal: giving only the illusion of plenty
operose: done with or involving much labor
elide: to suppress; omit; pass over
slubber: to perform hastily or carelessly
outre: passing the bounds of what is usual or considered proper; unconventional; bizarre
horripilation: a bristling of the hair on the skin from cold, fear; goose bumps
strepitous: boisterous; noisy
chutzpah: audacity; nerve
peripeteia: a sudden turn of events
mythomane: a person with a strong or irresistible propensity for fantasizing, lying, or exaggerating
fettle: state; condition
blench: to shrink; flinch
cacoethes: an irresistible urge; mania
moil: to work hard; drudge
muzz: to confuse (someone)
moue: a pouting grimace
fardel: a bundle; a burden
succedaneum: a substitute
lassitude: weariness of body or mind from strain, oppressive climate; lack of energy; listlessness
stonking: used to emphasize something remarkable, exciting, or very large (thanks to Fiction Fan’s Book Reviews inspiring use)
Affect or effect? Is it all right or alright? Was it a blatant or flagrant mistake?
Using the right word correctly is part art and part science. Knowing the word’s definitions is a start.
Affect: transitive verb 1. simulate, as in “He affected a suave demeanor with his knowledge of lexicon usage.” 2. to show a liking for, as in “She affects huckleberry gelato.” 3. to tend by nature, as in “We read how the weather affects health.”4. to imitate or copy: “Spenser, in affecting the ancients, writ no language (Ben Jonson, Timber) 5.to have an influence on as in “The rain affects the tourist economy.” 6. to attack or infect, as in “Pollen can affect allergies in spring.”
Affect: noun 1. feeling or emotion, as in “The music was selected for its thrill of affect.”2. obsolete
Now that affect is squared away, let’s get effect squared away:
Effect: noun 1. a result, as in “Every negative comment has a lasting effect on the final vote.” 2. influence, as in “The child’s laughter had an immediate effect on the crowd.” 3. advantage, as in “The teacher used the rainbow as a positive effect of the rainstorm.” 4. a scientific law 5. a condition on full force, as in “The hands free cell phone policy goes into effect July 1.” 6. creating an impression, as in “The tall ceiling effects the sense of dimension.” 7. basic meaning, as in “He said he would never return, or words to that effect.”
Why are affect and effect confused and misused? For one, they sound the same and are nearly spelled the same. However, affect is a primarily a verb, while effect is primarily a noun (it can be used as a verb as in producing a result: “The change is primarily effected by the mixing of breeds.”
No wonder there is confusion. Try to remember if it is an action (affect/verb) or a noun (effect), as in “The abundant harvest affected the workers in a way of relieving them of worry for the upcoming winter, which created an lasting effect of peace and assurance.”
Affect/effect is a major contender for the confused and misused category. Here are a few other entries:
All right/Alright. All right is the correct and accepted spelling, at least formally. Some confusion may arise since words like, altogether and already are in use and accepted, which seems to clear the usage of alright—but it’s not correct. We don’t say “meese” for the plural of moose because we say geese for the plural of goose.
Blatant/Flagrant. These are not interchangeable. Blatant means noisy or fail to hide while flagrant focuses on the intended wrongdoing. While blatant is often used to mean “obvious,” this is not an accepted usage. The sentence, “Sam admitted to his blatant lie” should be changed to “Sam admitted to his flagrant lie” since flagrant refers to being offensive rather than it being unpleasantly loud. Although if Sam screamed his lie at the top of his lungs maybe it is a case for being a blatantly flagrant fib.
Capital is the official recognized city government.
Capitol is a building where the state legislature convenes.
Complement completes, as in “The added mushrooms complements the stew ingredients.”
Compliment is to praise, as in “The diner complimented the chef’s ability to create a sumptuous lamb stew by adding mushrooms.
A council is an assembly of people who deliberate, while counsel is advice. I imagine those involved in the council receive counsel regarding their decisions.
Fewer/less. Ah, the quick checkout dilemma. Fewer is used when counting things, as in “There were fewer than five pizza slices.” Less is used in reference to mass of measurable content, as in “There is less than a quart of ice cream left.” So when at the grocery store and you are looking to quickly checkout with your handful of items, select the line that has the sign stating, “15 items or fewer.”
PET PEEVE ALERT
A. Hopefully it won’t rain on Saturday’s picnic.”
B. “It’s hoped it won’t rain on Saturday’s picnic.”
Which is the correct sentence? If you chose B you would please the lexiconical folk. If you selected A, you are among the majority. While A is most frequently used, it is not considered acceptable by grammarians—not really clear on why, but as in the way of most of our language. Note:once it becomes widely used it becomes accepted, just look at how “their” is now embraced as a singular pronoun instead of a plural one. I had to finally let my teacher red ink dry on that one.
Inflammable/flammable both mean easily ignited. Nonflammable indicates not being able to catch on fire. Don’t let the “in” prefix fool you.
Irregardless—don’t go there. This is a blunder. It might be a blend of irrespective and regardless but it is nonstandard, so walk away. Stay with regardless.
UPDATE: Webster’s Dictionary has acquiesced and has recently added irregardless to the dictionary—I wonder if usage or peer pressure is the deciding factor.
Lay/Lie. Quick and easy: lay is a transitive verb and takes a direct object (noun) (think what was laid)—“He laid the letter (what) on the desk.”
Lies is an intransitive verb and does not take a direct object, as in “Auntie lies down after working in the garden.” There is no noun, direct object—lie is the stated verb of action. *Sigh* I’m still working on this one.
PET PEEVE ALERT
“I could literally scream until I am red in the face the way people pop literally into their sentences.“
Nope. Literally used as an intensive is incorrect since it means to be taken in truth. If I screamed until my face turned red I best be heading to the ER for a possible heart attack commencing, because that is a fairly intense reaction. I should be using virtually or figuratively instead. The next time you hear a sentence like, “I laughed so hard I literally thought my insides would burst” I suggest one of the above substitutes or maybe a dust pan.
And last of all is the old favorite: A principle is a statement or belief of truth and a principal is the leader of the school—think of him as your pal, who wants to impart truths while you are at school.
Hopefully this cleared up some of the confusion; irregardless if I muddled up the explanations, I literally tried so hard to make it clear that my brains nearly fried.
I wouldn’t lay, um, lie about my intended affect on your attaining greater knowledge.
[Ha—Wordpress has yet to perfect their auto correct].
This month we shall partake in enjoying learning about words that are about words or using words.
1. conlang: an artificially constructed language used by a group of speakers, as opposed to one that has naturally evolved–for example Klingon.
2. linguaphile: a language and word lover.
3. polysemy: a condition in which a single word, phrase, or concept has more than one meaning or connotation. For example, cleave means to separate and it can mean bring together. [semantics can be tricky on polysemic words]
4. sesquipededalian: given to long words.
5. epiphonema: a sentence that is an exclamation, a general or striking comment, or a succinct summary of what has previously been said.
6. contramine: a word that has opposite or nearly opposite meanings–let’s return to cleave, how it can mean “split” or “put together.”
7. breviloquent: speaking or expressed in a concise or terse style; brevity of speech.
8. quidnunc: a person who is eager to know the latest news and gossip; a gossip or busybody.
9. voluble: characterized by a ready and continuos flow of words.
10. lacuna: a gap or missing part, as in a manuscript, series, or logical argument.
Words about words. I love how sesquipededalian is the manifestation of its derivative. And what about quidnuc? Why doesn’t that one pop up more in more English village novels? I can’t help but be amused that breviloquent is not brief in formation. Definitely not a descriptive of Polonius. It’s also such a score to provide one exemplar twice, as in contramine and polysemy.
Which word is a standout for you?
Scrolling through my collection of gathered words I noticed several had a shared commonality with books, writing, or reading:
pseudepigraphy: attribution of authorship to a writer who did not write it; false inscription–usually refers to religious writings, as in biblical texts; however, fiction writers such as Nicholas Meyer who states he is the editor of memoirs of John Watson (who recounts cases of Sherlock Holmes).
fictioneer: a writer of fiction; a writer of mediocre fiction–does not sound like a compliment.
bibliophage: an avid reader–yup, although I just say I’m a Book Booster
donnish: bookish; pedantic–again, does not sound complimentary
wordie: someone enthusiastic about words–not to be confused with someone who is “wordy” (a talker of extreme verbosity)
sic: so; thus; as written–[sic] which usually means the writer is saying “that’s what they said; it’s not my mistake.
bromide: a trite saying or an aid to produce sleepiness–if a saying is boring enough I supposed someone would fall asleep
What words strike your fancy from this month’s list?
Ah, January. Mixed feelings about this calendar month. While I embrace turning the corner into a new year with all that freshness and anticipation that goes with flipping to a new date, I do not embrace how January in our parts is the “definitely winter is here” month. For instance:
A bit of the doldrums occur in January, what with the cold weather, shorter days, lack of landscape color, and growing stack of assignments to grade as the semester’s close approaches.
This month’s collection of words calls for amusing, or downright quirky lexicon.
1. pawky: cunning, sly
2. pettifog: to bicker or quibble over insignificant matters
3. jactation: boasting; bragging
4. fecund: creative intellectually
5. appellative: a descriptive name as Reepicheep the Valiant
6. orgulous: haughty; proud
7. remora: hindrance or obstacle
8. fulgrant: flashing like lightning
9. omphaloskepsis: contemplating one’s navel
10. daffing: merriment; playful behavior
Hmm, during the remainder of January I shall endeavor to be pawky in how to approach my doldrums in order to avoid fulgrant irritability that leads to pettifog since an abundance of snow is a remora to becoming fecund.Perhaps I shall become so stoic and earn an appellative name: Cricket the Winter Muse, then again that might entail jactation leading to an orgulous reputation. On the other hand excess winter could cause my resolve to slip into dithering and omphaloskepsis.
‘Tis December and 2019 is rapidly diminishing. Time to air out the Word Bin and see what needs clearing out to make room for next year’s batch of dictionary delights.
1. nugacity: triviality; insignificance
2. librate: to remain poised or balanced
3. neoteric: new or recent
4. facetiae: witty or amusing remarks or writing
5. obscurantism: the opposition of the spread of knowledge
6. anthophobia: an unnatural fear of flowers
7. frisson: a sudden thrill of emotion
8. guddle: to catch a fish with one’s hands in a river or stream
9. bombinate: to make a humming or buzzing noise
10. perspicacity: a keenness of mental perception
11. alameda: a public walk shaded with trees
12. otiose: indolent; idle; being at ease
13. Delphic: obscure; ambiguous
14. nebulated: having distinct markings as in a bird or animal
15. orgulous: haughty or proud
Now that the Word Bin is a bit tidier I look forward to filling it full once again. Honestly, I’m not sure how some of these words snuck into the company of the others. Guddle? Librate? Frisson? Not sure when those will come up in conversation. Then one never knows. Excuse me while I go chase down these liberated diction.
Come back…I didn’t mean it…