Word Hoard

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Start of a Beautiful Relationship

Welcome to my word hoard. Won't you come on in?

These are words I kept from my five or six word-a-day emails. I've sent them on to my gmail account and have quite a few now. I've intended, ever since I started my other blog, to put a lot of these there, but this will be less intrusive to the logophobe.

These words were selected for many different reasons. Often I just like the sound or utility of the word. Other times I find the etymology revealing. I'm partial to short Old English words. Breton, Provencal, Basque, and Welsh are tough to turn away too. I'm also a sucker for words about words (paronomasia anyone?). So I hope you enjoy these as much as I have and continue to. I'm always open to new words or ways of looking at them too, so help me help someone else.

Here are some to start:

heretic: one who holds unorthodox or unconventional beliefs, adj. not conforming to traditional beliefs

etym. [From Middle English heretik, from Middle French heretique, from Late Latin haereticus, from Greek hairetikos (able to choose), from haireisthai (to choose).]

I find it interesting that choice is the root of religious blasphemy, but really, choice is what did in the human race. Maybe freedom is good, but choice is bad? Choice itself isn't bad, neither is heretic, just because one holds unconventional beliefs doesn't mean they are bad.

metonymy: a figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated

Examples include ears in the phrase "Lend me your ears.", crown for the King, and the White House for the US presidential administration.

I don't know the difference between synecdoche and metonymy. If someone out there does, help me help others.

Any good examples of metonymy and words that get a bad wrap [or is it rap like "rap sheet" or is it "wrap sheet"? (a quick google search revealed 1.92 mil more results for rap. I just now realized it is short for rapport. Spectacular.)], like heretic, are welcome too.

A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers. -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi


  • At July 24, 2006 9:44 AM, Blogger Michael Covarrubias said…

    First of all Daniel I'm fascinated by your finding of "rapport" as the source of "rap" in "a bad rap." What is your source on this? I've had a hard time finding a good etymology.

    -metonymy vs synecdoche-

    Metonymy we shall treat as the more general of the two. Very closely associated with metaphor it is the representation of one thing by another related thing. The crown is an object that reminds us of the people who make up the monarchy (or the person who leads the monarchy). Your examples are solid. All are fair metonyms [< meta-, other , along with, among + onoma, onyma NAME]

    We must exclude the crown or the White House from synecdoche. Synecdoche [< syn-, together + ekdechesthai, to receive] focuses on parts and wholes. In order to be synecdoche there must be more than a mere association or possession. When I say "there were 100 head of cattle" I'm not talking about decapitated cows and bulls. It can move in the other direction. When I say "The U.S. is stubbornly refusing to speak with North Korea" I'm referring to a part of the country - the men in charge.

    Of course there it gets confusing. Are those men really a part of the countries?

    A good example (and one that illustrates the political importance of these distinctions to many) would be my claim that I was born in America. I'm using the encompassing term for a part of that whole - America's United States.

    So "lend me your ears" would actually be metonymy and not synecdoche because the ears are a part of the person BUT the metonym is substituting ears for attention - which is mere association.

  • At July 24, 2006 9:39 PM, Blogger Daniel said…

    I have no source. I'm sorry. I just thought it fit.

    My Shorter OED, 5th ed., has rap, contraction of Irish ropaire-robber, counterfeit coin. E18 There is also the possibility of the rare verb "perhaps related to Middle Low German rappen- to seize"

    So could a "bad rap" be a poor counterfeit or low denomination coin and "rap sheet" be a sheet documenting an occurrence of seizing?

    Probably not.

  • At July 25, 2006 7:46 PM, Blogger Buffy Turner said…

    A beautiful relationship, indeed.

    Oh, Daniel, I loved your little parenthetical, "paranomasia, anyone?" I was all, yes!, yes!, paranomasia! Cause Michael and I'd just been talking about that one recently.


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