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Wordkeeper
31.1.04
 
Word of the Day #18
houghmagandy

Nicked from the Weird Words section of World Wide Words.
30.1.04
 
Thanks!
A big "thank you" to Madeleine Kane and her humour blog, MadKane, for having Wordkeeper in her "Regular Reads" links list. We are truly honoured.
 
Friday afternoon special #2 - Phrase of the Day
curate's egg

This is strictly a British/Aussie/maybe Canadian expression, and only people of a certain age (over 30, at least) and sub-culture (pseuds? no, that's not quite fair) would use it. I saw it twice in the Guardian today, however, so I decided to "honour" it.

Explanation from Q & A, World Wide Words, by Michael Quinion.
29.1.04
 
Word of the Day #17
psychopomp

Definition from Dictionary.com.
 
Someone else's diction rant
Mark Kleiman has a campaign going against "the -ness monsters".
28.1.04
 
Word of the Day #16
herrison



This is the heraldic term for a hedgehog. Unfortunately, due to the vagaries of search engines and the overwrought webpage design of most heraldry sites, I cannot provide a direct and succinct link to a definition, so you will have to take my word for it. The herrison is sometimes used as a device for families named Herrison, Harrison or Harris. The Latin name for the animal is ericus and the old English name is urcheon, so it can be called either of these, as well as hedgehog or, erroneously, porcupine.
27.1.04
 
Word of the Day #15
oriflamme

Found in Foucault's Pendulum, but any SCAdians may know this already. Definition from Roget's Thesaurus, via bartleby.com.
 
Another change of tack for word of the day
OK, I just couldn't find enough interesting words having to do with the internet or technology. So I am taking a whole new direction. I am at the moment re-reading an old favourite book, Foucault's Pendulum. I am inspired to do a series on archaic words, things having to do with heraldry, medieval warfare, ecclesiastical terms, alchemy, magick, mysticism and monastic orders. And any other quaint olde things. I'll just do that until I run out of ideas.
 
Oops, my bad!
I know all my friends in America think I am being pretentious. Because I may live here but I AM an American. But seriously, guys, it's not pretention, it's practicality, it's necessity. You have to spell things correctly for the country you live in, especially if you write for your job. I write technical specs, test plans, project plans, memos, minutes, manuals and lots of e-mails at work. And I'm sorry but I can't switch to American spelling because I am writing an e-mail to a friend or family member "back home". I must be consistent. So I blog British. That's why I was mortified to see that I had slipped up and violated my own consistency rule by spelling "defence" as "defense". That is the hardest British spelling anomaly for me to remember: the defence/offence thing. I am going to correct it now so you won't see it . . .
26.1.04
 
Word of the Day #14
aibohphobia

Before you look at the link below, you really should give a shot at guessing what this word means. If you do guess it, please leave a tag board message so the world will know your awesome cleverness. (No fair if you already know.)

Give up? You'll kick yourself! It's here in this list of phobias.
25.1.04
 
Word of the Day #13
oblation; oblate

The 1911 encyclopedia defines both words, with some history as well as current usage.
24.1.04
 
Word of the Day #12
hypercorrection

One of my big grammatical bugbears, and one the English are far more guilty of than the Americans. No one in this country ever says "between you and me" (except me, of course) and sometimes they even say [shudder] "between you and myself".

Explained succinctly at bartleby.com.
23.1.04
 
Friday afternoon special #1 - Phrase of the Day
Bob's your uncle

From the now defunct "word of the day" feature at Words@Random. Also includes a bonus etymology of "nepotism".

The original "Bob" who was the uncle of some lucky chap.


22.1.04
 
Word of the Day #11
shibboleth

Borrowed from Merriam-Webster Word of the Day archives.

This is also the title of my favourite episode of The West Wing.
21.1.04
 
IT Sniglets
A list of selected IT-related sniglets

My favourites:
blamestorming - sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible
execuglide - to maneuver oneself around the room while seated in a wheeled office chair
percussive maintenance - the fine art of whacking the crap of of an electronic device to get it to work again
WAPathy - lack of interest in wireless technology
 
Notes on Words of the Day
Or should that be Words of the Days? Yes, I think so. Anyway, I noticed that I am sort of alternating between featuring a word from the world of internet technology and a word from the rest of the world. And a lot of the rest of the world words have a literary, classical or mythological slant to them. I will probably continue to do that until I get tired of it. (Which could be tomorrow).
 
Word of the Day #10
wiki

I had quite a lot of trouble finding a definition of "wiki". I suspected it to be an acronym but none of the (very few) sites that actually defined the term mentioned it. Then when I finally found a definition, it was more of a treatise, and it said that wiki was short for wikiwikiweb, "wiki wiki" being Hawaiian for "very fast". OK

Not surprisingly, this heroic definition was found in Wikipedia.

 
The Ten Mistakes
The Ten Mistakes Writers Don't See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do) from Holt Uncensored, a semi-monthly webzine about books and writing. This list could also be called the 10 common problems that dismiss you as an amateur, according to its writer, although he then goes on to use well-known, best-selling authors as examples of the bad as well as the better.
20.1.04
 
Defence of my diction rant
Nobody has actually responded to my diction rant, below. Not that I expect anyone to; this blog is very new and not attracting any attention yet. But I have big plans for you, little blog. Meanwhile, I have anticipated negative responses that might have been, based on historical reactions to some of my face to face rants and ramblings about the debasement of the language.

1. diffuse – the criticism is that this is a tragic story, and in itself so much more important than mere words. Mere words! Bite your foul tongue. Let me say this: if I were the person whose molecules and lifeblood had been diffused through the surrounding air because a bomb was not defused, and then after my demise I were to find (and I can say this, since I believe the consciousness persists after death) that the memorial of my passing was defaced, spoiled, contaminated by a gross, ignorant misuse of the “mere” words that were almost all that was left to perpetuate my memory, I would be really p*s*ed off! I mean really. It would be like someone mooned the choir and farted at the congregation at my funeral. It is especially because the story it was in was vitally important, at least to someone, that the words should be chosen with care, conscientiously edited, and truly set forth. OK, I admit, and I am not ashamed to admit, I am like this about everything. I want all the sums to add up, all the percentages to be calculated to the required decimal places, all the words spelled correctly, all the sentences parsed, all the definitions to match the intended meanings, all the forks on the left, all the glasses to be spotless, all the colours to be coordinated, and all the children, without exception, to be above average. You can call me trivial if you like. You may say I have the mind of a shallow and foolish woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a pedant, and a pedant of English, too.

2. coruscating – the anti-pedants say ‘the dictionary just records current usage; it doesn’t dictate. If the people want “coruscating” to assume the old meaning of “excoriating”, so what?’ I’ll tell you so what : what about the meaning of “coruscating”? how is that now to be conveyed? This is no trivial point. The true meaning of “coruscating” is one of those hidden wonders of the English language. Without it, how can we communicate the vision of a waterfall, the glint and shine of a ceramic vase, the captivation of a silver lamé gown, the delightful sound of a passage of music or a bubbly light laugh, the sparkle of a witty conversation, the dazzling brilliance of an argument, the shocking cascade of the stolen gems to the floor when the clever detective slits the hem of the fingersmith’s velvet gown? Yes, we have the words waterfall, cascade, glint, silver, brilliance, dazzling, sparkle, arpeggio, faceted and shimmering. But we have only this one irreplaceable word that links them all together and, even more astonishingly, is itself a coruscating cascade of beautiful images. I, for one, cannot bear for English to lose this word, or any other word that so contributes to its rich nuance and precision and poetic possibilities.
 
Word of the Day #9
irenic

From Dictionary.com

19.1.04
 
Word of the Day #8
meme

a unit of contagious information

What is a meme?

Dictionary.com
18.1.04
 
Myself, a poem
This is a short metaphysical poem describing some of the pitfalls on the path to enlightenment.
 
Word of the Day #7
eolipile or aeolipile or aeolipyle

BrainyDictionary
17.1.04
 
Word of the Day #6
katabasis

a retreat, as in a military sense

WordReference.com Dictionary
16.1.04
 
Word of the Day #5
recondite

Merriam-Webster OnLine
15.1.04
 
Word of the Day #4
philippic

From Tiscali Reference - Dictionary of Difficult Words

From Random House The Maven's Word of the Day

A Simple Desultory Philippic (Simon and Garfunkel)
(Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd into Submission)
I been Norman Mailered, Maxwell Taylored.
I been John O'Hara'd, McNamara'd.
I been Rolling Stoned and Beatled till I'm blind.
I been Ayn Randed, nearly branded
Communist, 'cause I'm left-handed.
That's the hand I use, well, never mind!
I been Phil Spectored, resurrected.
I been Lou Adlered, Barry Sadlered.
Well, I paid all the dues I want to pay.
And I learned the truth from Lenny Bruce,
And all my wealth won't buy me health,
So I smoke a pint of tea a day.
I knew a man, his brain was so small,
He couldn't think of nothing at all.
He's not the same as you and me.
He doesn't dig poetry. He's so unhip that
When you say Dylan, he thinks you're talking about Dylan Thomas,
Whoever he was.
The man ain't got no culture,
But it's alright, ma,
Everybody must get stoned.
I been Mick Jaggered, silver daggered.
Andy Warhol, won't you please come home?
I been mothered, fathered, aunt and uncled,
Been Roy Haleed and Art Garfunkeled.
I just discovered somebody's tapped my phone.

14.1.04
 
Word of the Day #3
malapropism

From Wikipedia
13.1.04
 
Diction rant
This isn't a grammar rant; it's a diction rant. I am compiling a document called Modern Malaprops, full of all the misused and abused English words that I see and hear in the media and in modern discourse. This is a growing, living document, but I am going to share it here from time to time. Here's what I have so far:

Modern Malaprops
NB: almost all of these were found in Britain, and in respected news media, or were uttered by highly educated people (MPs, academics, etc.)


Incorrect usage - word or phrase homonyms
In the throws of
According to Fahnestock, his daughter was critically injured in Fallujah when she approached a bomb on a telephone pole and it exploded before she could diffuse it.
Site-seeing
Chairman John McClelland insists plans to reign in the club’s troubled finances are well on course.

Made up words
Skiddish (skittish)

Incorrect meaning of word or wrong context
coruscating” when “scathing” or “excoriating” is the meaning (numerous examples, almost all in the Guardian, whose own online style guide explains the correct usage of the word.)

Inappropriate modifiers or “just plain awkward”
amazingly, by getting rid of Saddam, the Americans have seamlessly given birth to Islamic fundamentalists. (ed.- far more amazing than giving birth with seams to Islamic fundamentalists?)

Being completely oblivious to stupid cliches
. . . at the end of the day, in the morning when children come to school . . .” (then Minister for Education Estelle Morris)
The question now is : how will Jackson, one, cope with it, and two, deal with it?” (a Sky News reporter covering the Michael Jackson trial for child molestation)
 
Word of the Day #2
phishing

From the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary
phishing /f/ noun [U] the activity of tricking people by getting them to give their identity, bank account numbers, etc. over the Internet or by email, and then using these to steal money from them: Phishing often involves sending customers an apparently legitimate email requesting account information. The bank’s clients were lured to a phishing site and asked to provide their personal details and account numbers. a phishing attack/scam/email
12.1.04
 
Word of the Day #1
costive Can mean (1) stingy or mean, (2) reserved OR (3) constipated.

Webster's 1913 Dictionary
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.


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