Friday, June 29, 2007

Word Inflation

Which is not to be confused with "Inflationary Language". This is a perfect example of how a word can come to mean its exact opposite through use of other words when this word would have been, well, adequate. See sense 2c below.

adequate, a.

1. Equal in magnitude or extent; commensurate; neither more nor less. Obs.

2. a. Commensurate in fitness; equal or amounting to what is required; fully sufficient, suitable, or fitting.

b. Without const.: equal to the occasion, competent to deal with the situation.

c. In slightly derogatory sense: hardly sufficient or acceptable; barely reaching a minimum standard.

3. Logic. Fully answering to, or representing.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A golden word

The noun was initially used by alchemists (as you'll read below), which I did not know. The etymology is from the sense of "attainment" rather than "skilled" which is not what I would have expected.

adept, a. and n.

A. adj. Completely versed (in); thoroughly proficient; well-skilled.

B. n. [In med.L. adeptus was used subst. and assumed by alchemists that professed to have attained the great secret. In Eng. the L. form was at first used, with pl. adepti.] Hence, ‘He that is completely skilled in all the secrets of his art.’ J. One that has attained to proficiency in anything.

Hence adeptly adv., in an adept manner; skilfully, adroitly.

A scary thought.

You may already know my opinions on the most recent Lord of the Rings movies. If not, this will make them evident. (And if you want to actually read my opinion on one of them, you can find it here.) But I was reading along on a Tolkien board I visit and I ran across someone who had this in their signature/footer:

“The interesting phenomenon with our script-writing is that with every draft that we wrote, it became closer and closer to what was in the book. It became nearer to Tolkien.” ~Peter Jackson

And I thought, "Oh. My. Goodness. Since they turned out the way they did, they must have been completely unrecognisable as Tolkien in the first few drafts."

Clean-up time

Last I checked, it was the second news item down the page on my library system's main page. They're going to go through their records and delete all the old cards that haven't been used in two years. There are pros and cons, and it's probably necessary for them to clean out their database to make things run more smoothly, but had they done this a few years back I wouldn't have been able to return here from living in another state and have them issue me a card based on my still-existing records.

On the other hand, they probably wouldn't have been able to say to me that I still owed $3 and change for fines that they had kept track of for the past 5 years or so.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

John Doe is to fauna as ?? is to flora

"Well, all the jokes can't be good. You've got to expect that once in a while." ~ Groucho Marx



A provisional name for a plant of which the flowers are unknown, so that it cannot be as yet referred to its proper genus.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I take it all back.

I feel a bit badly using words in such quick succession. I feel somewhat that there ought to be a significant gap between the words I choose to put up here. Usually there is; sometimes I've read through 50 or 60 words to find another that I wanted to post about. This time it's two in a row and the next will make it 3 out of a series of 5.


To take away; spec. in Rom. Law, to revoke the bequest of (a legacy, etc.).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Too good to pass up.

A strange word, seemingly little (if ever) used and a peculiar definition. How could I refrain? It even has an odd-ball alternate spelling. There aren't even any example quotations.

adecastic(ke, a.


‘One that will doe iust howsoeuer.’ Cockeram 1626.

Kill a bear, go to jail.

Okay, not quite. But this guy is still being fined for "not securing his campsite". Ridiculous. The man killed a bear with a log because it was coming after his six year-old son! Couldn't he have been cut a little slack? I mean, it was a small bear, but it was still a bear and he killed it with nothing more than a big stick. And it was to protect his family. (Via The Corner.)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fun x 2!

A couple of fun links from Toshi Station. The first answers that burning question that we've all been kept up at night pondering: What do the Powerpuff Girls' skeletons look like?

And the other shows what kinds of fun the folks at Industrial Lights and Magic must have when they get to goof around.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Presented for your consideration.

Thank you, Rod Serling. I tend to confuse this word with "deduce", simply because of the similar appearance and pronunciation. Something I ought to work on, I suppose.

adduce, v.

To bring forward (verbally) for consideration, to cite, to allege.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Got your back

A word whose etymology is intelligible from the composition of the word itself.

addorsed, ppl. a.


Turned back to back; said of two animals, or objects, on a shield.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I have seen this word and used this word in the senses near the end of the list and had no idea that it derived from the meanings near the top of the list. Disgusting. I'd have been more careful with it had I known.

addle, n. and a.

A. n.

1. Stinking urine, or other liquid filth; mire.

2. ‘The dry lees of wine.’ In Bailey, vol. II, 1731; whence also in Ash 1775.

B. attrib. and adj.

1. a. In addle egg [addle orig. the n. used attrib. (= med.L. ovum ūrīnæ egg of urine or putrid liquid, a perversion of cl. L. ovum ūrinum, repr. Gr. ****** *** , wind-egg), at length, c1600, treated as adj.] A rotten or putrid egg; one that produces no chicken. Applied usually to a fecundated egg in which through exposure to cold the chick dies during hatching; but also to an egg having no germ, which soon begins to decompose; and apparently sometimes to an egg no longer fit for food because partly hatched. (The idea of abortiveness led to many word-plays on addle and idle.)

b. as simple adj.

2. a. fig. Empty, idle, vain; also (with reference to the decomposed or disorganized condition of an addle egg), muddled, confused, unsound.

b. as simple adj.

3. dialectally. Unsound, crazy.

C. Comb.

1. addle-brain, addle-head, addle-pate; one whose head is addled, a stupid bungler.

2. addle-brained, addle-headed, addle-pated, a.; applied contemptuously to one whose intellect seems muddled.

3. addle-headedness, fatuity.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Odd that there's no corresponding phrase in English

I mean, we use this phrase (and others like it) in English, but the words themselves are not English. Why is that, I wonder?

addio, int.

A formula of civility, used in the subscription of letters, or at parting.

You want me to crush your spirit?

Okay, here goes. There is a bill in the Senate right now, S. 1419, which is ostensibly about decreasing vehicle emissions. The effect that it will have on gas prices, however, through taxes, bio-fuel regulations and price controls is shocking. The Heritage Foundation estimates that by 2016 I, as a resident of Washington, will be paying about $6.80 a gallon for my gas. Yep, nearly $7 a gallon.

And, if that's not depressing enough, by the time those prices hit, no one will be thinking about this bill from 2007. No sir, you won't hear a single syllable about it on the news and everyone will blame whoever is the sitting president for the high gas prices. That means, Congress can raise your taxes, take your money and no one will ever be able to do anything about it because by the time you really feel the pinch, no one will remember why it happened.

Ah, yes. Congress: Helping you die a little more inside each day since 1789.

Monday, June 18, 2007

"Most people just think that I hold a camera and point at stuff"

"But there is a heck of a lot more to it than that." Likewise, there is a lot more to this word that I had realised.

addict, v.

1. To deliver over formally by sentence of a judge (to anyone). Hence fig. to make over, give up, surrender. Obs. except as a techn. term in Rom. Law.

2. refl. To bind, attach, or devote oneself as a servant, disciple, or adherent (to any person or cause). Obs.

3. To attach (anyone) to a pursuit. Obs.

4. To devote, give up, or apply habitually to a practice. a. trans. with refl. meaning. (A person addicts his mind, etc., or his tastes addict him.)

b. refl. and pass. (A person addicts himself, or is ADDICTED.)

Hence addicting ppl. a. = ADDICTIVE a.


My wife has a recording of Maria Callas starring in Bizet's Carmen. It's one of my favourite musical recordings that we own. Watch this to see why.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Christopher Hitchens Gets His Lunch Money Taken

Or, "Why Atheism Collapses In On Itself". I found a link in the Corner to a debate featured on the Christianity Today website. Mr Ponnuru is right; Mr Hitchens loses big. But he's also wrong, I don't think there can be any moral foundation without an acceptance of theism, at least tacitly.

So that got me interested in this Mr Wilson that was the big winner. He's got some interesting stuff on his blog, and he's critiqued Mr Hitchens' book chapter by chapter, and I couldn't refrain from linking this post. He starts with a Wodehouse reference and closes with a Mikado reference. Who could resist?

Saturday, June 16, 2007


This will be funniest to a certain select portion of the population. And you'll know right away whether you're in that group, or not.

Friday, June 15, 2007

So I'm late again. Sue me.

Here's a fun one, the definitions are mostly contradictory, mostly obsolete and none of it is real anyway. Most excellent.

adamant, n. and a.

A. n.

1. a. Without identification with any other substance.

b. fig.

2. a. Identified with the diamond. Obs.

b. as the natural opposite of the loadstone. Obs.

3. a. Identified with the loadstone or magnet. Obs.

b. as the natural opposite of the diamond. Obs.

c. fig. A magnet, centre of attraction. Obs.

4. Confusing 3 with 1 or 2. Obs.

5. attrib.

B. adj. Unshakeable, inflexible, esp. to be adamant, stubbornly to refuse compliance with requests. (The point at which the n. use passed into adj. is not determinable.)

Hence adamantly adv.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A great magazine.

I'm down to one magazine subscription from two now. Actually, I decided against renewing my National Review subscription a while back as a cost-cutting measure, and it was only ever two magazines anyway. And, come to think of it, The New Criterion subscription was a gift.

Okay, now that I've wandered far afield and have almost lost track in my own mind of where I was going, let me say that it is a great magazine. And not just because it is instructive, entertaining and even sometimes edifying. No, it is also a great magazine in a much more prosaic sense. When the month of June arrived and I still had not received my May issue, I called to inquire why this might have been. Was it because there was no May issue this year? Had my subscription been unexpectedly terminated? No, it was inexplicable why my copy had not arrived. But after ensuring that my address had not been altered, they simply informed me that they would send me another copy. No questions, no remonstrances, just a matter-of-fact replacement. What a great magazine.

A hidden suffix.

My first suffix? I'll have to look back and see. Obviously a common suffix, but not one that I had noticed. Indeed, I'm not certain I was really aware of it as being a suffix. Lots of fun words here as examples, too. As usual, the unreproduceable Greek letters are replaced by "*".

-ad, suffix¹

of ns.

1. repr. Gr. -**-* (nom. -**) forming, a. Collective numerals, as ***** unity, monad, so dyad, triad, tetrad, pentad (especially used to class chemical elements or radicals according to the number of their combining units); hebdomad, chiliad, myriad, etc.; also perissad, Olympiad; decade retains final e from Fr. b. Feminine patronymics (in which it is a phonetic variant of -id), in proper names of females and districts, as Dryad, Naiad, Troad; often in pl. as Pleiad-es, Hyad-es, Cyclad-es. Hence c. in names of Poems, as Iliad, ‘the lay (***) of Ilium,’ often imitated in modern times, as Lusiad, Dunciad, Rosciad, Columbiad; and d. used by Lindley to form family names of plants akin to a genus, as alismad, liliad, trilliad, asclepiad, etc. (on words in -a or after a vowel; otherwise -id, as in orchid).

2. a. Fr. ade-, in salad, ballad; see -ADE the more usual form.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Don't say that!

What happens if you use this word incorrectly?

acyrological, a.

Obs. rare

Incorrect in use of words. Also subst.

Once again....

Oh, just go read what I said the last time this happened. A week ago. Except I wasn't sick this time.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Who knew it was that old?

I think this is the first word with this suffix when proceeding in an alphabetical fashion. At least, it is the first that I have noticed. And I did not think that it would be such an old word; a single reference from 1852 illustrates the usage. I suppose it should not have surprised me had I thought about it a bit more. Why shouldn't "-ish" be an old suffix?

acutish, a.

Somewhat acute.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Not so pleasant.

Not a term I would use, I think. It doesn't sound very nice to me. Though, on the other hand, German endearments don't always sound very pleasant to an American ear, and I do use one of them.



Dear heart; darling. (Used as a term of address.)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Not acute.

At first, I read this word as "acute", and then after reading the definition, I wondered why it was out of place. More interestingly, it's not listed as obsolete or rare.

acuate, ppl. a.

Sharpened, sharp-pointed.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ask Dr Science!

I'm choosing this one because I like one of the quotes given as a reference to usage.



prop. A genus of Zoophytes belonging to the family Actiniadæ; pop. extended to any animal of the family, whether of the genus Actinia or one of its congeners; a Sea-Anemone, or animal of the Sea-Anemone group.

1767 ELLIS Actinia in Phil. Trans. LVII. 428 The Actinia, called by old authors..Urtica marina, from its supposed property of stinging, is now more properly called by some late English authors the Animal flower.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Not as broad as you might think

I learned this when I was first thinking about starting this blog. I don't think I've done this yet, and I'm going to try to keep it from becoming a habit, but I'm going to skip way ahead to contrast with another word.


orig. U.S.

A word formed from the initial letters of other words. Hence as v. trans., to convert into an acronym (chiefly pass. and as pa. pple.). Also acronymic a.; acronymically adv.; acronyming vbl. n.; acronymize v. trans.


The use of initials; a significative group of initial letters. Now spec. a group of initial letters used as an abbreviation for a name or expression, each letter or part being pronounced separately (contrasted with ACRONYM).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

How I live my life

Rising in the evening, that is. Several cool words here. There is the word itself, the correction on a point of improper usage and the synonym. It's just packed with wordy goodness!

acronychal, acronycal, a.

Happening in the evening or at night-fall, vespertine, as the acronychal rising or setting of a star. (Sometimes used as if = Rising in the evening or at sunset and setting at sunrise; but this is not correct. When the rising is acronychal, the setting is cosmical, and vice versâ.)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Busy, busy.

Non-digital life has kept me busy enough to prevent me from doing much with this blog lately. As I daresay you've noticed. But I couldn't pass this up. I can't say it much better than the creator of Sheldon did, so I'll just quote him.

Something tells me there's a whole second layer of awesomeness to the web, but it's all written in I'll never find the URLs to even see it.

This is of what he was speaking.

No, not really.

Had I not just read it, I would not have believed it. Mixing mediums in this way seemed to me to be the sole province of other forms of art. Guess not.


‘A statue, with the head and extremities of stone, the trunk being usually made of wood, either gilt or draped.’ Encycl. Brit. 1853. Used in early Grecian art.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Wood and stuff

This would be interesting to know how to do, don't you think? I've always thought it would be neat to learn how to carve wood.


The art of making blocks in relief, as a substitute for wood-engraving.