Thursday, May 31, 2007

Talk about a rare word.

The OED seems to imply that this word was only used by one person, ever! Or something like that. Kinda cool, I think.

acrid, n.


A locust.
One of the terms introduced by Cheke in attempting to give a closer version of the Greek N.T. Used by no one else.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Word, or not?

Not easy to tell, it seems. This may be a word, but it is uncertain. Though the inclination of the OED is against it, they still do not list it as a spurious word, though I will tag it thus because of the possibility.



[An entry copied from Dict. to Dict. since 17th c.; its source has not been ascertained; and as the form of the word does not admit of explanation, there is ground to suspect its origination in some error in the transcription of a L. or OFr. document. If the word existed, and is correctly explained, it would be a square acre, i.e. a piece of land a furlong square = 48,400 sq. yds.]

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You must be out of your mind.

An interesting word, though I don't think occasions to use it would occur very frequently.

acrasia, n


The state of mind in which one acts against one's better judgement; weakness of will, ‘incontinence’. (Used esp. with reference to Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics VII.)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Catching up.

I fell behind there a bit over the past week or so. I plead illness. And reader indifference. No one comments, few read, so I figured it would be little missed if I took a brief hiatus. On the other hand, I hate to miss days, so I've caught myself up with some backdating. Enjoy.

Never an easy word for me to spell.

Though I do find this word to be particularly euphonious, I have always had trouble remembering how to spell it, which means it finds its way into what I write only infrequently.

acquiesce, v.

1. intr. To remain at rest, either physically or mentally; to rest satisfied (in a place or state). Obs.

b. To acquiesce from: To rest, or cease from. Obs. rare.

c. To acquiesce under: To remain in quiet subjection, to submit quietly, to remain submissive. Obs.

2. To agree tacitly to, concur in; to accept (the conclusions or arrangements of others).

b. Const. to, with. Obs.

3. trans. To bring to rest; to appease, satisfy, or harmonize. Obs.

Friday, May 25, 2007

'Tis a far, far better word...

It's always fun to see the OED venture an opinion on what should have happened instead of what has happened.



= ACQUAINTANCE 3; by which it has now been disadvantageously superseded; there has perhaps been some confusion between the pl. acquaintants, -ans, and the collective acquaintance.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Billy! Go get me my hearin' machine!

What a great name for a hearing aid. Would that they still named things this way.


An instrument for helping the deaf to hear.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Who knew there was a word for this? But it does need a word.


That part of the back between the shoulder-blade and the loins which an animal cannot reach to scratch.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Could it apply elsewhere?

I wonder if this word could also be applied to things other than the magnetic equator? I don't see why not.

aclinic, a.

Without inclination. Applied to the magnetic equator, or line surrounding the earth and cutting the terrestrial equator, on which the magnetic needle has no dip but lies horizontal.

I guess it's okay to mention it.

Even though no one else has mentioned it on their blog at the time of this writing, I guess it's okay to mention it myself. At this point, I don't think it's a secret that it's happened and Janene was talking about the upcoming event before it took place. My friends Chris and Janene just welcomed their first child into the world. So congratulations to them!

(I do want to take this opportunity to note, Chris, you really need to update your blog or just scrap it altogether. Going by your blog, one wouldn't have even known that you were about to become a dad, since your last post is about eight months ago now.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Which what now?

The first proper noun, I do believe, that I have chosen so far. I'm not sure I quite grasp the principle, but it sounds good to me.

Ackermann, n.

[The name of Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1834), German-born coach-builder and publisher.]

Used attrib. with reference to steering systems designed in accordance with the principle (the Ackermann principle) that in order to minimize lateral skid while turning, the extensions of the centre lines of the wheel axles must intersect at the centre of the arc on which the vehicle turns.

Under the weather.

Was down with a cold.
Still feeling poorly today.
I hate being sick.

On my high horse.

My wife pointed out to me that I probably got a bit too worked up over an online comic in my last post. Wise as always, she noted that it probably didn't warrant as much time as I spent on it. It's probably a good thing that I have her to keep me in check. Otherwise I might be posting 8,000 word treatises on why Homestar Runner is the foundation of our civilisation or something.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Too good to pass up

One of those lovely nonsense-sounding words. Maybe even a Mr T word. "I pity the foo' who tries the old acamarackus on me!" Or, "Mr T don't fall for that old ackamarackus!"


slang (orig. U.S.).

In phr. the old ackamarackus: a tale or explanation that seeks to convince through deception; a ‘tall’ story, a hackneyed tale; nonsense, malarkey.

So what if it's free?

I have mentioned in the past that I read an online comic called The Order of the Stick. It's a good comic, but it is late a lot. And by that I mean, of the three updates each week, usually at least one of them is late, and it's pretty common for one to get skipped altogether. Admittedly, the comic is entertaining enough to me that I keep reading it, but what tends to irritate me is the attitude people take towards those who remonstrate with the creator for not planning ahead a bit better so that he can post his comic on time.

I'm not much of a one for internet forums, but I do delve into the one at OotS when the comic seems to be late to find out what the ETA for it is. And when I do, I tend to run across a large number of sycophantic posts talking about how they don't know how they will live without the comic, but will try to sustain themselves with the thought that the extra time is going to make the greatest piece of art the world has ever seen. Things like
this, or this, or this.

This is not what is most irritating about the phenomenon, however. Invariably, when someone has the temerity to point out that it would really be more professional to avoid posting comics at the last possible moment, that it is annoying for the comic not to be up when it is scheduled to be half the time, and that creator might well wish to consider trying to draw a couple comics out into the future, the rest of the board descends upon that individual like a wolf falling on a Russian peasant. The sycophants immediately begin railing that since the comic is freely available on the interweb, we should all be grateful that Mr Burlew should descend from his golden throne to grace us with his art. They say that since the comic is a free service, there can be no valid grounds for complaint about its content nor about its timeliness. This is codswallop.

First of all, this is no longer a free service provided by Mr Burlew. It is, in fact, his job. He explicitly began writing and drawing the comic three days a week because he was able to quit his day job and work on it full time. Perhaps he has since supplemented this with other employment, but the fact remains that he is not providing this as a service, but as a means to a not insignificant source of income. He sells books, a board game, shirts and mugs branded with his characters. The reason people buy these is because they enjoy his comic. He must, then, continue to provide his comic in order for people to continue purchasing these items. Aggravating his consumer base by providing an inconsistent product would seem counter-productive and something that we, as his customers, have every right about which to complain.

Second, since much of the time there is no notice about when the comic may be expected, or even if it can be expected for that particular update. Because of this uncertainty, it is not unreasonable to attempt to inquire why a particular comic is late and when it might be expected. It is, however, against the rules. Scroll down near the bottom to "Inappropriate Topics" and one finds this listed,
Missed/Late Comics: Threads speculating on when a comic will be posted or why it may be late will be locked; this does not apply to official threads started by site staff providing notification of a late comic. This applies to both Order of the Stick and Erfworld [another comic hosted on the same site].
So it seems not only is criticism of the fact that comics are late considered beyond the pale, the very notion that comics can be late seems to be taboo. They are The Words Which Must Not Be Spoken. I'd like to buy the books that Mr Burlew has for sale. I find his comic entertaining. But while he treats his audience in such a high-handed and cavalier fashion, I'll reserve my money for other purposes.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Before there was Alpha

there was Able. And Able was begat by:


and vars., used for a in the oral transliteration of code messages and in telephone communications, as in ack emma, for a.m. = ante meridiem; air mechanic. See ACK-ACK, EMMA. In military use replaced by able in Dec. 1942.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bits and Pieces

A blackberry is, apparently, actually many small berries in a cluster. I am not surprised, but I did not actually know that already.


1. A berry which grows in clusters, as grapes, currants, etc.; sometimes applied to the whole cluster. Obs.

2. Bot. One of the small fleshy berries or drupes which make up such compound fruits as the blackberry; sometimes applied to the compound fruit which they compose.

3. The stones or seeds of grapes and berries.

4. Anat. A racemose gland; a blind end of a duct of a secreting gland, which is divided into several lobes.

5. Anat. (See quot.)

1847 YOUATT Horse xiii. 297 There are, scattered through the substance of the liver, numerous little granules, called acini, from their resemblance to the small stones of certain berries.

Add: Hence acinic a., of an acinus (ACINUS n. 4).

Aching addendum

Some more information about the altering of the conventional forms and pronunciation of the word "ache" is found in the etymology of the verb. Dr Johnson seems not to have been quite the infallible sage some think him to be.

[Originally a strong vb. of same class as take, shake, but with weak inflections since 4. The current spelling ache is erroneous; the vb. being historically ake, and the n. ache, as in bake, batch, speak, speech. About 1700 the n. began to be confused in pronunciation with the vb., whence some confusion in spelling between ache and ake; and finally instead of both being written ake—the word that has survived,—both vb. and n. are now written ache—the word that has become obsolete. That is, the word ache has become obs. and been replaced by the word ake, while the spelling ake has become obs. and been replaced by the spelling ache. For this paradoxical result, Dr. Johnson is mainly responsible: ignorant of the history of the words, and erroneously deriving them from the Gr. **** (with which they have no connexion) he declared them ‘more grammatically written ache.’ See next word.]

Big Unit Strikes Again

Following up my previous post I'll note that Randy Johnson got his first win yesterday. Struck out 9 through 6 innings, gave up no walks, no runs and only one hit. True, he was pulled after six and only threw about 80 pitches, but he says he's still coming back from his surgery and isn't full-strength yet.

And the Mariner's put a hurting on the Angels, 11-3, to pull within a game of first place.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Enough to give you a eddage.

Turns out that this word once had a significantly different pronunciation than it does today. An interesting case where a word with separate forms for verb and noun transformed into a single form for both. I believe I tracked down the "O.P." referred to below, but I'm not certain. I think it is "O.P. now hist., old price(s), referring to demonstrations at Covent Garden Theatre, London, in 1809, against a proposed new tariff of prices." And, as before, the asterisks stand-in for symbols Blogger will not reproduce.

ache, n.
[OE. æce is a primary deriv. of vb. ac-an to ACHE, in which, as in parallel forms, the c (k) was palatalized to ch (t*), while in the vb. it remained (k); cf. make, match; bake, batch; wake, watch; break, breach; speak, speech; stick, stitch. Occasional early instances of ake as n. are northern, in which dialect c (k) was not palatalized, cf. make = match, steik = stitch, kirk = church. In 7 the n. was still atche (**t*, **t*) pl. atch-es (**t**z, **t**z), but about 1700 it began to be confused with the vb. as (**k). The spelling of the latter has in turn been changed to ache, so that though both vb. and n. are now really ake, both are in current spelling written ache. See prec. The former pronunciation survives in the dialectal eddage = head-ache; cf. Smallage for Small Ache f. ACHE n.2 The ‘O.P.’ rioters, ignorant of the Shaksperian distinction of ake and ache, ridiculed the stage pronunciation of the n. by giving it to the vb. in ‘John Kemble's head aitches’.]

A pain; in later usage, a continuous or abiding pain, in contrast to a sudden or sharp one. Used of both physical and mental sensations.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Silly pickle

Today's word is one whose definition is wholly contained within the etymology.



Also atchaar, attjar, achiar. [a. Pers. āchār pickles, adopted in nearly all the vernaculars of India for acid or salt relishes, and extended by Europeans to pickles of every description. Mentioned by Garcia 1563. (Col. Yule.)]

He talks a good game.

I say I'm going to talk about sports, then nothing. Sorry. I'll get a bunch out here in one post.

Randy Johnson is getting himself back into the groove. So it would seem anyway. He's been pulling his ERA down since his first abysmal start. Though he's without a win yet, he's been going 6 or 7 innings deep in the game and giving up only about 3 runs. I'm hopeful that he can, if not return to his old self, at least still be a respectable pitcher. I'd like to see him get that 300th win in the next couple years. Wins are useless for determining pitcher quality, but Hall of Fame voters seem to like them.

All is not well in Steel-town. It seems Alan Faneca is seriously unhappy with being treated, as he sees it, unfairly. Ben Roethlisberger let the cat out of the bag that he and former coach Cowher did not always get along well (though they commendably kept it between themselves while they were teammates). And the whole head-coach hiring seemed to chase away a couple of veteran Steelers coaches who jumped to the Arizona desert. I fear it doesn't bode well for the rebounding of the Steelers opportunities.

I've only been keeping half an eye (there's a gruesome metaphor) on the Stanley Cup play-offs. I kept up with hockey a lot more in college. Kept up with sports a lot more in college, frankly. I don't know a lot about hockey, but it can be exciting to watch during the play-offs when they don't mess about with ties, shoot-outs or whatever they do during the regular season nowadays. Seeing a game get to a third overtime is pretty cool. Looks like the Ottawa Senators will pull out their conference championship (they're up 3-0 at the moment over Buffalo). It would be kind of nice to see a Canadian team with the Cup. The Cup hasn't been hoisted by a team from the frozen north since Montreal in 1993.

The Suns-Spurs match-up is interesting. Tied 2-2 in their series, the series has featured some hard fouls and tensions seem to be running high. I haven't had a chance to see any of the video, but I'll try to make it a point to look it up on YouTube in the next couple days. I predicted, and still expect, the Suns to pull it out in a 7 game series, but I would like to see San Antonio win because I'm a fan of Tim Duncan and the way he plays the game. Briefly, I'll add that the Utah Jazz seem to be sticking with Dr Jekyll when it counts. Their regular season play was pretty inconsistent, but they are a decent team when they're on the upswing side of their varied play.

A couple more baseball notes and we'll call it good. I can't stand that Roger Clemens is coming back. I can't stand that he's going to pitch for the Yankees. I can't believe that they're going to pay him $28 million (pro-rated for a bit more than half the year) to pitch this year. Here's hoping that he bombs, has a season ERA around 7 and helps NY to a fourth place finish.

On a happier note, I'm pleased to see that though the M's didn't start out too well, they are staying in the thick of things. In second place, two games back of the first-place Angels, they could take over the top spot in the division with a sweep of the Angels in the series starting tomorrow. Here's hoping!

Friday, May 11, 2007


Still having trouble with the Friday thing. Chill out. Relax. Chillax.



Failure (of a muscle) to relax. Hence achalasic a., of an organ, etc., affected by achalasia.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bitter Herbs

Kuzco: Hey, how about a side of potatoes, my buddy?
Kronk: You got it. Want cheese on those potatoes?
Yzma: Thank you, Kronk. Cheddar will be fine.
Kronk: Cheddar spuds coming up.
Kuzco: Spuds yes, cheese no.
Kronk: Hold the cheese.
Yzma: No, I want the cheese.
Kronk: Cheese it is.
Kuzco: Cheese me no "likee."
Kronk: Cheese out.
Yzma: Cheese in!
Kronk: Ah, come on. Make up your mind!
Kuzco: Okay, okay, on second thought...
Yzma, Kuzco: ...make my potatoes a salad.

acetarious, a.

Used in salads, as lettuce, cress, etc.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Everyone needs more of these.

Units of measure, that is. Remember kids, "The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets forty rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it."


1. An ancient Roman, and old medical, fluid measure; a saucerful; usually reckoned at 2 ½ fluid ounces, or one-eighth of a pint.

2. = ACETABULUM 2b. [This is Bob. Since you can't follow that word as a link, I'll quote that sense of the word here too. "b. The socket of the thigh-bone."]

White-washed tombs.

Maybe it's not that severe, but I did find it funny. I'm not convinced that the global warming is a giant problem that we need to do something about right now, and I'm not convinced that it's all man-made and I'm not convinced that there is really much that can be done. You may think otherwise, and this still would be both funny and irritating.

Free Audio-books

Found a site, LibriVox, that offers free audio-books for works that are in the public-domain. How is this possible, you ask? Because the books are read by random collections of average Joes, not professionals. Still, it might be worth something if you're looking to listen to a classic book on your iPod or other mobile audio device. I haven't heard any of them yet, but I'm downloading Psmith in the City even as I type.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hold everything!

Amazon has a pre-order available for the next Usagi Yojimbo TPB! I can hardly wait.

A ditch runs through it.

I'm not sure what that subject means either. It's only tangentially related to today's word.



Also azequia, zequia.

A canal for irrigation; an open drain.

If you're looking for gift ideas...

I'm not sure why you would be. Maybe because it's V-E Day today, and Mistr Jan Hus - 1415 (John Huss Day) is just around the corner. But even if it's for no particular holiday, you could always get me (if it's me you're thinking of buying a gift for) one of these. XXL would be great.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Short word, long definition

Short words seem to have the longest definitions. Probably because since they are so easily used, they are more frequently altered in their meanings little by little over time, or additional meanings are given to them. Long, complicated words tend to be more precise for converse reasons.

A fun word, and one in which I recognised a couple quotations, both are from one of my favourite authors, PG Wodehouse and both are to illustrate sense 2. d. I'll include them below in the proper place.

ace, n.

1. a. One at dice, or the side of the die marked with one pip or point, and counting as one; afterwards extended to cards, dominos, etc., and meaning the throw of one, or the card, etc. so reckoned. ambs ace, the first connexion in which the word occurs in Eng. (OFr. 12th c. ambes as), both aces; deuce ace (OFr.) two aces, at one throw (now taken as deux + ace = 2 and 1; so trey ace, syce ace, etc.)

b. At cards.

c. In lawn tennis, badminton, etc.: an unreturnable stroke, esp. a service that the opponent fails to touch; a point thus scored.

d. A point scored at racquets, badminton, etc.

e. U.S. slang. A dollar; a one-dollar bill.

2. fig. a. As the ace at dice was the lowest or worst number, ace was frequently used for bad luck, misfortune, loss. Esp. in ambs ace and deuce ace the lowest possible throw, and hence, naught, worthlessness, nothing. b. But in some games at cards, the ace is the most valuable, and hence the ‘ace of men’ the perfection or highest. See also AMBS-ACE.

c. [After F. as.] In the war of 1914-18, an airman who had brought down ten enemy machines; a crack airman.

d. Chiefly U.S. A person outstanding in any activity or occupation; also attrib. Also (U.S. slang), in pl., anything or anyone outstandingly good.

1919 WODEHOUSE Damsel in Distress ii. 35 Put it in your diary, Mac, and write it on your cuff, George Bevan's all right. He's an ace. 1932 WODEHOUSE Hot Water vi. 113 You're aces, boy.

e. on one's ace, on one's own. Austral. and N.Z. slang. Now rare.

f. Phr. ace in the hole, an advantage so far concealed; a card up one's sleeve, a trump card. slang (chiefly N. Amer.).

3. fig. A single point, a minute portion, a jot, particle, or atom.

b. to bate an ace: To abate a jot or tittle, to make the slightest abatement.

c. within an ace of: On the very point of, within a hair's breadth of.

4. attrib. ace-high a. N Amer. colloq., valued or esteemed highly (orig. in Poker, used of a hand in which the highest card is an ace); ace-point: the first of the points or divisions of the tables in backgammon.

ace is in many dialects pronounced yace, yas, yess, whence in the following: O ace, a curious spelling of OYEZ! or O yes! with plural O's ace for Oyezes.


ace, n.

Golf (orig. U.S.). A hole-in-one.

Friday, May 04, 2007

An old-fashioned word.

And I mean that in several senses. Both that it is an old word, generally, and that the fashion of the word is old, and that the fashion of the word has passed out of date. Nowadays, you only see this feminine ending used on the word "dominatrix", which is a pity. I still use the word "executrix" which comes up on occasion in my work, but it's a losing battle.

Speaking of my work, I think it is my schedule that makes me so often forget to post Friday's word upon the day. My apologies. Perhaps I'll have to change the schedule to be Sunday to Thursday, instead of Monday to Friday.



A female accuser.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

One more before we go.

A note on a word related to yesterday's. Something similar, though this time regarding usage in English.


The quality of being accurate; careful exactness; precision, nicety. (More properly a quality of a person, while ACCURACY is a state of a thing; the accurateness of an observer; the accuracy of his results)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I did not know that. Did you know that?

Everyone knows this word, of course. A common, every-day kind of word. But I didn't know that it had the restriction noted below when it is used in Latin.

accurate, a.

In Latin only said of things, but in Eng. extended in sense 2 to persons.

1. Executed with care; careful. Obs. in the general sense.

2. Of things and persons: Exact, precise, correct, as the result of care.

3. Of things, without special reference to the evidence of care: Exact, precise, correct, nice; in exact conformity to a standard or to truth.


I don't think I've written much about sports since the Super Bowl. (And, now that I check, I didn't write at all about the Super Bowl. So, let me say in passing, that I'm quite glad that Peyton Manning got his ring. He's the best quarterback in the game today and, barring injury, will be one of the greatest of all time. And seems like a pretty good guy to top it off.) A couple notes about basketball (but having little to do with the current season) and a short note about the language used when talking about steroids.

Though I don't think I could manage a sustained blog about sports, I do like to comment on certain things from time to time, and I'm overdue for that sort of thing. So if the sports notes aren't to your liking, don't be too off-put if that's mostly what appears over the next few days.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


There's a word for this. I knew this was a practice, and it explained a lot about a particular section of the Last Supper, which would have been otherwise inexplicable to me, but I didn't know there was an actual word. In fact, one of the quotations mentions the Last Supper.


1. The posture of reclining at table, practised by many ancient nations.

1646 SIR T. BROWNE Pseud. Ep. 241 Accubation, or lying downe at meales was a gesture used by very many nations. Ibid. 244 Now there was leaning on Jesus bosome one of his disciples whom Jesus loved; which gesture will not so well agree unto the position of sitting, but is the Laws of accubation.

2. Med. Lying in; = ACCOUCHEMENT.