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Archive for September 2012

A Word A Day — bombinate

September 30, 2012

Word of the Day

  • bombinate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \BAHM-buh-nayt\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

: buzz, drone
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The only sounds Jared could hear in the office that night were those of his own typing and the air conditioner bombinating.

“Time passes in Suttree, but nothing and no one develops—excepting, perhaps, time itself in its running out. People fart around, they raise a little local hell, they marinate, they bombinate, they get carted off either to jail or to the morgue.” — From Peter Josyph's 2010 book Adventures in Reading Cormac McCarthy

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Bombinate” sounds like it should be the province of bombastic blowhards who bound up and bombard you with droning blather at parties—and it is. The word derives from the Greek word “bombos,” a term that probably originated as an imitation of a deep, hollow sound (the kind we would likely refer to as “booming” nowadays). Latin speakers rendered the original Greek form as “bombus,” and that root gave forth a veritable din of raucous English offspring, including not only “bombinate,” but also “bomb,” “bombard,” and “bound” (“to leap”). However, Latin “bombus” is not a direct ancestor of “bombastic,” which traces to “bombyx,” a Greek name for the silkworm.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — elegiac

September 29, 2012
Word of the Day
elegiac
audio pronunciation\el-uh-JYE-ak\
DEFINITION
adjective
1
a : of, relating to, or consisting of two dactylic hexameter lines the second of which lacks the arsis in the third and sixth feetb : of or relating to the period in Greece about the seventh century B.C. when poetry written in such couplets flourished
2
: of, relating to, or comprising elegy or an elegy; especially : expressing sorrow often for something now past
EXAMPLES
The editorial was an elegant, elegiac lament for the golden era of the author's long-ago past.

 “His speech was ruminative and elegiac, marking the closing of an era rather than the closing of a conference.” — From an article by Eitan Kensky in The Forward, May 15, 2012
DID YOU KNOW?
“Elegiac” was borrowed into English in the 16th century from the Late Latin “elagiacus,” which in turn derives from the Greek “elegeiakos.” “Elegeiakos” traces back to the Greek word for “elegiac couplet” or “elegy,” which was “elegeion.” It is no surprise, then, that the earliest meaning of “elegiac” referred to such poetic couplets. These days, of course, the word is also used to describe anything sorrowful or nostalgic. As you may have guessed, another descendant of “elegeion” in English is “elegy,” which in its oldest sense refers to a poem in elegiac couplets, and now can equally refer to a somewhat broader range of laments for something or someone that is now lost.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — dearth

September 28, 2012

Word of the Day

  • dearth
  • audio pronunciation
  • \DERTH\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: scarcity that makes dear; specifically : famine
2
: an inadequate supply : lack
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Teri had forgotten to bring a book, and the dearth of reading material in her uncle's house had her visiting the town library the first morning of her stay.

“This wryly funny take on the classic ghost story, with its tributes to horror thrillers from Halloween to Friday the 13th and rich cast of characters, has distinctive Tim Burton-esque visuals and a welcome dearth of potty humor.” — From a movie review by Claudia Puig in USA Today, August 17, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The facts about the history of the word “dearth” are quite simple: the word derives from the Middle English form “derthe,” which has the same meaning as our modern term. That Middle English form is assumed to have developed from an Old English form that was probably spelled “dierth” and was related to “dēore,” the Old English form that gave us the word “dear.” (“Dear” also once meant “scarce,” but that sense of the word is now obsolete.) Some form of “dearth” has been used to describe things that are in short supply since at least the 13th century, when it often referred to a shortage of food.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — festinate

September 27, 2012

Word of the Day

  • festinate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \FESS-tuh-nut\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

: hasty
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“I assure you,” said the Ambassador, “I am all too aware of the dangers inherent in a festinate decision.”

“Novell's proxy servers, caching and firewalls may not be such utter failures, but growth in crowded fields dominated by companies with better track records is just as illusory. Even successes like GroupWise, ManageWise and ZENworks are vestiges of 1990s thinking. They may halt a festinate death, but you don't build a company around them.” — From an article by Fritz Nelson in Network Computing, August 21, 2000

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Festinate” is one among many in the category of words whose first recorded use is in the works of Shakespeare (“Advise the Duke where you are going, to a most festinate preparation.” — King Lear, III.vii.10). Perhaps the Bard knew about “festinatus,” the Latin predecessor of “festinate,” or was familiar with the Latin proverb “festina lente”—“make haste slowly.” Shakespeare also gets credit for the adverb “festinately” (first seen in Love’s Labour’s Lost, III.i.6: “Bring him festinately hither.”), but another writer beat him to the verb “festinate” (pronounced \FESS-tuh-nayt\), meaning “to hasten.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

Andy Williams passes on leaving a legacy behind…

 

Good evening, Netizens…

 

If you happen to be one of my generation and a devoted fan of music, upon hearing the first words of Moon River, you automatically either hum along or sing the words of Johnny Mercer and the music of Henry Mancini. However despite the incredible compositional talents of these two greats of music in the 1960's, no one save for one, could claim they “owned” the song, and yesterday at age 89, Andy Williams, who made the song his own, succumbed to cancer, thus ending his illustrious career.

 

I admit I've been listening to Williams sing for over thirty years. Now I ask you, will Justin Bieber's music still haunt the airwaves in thirty years?

 

That question does pose itself in moments of reverie. Even Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix, both of whom succumbed to drug addiction, still are remembered for their incredible talents these many years later. How long will Bieber's music be remembered?

 

Dave

The gaffe on Monday Night Football lives on…

Good morning, Netizens…

I watched the Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks and despite the chaos at the end of the game, I admit a personal preference for Seattle, win, lose or draw. Until ESPN announcer John Gruden made an offer to jump out of the press box over the call by the temporary referees in the last seconds of the game, I could barely restrain myself from having a genuine gut-busting laugh over the outcome of the game.

There are some who will go to their graves debating whether the Seahawks scored a touchdown or were guilty of offensive pass interference. Green Bay Packers fans, of course, may have their own opinions of how things should have been called, because they lost the game because of the errant call on the field.

Either way, the Seahawks won the game by a very confusing ruling on the field by the temporary referees, and the entire collective view of Internet commenters set to howling like a pack of wolves in search of fresh game for dinner. Everyone, it seems, holds strongly-held opinions about the play call at the end of the gane, and they are not the least bit shy about expressing how they would have called the play were they in charge.

The ultimate judgment, which came later from the NFL matters most of all, when they stated, “The result of the game is final.”

Lest everyone lose sight of the purpose of Monday Night Football, that being it is entertainment, pure and simple and, for a moment there, I was entertained. As we enter the middle of the week, on this Wednesday morning, the national and regional news agencies are still playing the videos of the final play of the game. Ah, yes, the entertainment that continues to serve long past its usefulness.

Dave

A Word A Day — interrobang

September 26, 2012

Word of the Day

  • interrobang
  • audio pronunciation
  • \in-TAIR-uh-bang\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

: a punctuation mark ‽ designed for use especially at the end of an exclamatory rhetorical question
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The essay was peppered with interrobangs and exclamation points, communicating—intentionally or not—an incredulity and outrage that didn't feel very hospitable.

“Inevitably, however, you'll cheat on the Period with the Ampersand, Semi-Colon, or possibly the Interrobang.” — From an article by Jen Doll in the Atlantic Wire, August 21, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Most punctuation marks have been around for centuries, but not the interrobang: it's a product of the 1960s. The mark gets its name from the punctuation that it is intended to combine. “Interro” is from “interrogation point,” the technical name for the question mark, and “bang” is printers' slang for the exclamation point. The interrobang is not commonly used—its absence from standard keyboards can explain its paucity in print perhaps just as well as its paucity in print can explain its absence from standard keyboards. Most writers who want to communicate what the interrobang communicates continue to do as they did before the advent of the mark, throwing in !? or ?! as they feel so moved.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — hypothecate

September 25, 2012

Word of the Day

  • hypothecate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \hye-PAH-thuh-kayt\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

: to make an assumption for the sake of argument : hypothesize
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The students hypothecated that plants under observation would have different reactions when exposed to artificial light versus natural light.

“'Can someone hypothecate where Scotland and Yorkshire would rank in the medal table?' says Marie Meyer.” — From the (London) Guardian's Olympics 2012 live blog, August 5, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Hypothecate” is a controversial word. It has existed as a synonym of “hypothesize” since 1906, showing up primarily in scientific and linguistic sources, but usage commentators have long criticized it. It is sometimes perceived as a mistaken use of another “hypothecate,” one meaning “to pledge as security without title or possession.” Both “hypothecate” homographs—and “hypothesize” too—derive ultimately from the Greek “hypotithenai” (“to put under,” “to suppose,” or “to deposit as a pledge”), but each entered English by a different route. The hypothesizing “hypothecate” is a legitimate (albeit uncommon) word in its own right, not a misuse of its homograph. If you want to avoid the controversy altogether, however, you can stick with the more common “hypothesize.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — kitsch

September 24, 2012

Word of the Day

  • kitsch
  • audio pronunciation
  • \KITCH\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: something that appeals to popular or lowbrow taste and is often of poor quality
2
: a tacky or lowbrow quality or condition
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The “country store” seemed to sell mostly cheaply made kitsch and other tacky memorabilia.

“Across the board there was a welcome absence of kitsch.” — From a review by Guy Trebay in The New York Times, June 28, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“The fashionable clothing label … kicked off the revival last June…, putting its models in Miranda-inspired swimsuits and marching them through a gantlet of 50 tons of bananas,” writes Mac Margolis in Newsweek International (January 2006) of a fabulously kitschy gala commemoration for the late Brazilian singer and actress Carmen Miranda. Since we borrowed “kitsch” from German in the 1920s, it has been our word for things in the realm of popular culture that dangle, like car mirror dice, precariously close to tackiness. But although things that can be described with “kitsch” and the related adjective “kitschy” are clearly not fine art, they may appeal to certain tastes—some folks delight in velvet paintings, plastic flamingos, dashboard hula dancers, and Carmen Miranda revivals!

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — forsooth

September 23, 2012

Word of the Day

  • forsooth
  • audio pronunciation
  • \fer-SOOTH\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adverb

: in truth : indeed — often used to imply contempt or doubt
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“Yes, forsooth, I will hold my tongue; so your face bids me, though you say nothing.” — From Shakespeare's King Lear, Act I, Scene iv

Forsooth, your kids aren't into Shakespeare? They will be once they see the Rebel Shakespeare Company.” — From an article by Elizabeth Gehrman in The Boston Globe, April 22, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Although it is still a part of the English language, “forsooth” is now primarily used in humorous or ironic contexts, or in a manner intended to play off the word's archaic vibe. “Forsooth” is formed from the combination of the preposition “for” and the noun “sooth.” “Sooth” survives as both a noun (meaning “truth” or “reality”) and an adjective (meaning “true,” “sweet,” or “soft”), though it is rarely used by contemporary speakers. It primarily lives on in English in the verb “soothe” (which originally meant “to show, assert, or confirm the truth of”) and in the noun “soothsayer” (that is, “truthsayer”), a name for someone who can predict the future.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — emolument

September 22, 2012

Word of the Day

  • emolument
  • audio pronunciation
  • \ih-MAHL-yuh-munt\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

: the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

James has contributed countless volunteer hours to the organization and continues to refuse any emolument for his work.

“For her first six years Johnson, though serving full-time on the court with the same responsibilities and emoluments as her colleagues, was officially styled an appeal-court judge on permanent assignment upstairs.” — From an article by James Gill in the Times-Picayune (New Orleans), July 11, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“To Sir Thomas Williams Person of the Parish … of Saint Andrew at Baynards Castle in London for his yearly pension 40 shillings … in recompense of certain offerings, oblations, and emoluments unto the said benefice due….” Thus was recorded in “The Wardrobe Accounts of Edward the Fourth,” along with every expense of the realm, the first ever known use of “emolument.” By the year 1480, when that entry was made, Latin “emolumentum” had come to mean simply “profit” or “gain”; it had become removed from its own Latin predecessor, the verb “molere,” meaning “to grind.” The original connection between the noun and this verb was its reference to the profit or gain from grinding another's grain. (The notion of grinding away at our jobs didn't show up in our language until the 1800s.)

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — orphic

September 21, 2012

Word of the Day

  • orphic
  • audio pronunciation
  • \OR-fik\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: of or relating to Orpheus or the rites or doctrines ascribed to him
2
: of, relating to, being, or resembling an oracle : oracular, mystic
3
: fascinating, entrancing
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“'No summer ever came back, and no two summers ever were alike,' said I, with a degree of Orphic wisdom that astonished myself.” — From Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1852 novel The Blithedale Romance

“The cosmos itself reverberates through the orphic strings of the bridge's supporting cables, creating one song, one bridge of fire, linked to the stars themselves and to the deepest human desires for Cathay, meaning for Hart Crane perfection of place, fulfillment in the social order.” — From Kevin Starr's 2010 book Golden Gate: The Life and Times of America's Greatest Bridge

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Orpheus was a hero of Greek mythology who was supposed to possess superhuman musical skills. With his legendary lyre, he was said to be able to make even the rocks and trees dance around. In fact, when his wife Eurydice died, he was nearly able to use his lyre to secure her return from the underworld. Later on, according to legend, he was killed at the bidding of Dionysus, and an oracle of Orpheus was established that came to rival the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. Because of the oracle of Orpheus, “orphic” can mean “oracular.” Because of Orpheus' musical powers, “orphic” can mean “entrancing.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

The Pipefitter Queen…

Good morning, Netizens…

 

Earlier this week, beneath the glaring garage lights, my granddaughter gave me cause to ponder how time has changed. Once upon a time far distant in my past, as the owner of an auto repair facility, I was asked to teach a class in auto repair to a group of female prison inmates from a nearby state prison.

 

They were a gnarly bunch of women, although I was somewhat startled to discover several of them had healthy aptitudes for learning advanced auto repair, and within a matter of a month, my class had advanced far beyond the basics, and had acquired the skills of top-level mechanics. Mind you, the two top members of my class were doing time for serious felonies, and the question did cross my mind if, even with their considerable skills and aptitude, how many years it would be before they could once again walk free to apply for work.

 

I could not help but reflect upon this because, like my students years and years ago, my granddaughter, one of the loves of my life, apparently has the same intuition for learning what makes automobiles tick. Laying on the ground beneath a car, her hands blackened with grease, her nose smudged with grease and dirt, she appeared proud of her experience. I am reasonably certain that her mother would take a much different view of matters, because in her experience in life, young girls barely reaching puberty, have no business doing such things as playing at grease monkey.

 

I take it as a matter of personal pride that in the next generation, at least, there will be at least one young woman with a toolbox full of tools and the knowledge how to use them.

 

Are there jobs for such young women in the future? You betcha! According to national employment trends,m there are always jobs for mechanics who know how things work, regardless of whether they are male or female. Perhaps one of the best fictional portrayals I have ever read of such a future, The Milagro Beanfield War, featured a woman jack-of-all-trades named Ruby Archuletta known affectionately to her clientele as Ruby the Pipefitter Queen.

 

Perhaps my granddaughter may become a pipefitter queen of the next generation. Only time will tell.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — rebuff

September 20, 2012

Word of the Day

  • rebuff
  • audio pronunciation
  • \rih-BUFF\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

: to reject or criticize sharply
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

I offered my sister several helpful suggestions, but she rebuffed them all.

“A Nevada Legislative Committee studying the state's consolidated tax system agreed with its technical working group and rebuffed a request by the City of Fernley for a larger share of the C-Tax receipts that are given to Nevada counties, cities and special districts.” — From an article in the Reno Gazette-Journal, August 8, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Occurring frequently in news articles and headlines, “rebuff” derives (via Middle French “rebuffer”) from Old Italian “ribuffare,” meaning “to reprimand,” and ultimately from the imitative verb “buffare,” meaning “to puff.” (You might guess that the verb “buff,” meaning “to polish,” is a “buffare” descendant, but it is actually unrelated.) A similar word, “rebuke,” shares the “criticize” sense of “rebuff,” but not the “reject” sense (one can rebuke another's actions or policies, but one does not rebuke the advances of another, for example). Like “rebuke,” “rebuff” can also be used as a noun, as in “His proposal was met with a stern rebuff from the Board of Trustees.”

Read more at http://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day/#m2hGd2DxM1gIukml.99

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — tincture

September 19, 2012

Word of the Day

  • tincture
  • audio pronunciation
  • \TINK-cher\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: color, tint
2
a : a characteristic quality : case b : a slight admixture : trace
3
: a solution of a medicinal substance in an alcoholic solvent
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The herbalist offered to mix up a tincture that would cure Katie's headaches.

“A popular home-remedy suggestion making the rounds in Amish circles says a tincture of black walnut extract will cure what ails you, dentally speaking.” — From an article by Tom Knapp in Intelligencer Journal/New Era (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), August 13, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Tincture” derives from the same root as “tint” and “tinge”—the Latin verb “tingere,” meaning “to moisten or dip.” “Tincture” specifically derives via Middle English from the Latin “tinctus,” the past participle of “tingere.” When the word first appeared in English in the 14th century, “tincture” referred to a coloring matter or dye, but by the 17th century the word had acquired a number of additional meanings, including “a slight infusion or trace of something.” “Tinge” and “shade” are two other words referring to color that can be used the same way. “Tincture” can also refer, among other things, to the colors used in a coat of arms or an herbal or medicinal solution.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — volatile

September 18, 2012

Word of the Day

  • volatile
  • audio pronunciation
  • \VAH-luh-tul\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: readily vaporizable at a relatively low temperature
2
: tending to erupt into violence : explosive
3
: characterized by or subject to rapid or unexpected change
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The country's unsteady economy is due to volatile global markets and the new government's rash economic reforms.

“Beef prices, which are more volatile than food prices overall, will likely go down before they go up because farmers are finding it too expensive to feed some animals.” — From an article by Harold Brubaker and Jeff Gelles in The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 15, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Volatile” was originally for the birds—quite literally. Back in the 14th century, “volatile” was a noun that referred to birds (especially wild fowl) or other winged creatures, such as butterflies. That's not as flighty as it sounds. “Volatile” traces back to the Latin verb “volare,” which means “to fly.” By the end of the 16th century, people were using “volatile” as an adjective for things that were so light they seemed ready to fly. The adjective was soon extended to vapors and gases, and by the early 17th century, “volatile” was being applied to individuals or things as prone to sudden change as some gaseous substances. In recent years, “volatile” has landed in economic, political, and technical contexts far flown from its avian origins.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — futhark

September 17, 2012

Word of the Day

  • futhark
  • audio pronunciation
  • \FOO-thahrk\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

: any of several alphabets used by the Germanic peoples from about the 3d to the 13th centuries — called also the runic alphabet
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The people used futhark, which was divided into three families of eight signs each.

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The word “futhark” describes an alphabet originally of 24 and later of some 16 angular characters. It is suspected to be derived from both Latin and Greek and was used for inscriptions and magic signs by the Germanic peoples, and especially by the Scandinavians and Anglo-Saxons, from about the third to the 13th centuries. The spelling “futhark” is from the first six symbols of the runic alphabet: f, u, th, a, r, k. The alphabet did, however, encounter revision of letters over time resulting in the variants “futhorc” and “futhork.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — mercurial

September 16, 2012

Word of the Day

  • mercurial
  • audio pronunciation
  • \mer-KYUR-ee-ul\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: characterized by rapid and unpredictable changeableness of mood
2
: of, relating to, containing, or caused by mercury
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“Uncle Chris felt a touch of embarrassment. It occurred to him that he had been betrayed by his mercurial temperament into an attitude which, considering the circumstances, was perhaps a trifle too jubilant. He gave his moustache a pull, and reverted to the minor key.” — From P.G. Wodehouse's 1921 novel, Jill the Reckless

“The market, trendless and mercurial, had to digest conflicting news about the economy.” — From an Associated Press article by Christina Rexrode, August 9, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The Roman god Mercury (“Mercurius” in Latin) was the messenger and herald of the gods and also the god of merchants and thieves. (His counterpart in Greek mythology is Hermes.) He was noted for his eloquence, swiftness, and cunning, and the Romans named what appeared to them to be the fastest-moving planet in his honor. The Latin adjective derived from his name, “mercurialis,” meaning “of or relating to Mercury,” was borrowed into English in the 14th century as “mercurial.” Although the adjective initially meant “born under the planet Mercury,” it came to mean also “having qualities of eloquence, ingenuity, or thievishness attributed to the god Mercury or the influence of the planet Mercury,” and then “unpredictably changeable.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — quail

September 15, 2012

Word of the Day

  • quail
  • audio pronunciation
  • \KWAIL\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
: to give way : falter
2
: to recoil in dread or terror : cower
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Douglas quailed when the dentist told him that he would need a root canal.

“There's an already notorious scene in a bathtub, involving the extraction of toenails, which would send Mary Whitehouse quailing ashen-faced for the exit, if she'd even made it that far.” — From a film review by Tom Robey in The (London) Telegraph, November 17, 2011

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Flinch,” “recoil,” and “wince” are all synonyms of “quail,” but each word has a slightly different use. When you flinch, you fail to endure pain or to face something dangerous or frightening with resolution (“she faced her accusers without flinching”). “Recoil” implies a start or movement away from something through shock, fear, or disgust (“he recoiled at the suggestion of stealing”). “Wince” usually suggests a slight involuntary physical reaction to something (“she winced as the bright light suddenly hit her eyes”). “Quail” implies shrinking and cowering in fear (“he quailed before the apparition”).

Read more at http://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day/#GysRrOh8YYu7J2Vu.99

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — undulate

September 13, 2012

Word of the Day

  • undulate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \UN-juh-layt\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
: to form or move in waves : fluctuate
2
: to rise and fall in volume, pitch, or cadence
3
: to present a wavy appearance
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

From the window of our bed-and-breakfast, we had a gorgeous view of the green hills undulating into the distance.

“Seeded with drought-tolerant California native plants, the 1.5-acre surface gently undulates, mimicking the surrounding hillsides.” — From an article by Paul Sisson in the North County Times (Escondido, California), July 26, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Undulate” and “inundate” are word cousins, sharing “unda,” the Latin word for “wave,” as their common ancestor. No surprise there. But would you have guessed that “abound,” “surround,” and “redound” are also “unda” offspring? The connection between “unda” and these words is easier to see when you learn that at some point in their early histories each of them essentially had the meaning of “to overflow”—a meaning that “inundate” still carries, along with its “overwhelm” sense.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

Our potential new police chief

Good evening, Netizens…

 

For better or for worse, come October 1 we will have a new police chief here in our delightful little burgh. That is, as soon as Dr. Frank Straub completes his online training course, nine weeks to being a certified police officer in Washington State. Minor little detail, that. This dandy picture, shot by the Spokesman-Review's own Jim Camden, doesn't do Straub any great favors, especially the Walmart tie.

 

However, I am not going to disparage Dr. Straub. Rather, I will wait and see how he does in cleaning up the cesspool we have come to expect of the high-ranking officialdom of the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane Police Guild.

 

Dave

Free speech in Brigham City, Utah…

 

Good evening, Netizens…

 

Suffice it to say I have lived a portion of my life among various cults, including the Moonies and I include members of the Mormon religion among these groups. I would probably keep my opinion of their religion to myself were it not for Mitt Romney, a Mormon, who is dangerously close to becoming the next President of the United States, an event that I am diametrically opposed to. In the meantime we have the following news story from Brigham City, Utah on the Associated Press wire that bears some considerable thought:

 

BRIGHAM CITY, Utah (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah is suing the town of Brigham City, claiming it is squelching a non-denominational Christian church's free speech by limiting flier distribution near a Mormon temple.

Leaders of Main Street Church say they got a city permit to pass out literature during the temple's open house Aug. 18 to Sept. 15, but have been barred from staking out the two busiest sides of the building.

 “The overbreadth of Brigham City's 'Free Speech Zone' Ordinance is breathtaking,” said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah. “Under this ordinance, you would arguably have to apply for a permit to engage in nearly any speech in the city. The ordinance could be used to silence anyone, from two friends debating politics on the sidewalk to a missionary handing out fliers.”

A court hearing on the suit is set for Friday morning.

I can hardly wait to see who the Spokesman-Review recommends during the run-up to the Presidential election. As I have stated earlier, this upcoming election is both fascinating and frightening, depending upon which way the citizenry vote. From what I have read about the rules in Brigham City, Utah, it does seem as if you need a city-issued permit to hold a public gathering anywhere in their town, not just in front of the Mormon Temple. Of course your opinion(s) of such an ordinance may differ. Can they even do that? It depends, I guess, upon how well you are connected to the Mormon Church.

Dave

A Word A Day — peripatetic

September 12, 2012

Word of the Day

  • peripatetic
  • audio pronunciation
  • \pair-uh-puh-TET-ik\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: of or relating to the Greek philosopher Aristotle or his philosophy : Aristotelian
2
: of, relating to, or given to walking
3
: moving or traveling from place to place : itinerant
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

I was peripatetic throughout my twenties, but in my thirties I bought a house and began putting down roots in the community.

“From the day Rousseau turned his back on his native city, these peripatetic writer-thinkers were bent on walking into a kind of alienated individuality.” — From a book review by Billy Mills in Guardian Unlimited, August 9, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
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Are you someone who likes to think on your feet? If so you've got something in common with the followers of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. Not only a thinker and teacher, Aristotle was also a walker, and his students were required to walk along beside him as he lectured while pacing to and fro. Thus it was that the Greek word “peripatētikos” (from “peripatein,” meaning “to walk up and down”) came to be associated with Aristotle and his followers. By the way, the covered walk in the Lyceum where Aristotle taught became known as the “peripatos” (which can either refer to the act of walking or a place for walking).

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — stravage

September 11, 2012

Word of the Day

  • stravage
  • audio pronunciation
  • \struh-VAYG\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“I was living at Gray's Inn in those days, and we stravaged up Gray's Inn Road on one of those queer, unscientific explorations of the odd corners of London in which I have always delighted.” — From Arthur Machen's 1922 novella The House of Souls

“Eleanor sees widowed Lindsay and single-mother Paula stravaging along the streets with their respective children, Noah and Toby, and invites them in….” — From a book review by Lucille Redmond in the Evening Herald (Ireland), January 10, 2009

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

A synonym of “roam,” “wander,” and “ramble,” “stravage” (also spelled “stravaig”) isn't likely to pop up in your local newspaper—unless you're stravaging in Scotland or one of its neighbors. “Stravage” is not a new word; our earliest evidence of it dates to the late 18th century, when it likely developed by shortening and alteration from the now-archaic word “extravagate,” a synonym for “stray” and “roam” that can also mean “to go beyond proper limits.” Note that if you use it correctly, you won't be extravagating by using “stravage”—no matter where you call home.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — nuance

September 10, 2012

Word of the Day

  • nuance
  • audio pronunciation
  • \NOO-ahnss\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: a subtle distinction or variation
2
: a subtle quality : nicety
3
: sensibility to, awareness of, or ability to express delicate shadings (as of meaning, feeling, or value)
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The movie's dialogue didn't sound convincing, partly because none of the characters had mastered the nuances of a Midwestern accent.

“This Scavenger Hunt will be more difficult than earlier ones, and it is expected to bring you into some new corners. Sharp eyes are key, so if I were you, I'd start looking around now and memorizing every nuance in downtown Ocala.”— From an article by Dave Schlenker on Ocala.com (Florida), August 9, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The history of “nuance” starts in Latin with the noun “nubes,” meaning “cloud.” “Nubes” floated into Middle French as “nue,” also meaning “cloud,” and “nue” gave rise to “nuer,” meaning “to make shades of color.” “Nuer” in turn produced “nuance,” which in Middle French meant “shade of color.” English borrowed “nuance” from French, with the meaning “a subtle distinction or variation,” in the late 18th century. That use persists today. Additionally, “nuance” is sometimes used in a specific musical sense, designating a subtle, expressive variation in a musical performance (such as in tempo, dynamic intensity, or timbre) that is not indicated in the score.

Read more at http://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day/#VYs7J1ZiqczwuUs4.99

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — lugubrious

September 09, 2012

Word of the Day

  • lugubrious
  • audio pronunciation
  • \loo-GOO-bree-us\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: mournful; especially : exaggeratedly or affectedly mournful
2
: dismal
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Katie's friends guessed immediately from her lugubrious expression that she and her boyfriend had broken up.

“Then beneath that lugubrious lament comes a kind of gentle chugging rhythm, like the clickety-clack of a train, against which Sweeney thumbs his nose at the sentimentality established at the start of the song.” — From a review by Steven Leigh Morris in LA Weekly, June 14, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“It is a consolation to the wretched to have companions in misery,” wrote Publilius Syrus in the first century BC. Perhaps this explains why “lugubrious” is so woeful—it's all alone. Sure, we can dress up “lugubrious” with suffixes to form “lugubriously” or “lugubriousness,” but the word remains essentially an only child—the sole surviving English offspring of its Latin ancestors. This wasn't always the case, though. “Lugubrious” once had a linguistic living relative in “luctual,” an adjective meaning “sad” or “sorrowful.” Like “lugubrious,” “luctual” traced ultimately to the Latin verb “lugēre,” meaning “to mourn.” “Luctual,” however, faded into obsolescence long ago, leaving “lugubrious” to carry on the family's mournful mission all alone.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — gallant

September 08, 2012

Word of the Day

  • gallant
  • audio pronunciation
  • \GAL-unt\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: showy in dress or bearing : smart
2
a : splendid, stately b : spirited, brave c : nobly chivalrous and often self-sacrificing
3
: courteously and elaborately attentive especially to ladies
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The climbers made a gallant attempt but failed to reach the summit of the great mountain.

“Every year, crowds massed to watch a vivid reenactment of the 1777 Battle of Germantown, George Washington's gallant but failed attack on British troops holed up at Cliveden.” — From an article by Stephan Salisbury in The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 3, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

In the late 14th century, Middle English adopted “galaunt” (now spelled “gallant”) from Middle French “galant,” a participial form of the verb “galer,” meaning “to have a good time.” This origin is more apparent in the earliest uses of the English “gallant,” both as a noun meaning “a man of fashion” and as an adjective meaning “marked by show, color, smartness, or splendor especially in dress.” French “galer” is related to “gale” (“pleasure, merrymaking”) which has also entered the language, by way of Italian, as “gala” (“a festive celebration”). Middle English also had a noun “gale” which meant “singing, merriment, or mirth” (and is unrelated to the “gale” used to indicate a strong current of air) which may also have been related to Old French “gale.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

Amswers to the questions…

Good evening, Netizens…

 

I have given a great deal of thought to the Democratic National Convention, and I have reached a few conclusions that probably will not surprise anyone.

 

If you are a Republican stalwart, of course you eagerly chant the new party line of unity, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Of course you never stick around to listen to any answers you might receive from the Democratic stalwarts.

 

However, cartoonist David Horsey has kindly offered to answer the Republican question by selecting where on the planet the Republican Party asks their combative question. For example, if they were to ask the auto workers the question, given that less than four year ago they were about to be shut down for good, the answer provided by the Good Wrench Gang of General Motors would be quite in line with Horsey's cartoon, I would think.

 

Much the same can easily be said for Osama Bin Laden, whose remains now lay at the bottom of the sea somewhere. He unquestionably is not better off than he was living in luxury four years ago.

 

Are we better here in our little alcove in the Pacific Northwest? I believe that answer lies within each of us, to be answered within ourselves and not by an pollsters in some air conditioned office far, far away.

 

However, we may revisit this and other questions once Romney and Obama debate head-to-head. That promises to be a delightful fracas, which might actually answer the Republican question once and for all. Of course, your results may differ entirely.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — jocose

September 07, 2012

Word of the Day

  • jocose
  • audio pronunciation
  • \joh-KOHSS\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

1
: given to joking : merry
2
: characterized by joking : humorous
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Rachel has the kind of jocose personality that can liven up even the dullest of parties.

“The information imparted doesn't run particularly deep, but in simple, mostly jocose language, he manages to explain the Electoral College, the dangers of being president and … the roles of the president in foreign policy and as commander in chief, and how a presidential pardon works….” — From a book review in Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

When you need a word to describe something (or someone) that causes or is intended to cause laughter, you might pick “jocose” or a synonym such as “humorous,” “witty,” “facetious,” or “jocular.” Of those terms, “humorous” is the most generic and can be applied to anything that provokes laughter. “Witty” suggests cleverness and a quick mind, while “facetious” is a word for something that is not meant to be taken seriously. “Jocose” and “jocular” both imply a habitual waggishness and a fondness for joking.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — gainsay

September 06, 2012

Word of the Day

  • gainsay
  • audio pronunciation
  • \gayn-SAY\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

1
: to declare to be untrue or invalid
2
: contradict, oppose
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

There is no doubt that their work makes a useful contribution, but it does not provide enough evidence to gainsay the conclusions of earlier scholars.

“And there was something childlike about Griffith, too, even in his Matlock days, as a deceptively sharp 'simple country lawyer,' a big-kid boyishness that did not mask his intelligence or gainsay his authority.” — From an obituary for Andy Griffith in the Post & Courier (Charleston, South Carolina), July 7, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

You might have trouble figuring out “gainsay” if you're thinking of our modern “gain” plus “say.” It should help to know that the “gain-” part is actually related to “against”—specifically the Old English word for “against”: “gēan-.” From that came Middle English “gain-,” which was joined with “sayen” (“say”) to form “gainsayen,” the Middle English predecessor of “gainsay.” So when you see “gainsay,” think “say against” — that is, “deny” or “contradict.”

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

Take me out to the ball game..,.

Good morning, Netizens…

 

Can you imagine Michelle Obama as a baseball pitcher for a major league baseball team? Instead of the sleek form-fitting silk dress she wore last night before the Democratic National Convention, she might show up sporting a baseball uniform and packing a baseball glove as she strides confidently to the pitcher's mound. The crowd stands and gives out a round of applause as she begins her warm-up pitches. Hot dogs and beer are served in the box seats and the crowd whips out her stat sheets to see if she can single-handedly retire the opposition's side.

 

It's not that far off, folks. It was, after all, a pitching duel between Michelle Obama and Ann Romney from day one.

 

The only thing that has been missing from this play on words is a chaw of tobacco, which neither person would tolerate in real life, and perhaps the physical difference between the two women. After all, Michelle Obama handily won a push-up contest. Did Ann Romney ever do that?

 

I'm not going to disparage either political party at this point in time, other than to point out that, despite what appearances might be, both Mrs. Obama and Romney have each had their chance to pitch their beliefs before their national political conventions, and each have thrown the requisite number of strike-outs and dud pitches.

 

What is an interesting thought is that perhaps President Obama is being brought in late in the game of politics to make a few pitches of his own. I will only add that this might be an interesting ball game, perhaps extra innings, and we probably won't know the final score until November. Please pass me the popcorn.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — inimitable

September 05, 2012

Word of the Day

  • inimitable
  • audio pronunciation
  • \in-IM-it-uh-bul\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

: not capable of being imitated : matchless
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

“He is involved in roughly six projects, most of them part time and some dormant. Each is different from the others and to each, say those who work with him, he adds something inimitable.” — From an article by Timothy Finn in the Kansas City Star, July 18, 2012

“For decades after '60 Minutes' launched in 1968, Wallace was arguably the best-known news figure on television, after Walter Cronkite. Wallace was to 'the interview' what Cronkite had been to the anchor chair—an authority figure with an inimitable style that was both aggressive and seductive.” — From an article by Verne Gay in Newsday (Long Island, New York), April 9, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

Something that is inimitable is, literally, not able to be imitated. In actual usage the word describes things so uniquely extraordinary as to not be copied or equaled, which is why you often hear it used to praise outstanding talents or performances. (The antonym “imitable” describes things that are common or ordinary and could easily be replicated or surpassed.) “Inimitable” derives via Middle English from Latin “inimitabilis.” Be careful not to confuse it with “inimical” or “inimicable,” two adjectives meaning hostile or harmful; those words derive from the same Latin root that gave us “enemy” (“inimicus”).

Read more at http://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day/#QY67jcaAIxemBGR0.99

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — ecstatic

September 04, 2012

Word of the Day

  • ecstatic
  • audio pronunciation
  • \ek-STAT-ik\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adjective

: of, relating to, or marked by rapturous delight
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

Naomi's face was ecstatic as she accepted first prize in the essay contest.

“Jordan Staal would much rather play with his brother than against him. Traded on his wedding day in June, he became teammates with older brother Eric Staal on the Carolina Hurricanes. 'We knew the family thing was a very intriguing part of this whole thing,' Jordan said Friday at a press conference, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. '… As a family, for me and Eric especially, we're ecstatic to have this come together as it did.'” — From an article on NHL.com, July 27, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Ecstatic” has been used in our language since at least 1590, and the noun “ecstasy” is even older, dating from the 1300s. Both derive from the Greek verb “existanai” (“to put out of place”), which was used in a Greek phrase meaning “to drive someone out of his or her mind.” That seems an appropriate history for words that can describe someone who is nearly out of his or her mind with intense emotion. In early use, “ecstatic” was sometimes linked to mystic trances, out-of-body experiences, and temporary madness. Today, however, it most typically implies a state of enthusiastic excitement or intense happiness.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — caduceus

September 03, 2012

Word of the Day

  • caduceus
  • audio pronunciation
  • \kuh-DOO-see-us\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

noun

1
: the symbolic staff of a herald; specifically : a representation of a staff with two entwined snakes and two wings at the top
2
: an insignia bearing a caduceus and symbolizing a physician
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The U.S. Army Medical Corps chose the caduceus as its symbol in 1902.

“Since then the politics of health care have grown more twisted and tangled than the two snakes entwined around the staff in a caduceus, which is sometimes used as a symbol of medicine.” — From an article by Michael Cooper in The New York Times, February 15, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

The Greek god Hermes, who served as herald and messenger to the other gods, carried a winged staff entwined with two snakes. The staff of Aesculapius, the god of healing, had one snake and no wings. The word ''caduceus,” from Latin, is a modification of Greek “karykeion,” from “karyx,” meaning “herald.” Strictly speaking, “caduceus” should refer only to the staff of the herald-god Hermes (Mercury to the Romans), but in practice the word is often applied to the one-snake staff as well. You might logically expect the staff of Aesculapius to be the symbol of the medical profession—and indeed, that is the symbol used by the American Medical Association. But you will also quite frequently see the true caduceus used as a medical symbol.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

The price of war…

Good evening, Netizens…

 

I've read one hell of a lot of comments and blogs over the last 48 hours about Clint Eastwood's diatribe spoken before the Republican National Convention, some good, some irreverent and some only marginal. Having read a lot of texts of the various speeches given before the august body of the convention, until last night, something had been nagging at the corner of my mind like an unwanted, unannounced relative who has showed up at a family gathering without bringing a crumb, but pigging out on all the good desserts and then leaving.

 

No one, except Eastwood, even mentioned the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Condoleezza Rice, who I believe helped craft the war during the Bush administration, never said a word about it, or maybe she is just heavily into denial for Mitt's sake. Ron Paul mentioned it, but he wasn't allowed to speak to the delegates of the convention, although he did speak at an arena he rented across town.

 

Bringing us up to current, for what it is worth, I cannot understand the logic when Romney spoke today of a new agenda of a “winning season” but no details of how we are going to win, either at war or the battle of the budget. Oh. Somebody forgot to tell the members of either party how much of our national budget is being spent every time we ship one of our soldiers home in a box from Afghanistan, didn't we? Perhaps instead of either political party using their big LED sign showing the rising national debt, somewhere someone should post an equally big sign showing how much the War in Afghanistan is costing Americans. We don't even have to throw in the accumulated debt from other countries to make the total appear utterly depraved and sickening.

 

So perhaps Clint Eastwood was very close to the truth when he suggested we bring our soldiers home from Afghanistan tomorrow morning. Suddenly that was not so funny, after all.

 

Dave

A Word A Day — wend

September 02, 2012

Word of the Day

  • wend
  • audio pronunciation
  • \WEND\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

verb

: to direct one's course : travel, proceed
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The hikers wended through the forest's trails.

“Improvements in wastewater treatment and conservation upgraded the water quality of the river, which wends its way nearly 500 miles from its origin in the Appalachian Plateau to Point Lookout, Maryland, where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay.” — From an article by John Pekkanen in The Washingtonian, July 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Wend” is related to the verb “wind,” which means, among other things, “to follow a series of curves and turns.” It is also a distant relative of the verb “wander.” “Wend” itself began its journey in Old English as “windan,” meaning “to twist.” “Wend” has twisted itself into various meanings over the years. Most of its senses—including “to come about,” “to depart,” “to change,” and “to betake”—have since wandered off into obscurity, but its current sense of “to direct or to proceed” is holding steady on the path.

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

A Word A Day — aborning

September 01, 2012

Word of the Day

  • aborning
  • audio pronunciation
  • \uh-BOR-ning\
  • DEFINITION
  •  

adverb

: while being born or produced
  • EXAMPLES
  •  

The bill was introduced in the Senate last year, but it died aborning.

“We've all put aside the social task that we wanted to take the time to do well, postponed the email that should be long and full, only to realize we never did it at all. The dashed-off note that gets sent is preferable to the heartfelt missive that dies aborning.” — From Emily Yoffe's Dear Prudence column on Slate.com, May 3, 2012

  • DID YOU KNOW?
  •  

“Aborning” is a native of U.S. soil; its arrival is marked in the early 20th century dialect of the rural South, and it quickly found its way to the crowded cities and towns of the industrial north. (We don't know exactly when it was conceived, but it came to the attention of the editors at Merriam-Webster in 1916.) “Aborning” combines the prefix “a-,” meaning “in the process of,” and “borning,” a dialectal word meaning “birth.” “Borning” itself is simply the gerund, or noun form, of the verb “born,” a term that was used by, among others, William Faulkner: “The talk … went here and there about the town, dying and borning again like a wind or a fire” (Light in August, 1932).

From Merriam-Webster Online at www.Merriam-Webster.com.

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