Word Hoard

Monday, November 12, 2007

Henry Rollins

I was just watching an interview he did with Don Cheadle talking about a Miles Davis project. Rollins rhymed biopic with myopic. Cheadle has said the same word a couple times now, make that three with the joining of bio- and -pic.


Saturday, November 03, 2007


This morning my sister, who works nights and gets off work at 6:30 am, and I (who doesn't and normally goes to work at 8:30 am) went to the 50th annual Kiwanis Pancake Festival at the Pershing Center in Lincoln. It started at 7 and we were there shortly after. It really was a jentacular meal.

Jentacular is an adjective that means pertaining to breakfast and comes from the Latin jentare - to breakfast.

I love that this word exists and even more that I will work it into my lexicon.

The -tacular suffix reminds me of a use I've been seeing with more frequency: craptacular. Keep an eye out for this one. I don't think we really need to encourage this portmanteau of crap and spectacular.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Put these five words in order of importance in the British hierarchy:

viscount, marquis, earl, duke, baron

I think peerage is an interesting word to describe a ranking system. It comes from Latin par equal via French per. So a word meaning equal groups five rankings.

Answers below:

Peerage 2

I was going through my bedside dictionary (Webster's 7th New Collegiate 1965) probably looking up naughty, from naught/nothing. As my eyes are wont, they caught notice of marquess or (marquis). It comes from Middle French ultimately from marche--march. It means 1 a nobleman of hereditary rank in Europe and Japan and, for our purposes, 2 a member of the second grade of the peerage in Great Britain ranking below a duke and above an earl. So the first bit is filled out. Which word is penultimate?

Earl comes from Old English eorl warrior, nobleman "akin to Old Norse jarl warrior, nobleman. It is defined only as a member of the third grade of the British peerage ranking below a marquess and above a . . .

Viscount comes from Latin vicecomes vice + comes count (comes from companion, one of the imperial court, from com + ire to go. It means, as you would expect, a member of the peerage in Great Britain ranking below an earl and above a baron.

Baron is from Old French of Germanic origin "akin to Old High German baro freeman."

And to close things out dukeis from Latin ducere to lead.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


In addition to the start of the American football season, the International Rugby Board (IRB) is staging the Rugby World Cup in France. Rugby is among my favorite sports to watch, so I took advantage of the DirecTV free preview weekend and then ordered Setanta, the station that carries rugby, Australian Rules Football, and the various soccer leagues.

Having watched a bunch of the Six Nations matches a couple years ago, I am getting more familiar with the jargon.

My favorite from the commentators is the use of "pace" for speed. "Mauger has the pace to get the try."

A try is rugby's touchdown and more literally so. You have to touch the ball down, just crossing the try line won't do it.

The competition between two teams is a test, and like soccer, it takes place on a pitch.

Instead of out of bounds, the ball is "in touch."

And then there are the various masses of men, the maul, ruck and scrum.

A maul is when the player with the ball is stopped by the opponent, but not tackled to the ground, and then supported by a teammate. The three players are now a maul and any players joining the maul cannot enter from the side, or they will be penalised.

A ruck is when the player with the ball is tackled to the ground and must relinquish the ball. Opposing players lock above the ball, and you have your ruck.

A scrum is when each teams 8 forwards lock and meet and one team's scrum half releases the ball into their half of the scrum where it is then kicked to the back.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Homeward, Bound

This morning at work, I was laying out 23 boxes that were headed to Grizzly Flats, CA for a convention and our IT guy, Brent, on his way through joked that I was setting up an obstacle course. Drawing on our common love of football, I told him about a TV bit on Brian Urlacher's off-season workout and some plyometrics where he was bounding up three foot steps one leg at a time.

This brought bound to my mind. Like fast and cleave it is a word that carries opposite meanings within itself. This morning, I was only thinking of the past tense of bind and to move with energy. But tonight, with my nightcap ala mode (Ivanna Cone and their dictionary)I was reminded of the directional and border senses.

The etymology I want to hone in on is that of the directional sense. OED:

bound adj. Orig. boun. ME.
[Old Norse buinn pa. pple of bua prepare, -d partly euphonic, partly infl. by next: cf. BOUN verb.]
1 Ready, prepared; attired. ME-M19
2 Ready to start or having set out (for, on, to); moving in a specified direction. LME
3 About to do, going to do, north. M19

What I love about the word's history is that is keeps getting bigger (increasingly "attired" if you will). It started as bua then added some letters in its past participle form. I don't know if there was an English form of bua or if they just borrowed buinn, but it seems that we only like the completed form of prepare, which says something about our culture.

In other news, tonight in the aforementioned perusal of Ivanna Cone's dictionary I came to the realization that arabesque means Arab-like. I don't know how that flew under my radar previously, but it did.

In my other blog I'm collecting dog names. I met a black cockerpoo born around the fourth of July in 2006 named Stalker.

Monday, August 13, 2007

How Would You Like To Be Labeled?

There is a local haberdasher in Lincoln, Gary Michaels' Clothiers, that sells suits and such. They have radio commercials in which they list a bunch of name brands, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Izod, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein etc. and at the end of the commercial, they say "How do you want to be labeled?" I want to be labeled in good words:

erudite, severe, polymath,
cineast, stalworth, sapid;
with: sprachgefuhl, aplomb;
jocund, meliphpagous, couth,
gastronome, trencherman, clement,
latitudinarian, daedal, toothsome,

and last but not least--thelyphthoric

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ahn. Sale. Byatt

girning, noisome, gorse, afrit

So I'm reading Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye, a collection of five tales (fairy and otherwise) by A.S. Byatt. She has some well placed words. Here are a few I've noticed so far.

Afrit: variant of afreet, a powerful jinnee in Arabian stories and Muslim mythology.

Girning [Chiefly Scot. & north. Also gurn] metath. alt. of grin: 1 Show the teeth in rage, pain, disappointment, etc.; snarl LME 2 Show the teeth in laughing; grin M16 3 Whine, complain; be fretful or peevish E18 4 Distort the features; pull a hideous face L18

Gorse [Old English gors, gorst, from Indo-European base meaning 'rough, prickly', repr. in Latin hordeum barley, rel. to Old High German gersta (German Gerste) barley.]: Any of several spiny yellow-flowered leguminous shrubs of the genus Ulex, characteristic of heathy places. Also called furze, whin.

Noisome [from noy (aphet. of annoy, Latin in odio est it is hateful to me) + some]: 1 Harmful, noxious LME2 Disagreeable, unpleasant, offensive; evil-smelling. LME 3 Annoying, troublesome. rare M16-M17.

In other news, I went to a Squirrel Nut Zippers concert in Des Moines at the Hoyt Sherman Place. As many historical buildings and societies are wont, they have a plaque on the wall with names of donors grouped according to the amount of donation. It has been my experience that the PR/Fundraising department tries to have the levels of donation relate to the organization. I didn't notice, or pay attention to the lower levels, but the top donation level was Proscenium. If I'd seen this word before, I still didn't know what it meant.

Proscenium: 1 a CLASSICAL ANTIQUITIES. The performance area between the background and the orchestra of a theatre; the stage. E17 b The part of the stage of a modern theatre between the curtain or drop-scene and the auditorium, often including the curtain itself and the enclosing arch

I guess stage would have been too simp


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Pleased to Meat You.

I'm sorry that it has been over two months since I posted something new here.

The other day I got three different word-a-day emails that mentioned meat. Fricassee, Gallimaufry, and Offal.

Fricassee probably comes from French for to fry and to break up/shake.

Gallimaufry now means hodge-podge or jumble, but the French is a ragout or sauce. I like Bartleby.com's allusion to a wide open merry mouth. Forget comfort food; they're making happy food. Gallimaufry, the original happy meal.

Offal isn't that glamorous, but that fits its purpose. It comes from "fall off." Who needs a fancy word like abattoir?

I'm going to try to post here more frequently, but we'll see.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bringin' Lexi Back

Bare lists of words are found suggestive to an imaginative and excited mind.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

Dutch: Bung,

Brackish, Trice, Morass,

Hanker, Loll, Foist,

Leedvermaak, Welter, Ort,

Avast, Furlough, Moue,

Sutler, Stevedore, Bedizen

Scottish: Ceilidh, Pillion, Inglenook

Bairn, Agley, Mickle

Feckless, Blatherskite, Doch-an-Dorris

Breton: Bijou, Mien

Norse: Snuck, Fellow,

Quagmire, Lambaste, Gadabout,

Haunt, Slaver, Akimbo,

Cleave, Ombudsman, Egg on

Irish: Galore,

Bonnyclabber, Banshee, Kibosh

Welsh: Crwth, Flummery

Langobard: Pizza

Friday, May 11, 2007

Get a Handle on Things


I was watching the English Patient for the first time last week. There is a scene where Ralph Fiennes character points to the nook in his lover's neck where the collar bones join and declares that he owns it, whatever it is called.

I've always appreciated that part of the anatomy too. So I was prompted to ask my student worker who is a nursing student and was taking A&P at the time what it was called. I heard "mandibulum," but she's a mumbler so I don't doubt that she was correct in saying manubrium. I guess technically the spot I'm thinking of is the presternal notch.

Bartleby.com says that it comes from Latin for handle. It is a bit of an odd place to grab someone, but I suppose it would work for a while.

We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and
bones. -Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Career or Job (or Vocation)

Career comes from the Frenchword for racecourse. The French borrowed their word from Old Provencal for street. I think this is telling of French culture, when they take a word for street and turn it into racecourse (not the safest drivers are we?). This alters the meaning of "career track" a bit too, but I don't think it is much of a stretch to say that a career is a race (toward what? I don't know.)

Job ultimately comes from the word for a bite. After that it came from Middle English for lump. I feel it is fitting that job is linked to eating. What we will do to put food in our mouths.

Not being much of a racer myself, I'm still waiting for my vocation, while doing my job.

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Monday, March 12, 2007


Ginger [Late Old English gingifer, gingiber conflated in Middle English with Old French gingi(m)bre, both from medieval Latin gingiber, zingeber from Latin zingiber(i from Greek ziggiberis from Pali singivera from Dravidian: cf. Tamil inci ginger, ver foot (Sanskrit srngavera infl. by srnga horn from its antler-shaped root).]

I like to think that zingeber means carrying zing. It doesn't, but I'd like to think that. Getting back to reality, I do like that we can trace ginger about as far back as any word in English.

In other news, my sister and I each pronounce crayons with one syllable: crans. The OED doesn't agree starting a second syllable with a schwa. I think it might be more of a duration of the sound that ellides the second syllable. I'm not too worried though.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

My Bad

So my linguistic hubris has laid me low again.

In this post's comments, my arrogance is revealed. Please click the link.

I felt that this was the wrong spelling for this. But when reading the definition of Spartan at my local ice cream boutique, after watching 300, I realized I was mistaken.

There is some semantic kinship twixt hardy and hearty, but more to separate them. Hardy is a severe state of invulnerability. Hearty is a condition of vigorous passion; often paired with welcome, it is an active embrace and openness.

Thank you Michael for your admonition, unknowing as it may have been. There is a nice quote about how we know something is crooked by holding against something straight. Our association has straighten'd me.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

So today is Fat Tuesday-Mardi Gras-Carnival-Pancake Day and the like. What I didn't know about was Collop Monday

Lent begins tomorrow, forty days of sacrifice (fasting and penitence). The word means Spring and comes from the OE lencten which hypothetically comes from West Germanic langitinaz, lengthen--for the lengthening of days.

I think I'm going to fast a bit on sound. There will be more about this tomorrow in Herman's Honeytown.

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