Monday, September 26, 2011


rebus [ˈribəs] n.

1.) An enigmatical representation of a name, word, or phrase by figures, pictures, arrangement of letters, etc., which suggest the syllables of which it is made up. In later use also applied to puzzles in which a punning application of each syllable of a word is given, without pictorial representation (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: adoption of French rebus, or Latin rēbus, ablative plural of rēs thing. The precise origin of this application of the Latin word is doubtful. It is variously explained as denoting 'by things', from the representation being non verbis sed rebus, and (in Ménage) as taken from satirical pieces composed by clerks in Picardy for the annual carnival, which dealt with current topics, and were therefore entitled de rebus quæ geruntur 'about things which are going on'.

"For whereas a Poesie is a speaking picture, and a picture a speechlesse Poesie, they which lackt the wit to expresse their conceit in speech, did use to depaint it out (as it were) in pictues, which they called Rebus, by a Latine name well fitting their device" (Remaines, Concerning Britaine 2nd Ed., William Camden, 1614).

(Sketch of the Rebus of Bishop Oldham, Unknown Artist, 1911)

Ian Rankin fans (my dad is a huge one) might be especially interested in this one. But now it's time to announce the winner of this week's challenge. Surprise, surprise, it's...Lemons Don't Make Lemonade! She wrote:
"It is invidious of the king to reward the Duke of Albertine a bejeweled sword when he refuses to give his other subjects even a few sacks of silver!" Lady Elizabeth's angry tones could be heard from across the room and I hastened to quiet her, for fear that we will both be accused of treachery against the king. "Hush, sister!" Moving towards her, I whispered: "The king is wise - the incipient jealousy of the nobles will breed disunity among them. And you know how paranoid his majesty is. Furthermore, you cannot fault the king for being partial to the duke...not after the duke's panegyric at court last Thursday. As opposed to your husband's megillah, which, to be honest, came across as redundant, fabulously boring, and lasted an entire hour!" Elizabeth frowned, but her lips twitched. "It is all very well for the duke to slake the king's thirst for flattery with a jug of oenomel, but we all know that King Henry's reign is not 'a paragon of virtue and sagacity to barbaric nations across the world.'"
Normally, I'd be impressed that you used 6 words instead of the required 5. But this week shari happened to have submitted this doozy:
E, are you mad at me for being a wild gardener? Is it because I choose to create my own fata morgana in the midst of my verdant oasis? Please forgive my intransigence, as I find the lushness and vim of unbridled greenery to be an oenomel to my soul. It seems that my love of chaotic gardening is invidious to those who crave order. Perhaps my panegyric ramblings on "Natural Gardening" will somehow spark an incipient love in you of uncontrolled proliferation? If not, it will still not slake my desire of writing my own megillah bombast for your blog.
10 of them! You would have won easily (I hadn't considered the possibility of being written into my own contest-paragraphs before!), shari, except that you used "megillah" as an adjective. Still, that's quite a paragraph: surprisingly readable, given all the inkhornisms! Okay, for next week, let's use (5 of!) fata Morgana, aegis, olla podrida, soupcon, avuncular, telos, and fecundity. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rhetoric - inkhornism

inkhornism [ˈɪŋkhɔːnɪz(ə)m] n.

1.) An arcane term; a bookish word. Also termed "inkhorn term" (Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd Edition).

Etymology: An inkhorn was variously a a portable case for holding writing materials or a portable ink bottle (originally made of horn). In the Renaissance, a pedantic, ostentatious writer would be said to "smell [or savor] a little of the inkhorn." Hence "inkhornism" came to be used in reference to a word that typifies a style with that particular odor.

"I'm just reporting the linguistic facts. But in a glossary like this one, a little sesquipedality—for the right reader—can be some some fun" (ibid., Bryan A. Garner (ed.), 2009).

(De geleerde in zijn studeerkamer, Willem van der Vliet, 1627)

Hi all, hope everyone had a good weekend. Just a reminder that today is the last day to submit your weekly challenge entries. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 23, 2011

olla podrida

olla podrida [ˌɒlə pəˈdridə] n.

1.) A dish of Spanish origin composed of pieces of many kinds of meat, vegetables, etc. stewed or boiled together.
2.) A hotchpoch, medley; a mixture of languages (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: adoption of Spanish olla podrida = 'rotten pot', from Latin olla pot, jar; and Latin putrida putrid, rotten.

"What he is is a weird hybrid blend of classical Expressionist and contemporary postmodernist, an artist whose own "internal impressions and moods" are (like ours) an olla podrida of neurogenic predisposition and phylogenic myth and pyscholanalytic schema and pop-cultural iconography—in other words, Lynch is a sort of G. W. Pabst with an Elvis ducktail" ("David Lynch Keeps His Head", David Foster Wallace, 1995).

(Change the Fuckin Channel Fuckface, David Lynch, 2009)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


aegis [ˈidʒɪs] n.

1.) A shield, or defensive armour; applied in ancient mythology to that of Jupiter or Minerva.
2.) fig. A protection, or impregnable defence. Now frequently in senses 'auspices, control, etc.', especially in phrase "under the ægis (of)" (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: Latin ægis, adoption of Greek αἰγίς, of uncertain etymology.

"Just where a cloud above the mountain rears
An edge all flame, the broadening sun appears;
A long blue bar its aegis orb divides,
And breaks the spreading of its golden tides;
And now that orb has touched the purple steep
Whose softened image penetrates the deep."
("An Evening Walk", William Wordsworth, 1793)

(Combat de Mars contre Minerve, Jacques-Louis David, 1771)

Hi all, I've compiled a list of the available prizes for the weekly contest, just to give everyone a little added incentive. It can be found on the contest page. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 19, 2011

fata Morgana

fata Morgana [ˈfɑtɑ mɔrˈgɑnɑ] n.

1.) A kind of mirage most frequently seen in the Strait of Messina, attributed in early times to fairy agency. Also fig. (Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition).

Etymology: Italian fata, a fairy; Morgana, sister of the British legendary hero Arthur, apparently located in Calabria by the Norman settlers.

"The truth is, I now see, Coleridge's talk and speculation was the emblem of himself: in it as in him, a ray of heavenly inspiration struggled, in a tragically ineffectual degree, with the weakness of flesh and blood. He says once, he "had skirted the howling deserts of Infidelity;" this was evident enough: but he had not had the courage, in defiance of pain and terror, to press resolutely across said deserts to the new firm lands of Faith beyond; he preferred to create logical fata-morganas for himself on this hither side, and laboriously solace himself with these" (The Life of John Sterling, Thomas Carlyle, 1851).

(Fata Morgana, George Frederick Watts, 1865)

Hi all, it's time to announce the winner of this week's contest. It's...Lemons Don't Make Lemonade! She wrote:
"Nothing amuses me more than observing tyros go about their studies," William said, a smile playing on his lips. "I would fain disturb the first-years with sophomoric pranks, but I cower at the thought of the master's rod. The master's hand is as heavy as his wife." I couldn't help but giggle at his impertinent remark. "I disagree. The schoolmaster is a formidable man with the vim of people half his age, but my fear of his cruel philippics surpasses that of a sore bottom. He told Frederick that he was an obtuse baboon destined to a life of cuckoldry and shame...and all because Fred pronounced a French verb wrongly." "If we took the matter up to the headmaster, I'm sure he'll put a stop to such abuse." "Keep on dreaming, William. If the marquis couldn't get our schoolmaster to apologize for insulting his son, then, a fortiori, neither can a lowly headmaster."
Well done, Lemons. You even used "a fortiori" correctly. I'm starting to fear for my beloved copy of The Iliad already! Okay, so next week's words are oenomel, invidious, panegyric, intransigent, megillah, incipient, and slake. Good luck and thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rhetoric - accismus

accismus [ækˈsɪzməs] n.

1.) A feigned refusal of something ardently desired. When people receive gifts or honors, they may use accismus by modestly declaring something like, "Oh, I couldn't possibly accept this!" or "I'm flattered, but I'm really not worth of the honor." Political candidates and appointees sometimes engage in something like this tactic by declaring that they would really rather be doing something else than being involved in public life (Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd Edition).

Etymology: Medieval or Modern Latin, adopted from Greek ἀκκισµός coyness, affectation.

"But this Oscar is a symbol, I think. And it is given for appreciation from those people who we never see. They are a part of our life. I refuse to believe that I beat Jack Lemmon, that I beat Al Pacino, that I beat Peter Sellers. I refuse to believe that Robert Duvall lost. We are a part of an artistic family" ("Best Actor Oscar Acceptance Speech", Dustin Hoffman, 1980).

Hi all, I couldn't really think of a relevant work of art for this one, so it's just text for today. Also, a reminder that today is the last day to submit your entries for the weekly challenge. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


oenomel [ˈinəˌmɛl] n.

1.) A mixture of wine and honey, used as a beverage by the ancient Greeks.
2.) fig.; esp. applied to language or thought in which strength and sweetness are combined (O.E.D. 2nd Edition).

Etymology: adaptation of Latin œnomeli (late L. -melum), adopted from Greek οἰνόµελι, from οἶνος wine + µέλι honey. So Modern French œnomel.

"With gracious gods he communed, honouring thus
At once by service and similitude,
Service devout and worship emulous
Of the same golden Muses once they wooed,
The names and shades adored of all of us,
The nurslings of the brave world's earlier brood
Grown gods for us themselves: Theocritus
First, and more dear Catullus, names bedewed
With blessings bright like tears
From the old memorial years,
And loves and lovely laughters, every mood
Sweet as the drops that fell
Of their own oenomel
From living lips to cheer the multitude
That feeds on words divine, and grows
More worthy, seeing their world reblossom like a rose"
("Song for the Centenary of Walter Savage Landor", Algernon Charles Swinburne, 1880).

(Porträt des Friedrich von Schiller, Gerhard von Kügelgen, 1809)

Thursday, September 15, 2011


invidious [ɪnˈvɪdiəs] a.

1.) Of a charge, complaint, report, etc.: tending or fitted to excite odium, unpopularity, or ill feeling against some one. Now rare.
2.) Of an action, duty, topic, etc.: entailing odium or ill will upon the person performing, discharging, discussing, etc.; giving offence to others.
3.) Of a comparison or distinction: offensively discriminating.
4.) Of a thing: fitted to excite ill feeling or envy against the possessor.
5.) That looks with an evil eye; envious, grudging, jealous. Now rare.
6.) Viewed with ill will or dislike; odious to a person. Obs. rare (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: From Latin invidiosus, envious, hostile, from invidia, envy.

"I felt particular interest in watching the combustion of American authors, and scrupulously noted by my watch the precise number of moments that changed most of them from shabbily printed books to indistinguishable ashes. It would be invidious, however, if not perilous, to betray these awful secrets; so that I shall content myself with observing that it was not invariably the writer most frequent in the public mouth that made the most splendid appearance in the bonfire" ("Earth's Holocaust" in Mosses from an Old Manse, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1846).

(De goudweger en zijn vrouw, Quentin Massys, 1514)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


panegyric [ˌpænɪˈdʒɪrɪk] n.

1.) A public speech or writing in praise of some person, thing, or achievement; a laudatory discourse, a formal or elaborate encomium or eulogy. Construed with on, upon, formerly of.
2.) Elaborate praise; eulogy; laudation (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: Latin panegyricus, from Greek panegurikos (logos), (speech) at a public assembly, panegyric, from paneguris, public assembly: pan-, + aguris, assembly, marketplace.

"'I cannot agree, Phaedrus, with the condition laid down for our speeches, that they should be a simple and unqualified panegyric of Love. If Love had a single nature, it would be all very well, but not as it is, since Love is not single; and that being so the better course would be to declare in advance which Love it is that we have to praise'" (The Symposium by Plato, Walter Hamilton (trans.), 1951).

(Das Gastmahl des Platon, Anselm Feuerbach, 1869)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


intransigent [ɪnˈtrænsɪdʒənt] n.

1.) Refusing to moderate a position, especially an extreme position; uncompromising (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language).

Etymology: French intransigeant, from Spanish intransigente: in-, not (from Latin) + transigente, present participle of transigir, to compromise (from Latin transigere, to come to an agreement: trans-, + agere, to drive).

"Suppose someone had said to me, ten years ago, in Scarsdale, or on the commuter train, suppose the person had been my next-door neighbor, Rex Metalman, the corporate accountant with the unbelievable undulating daughter, suppose this was back in the days before his lawn mania took truly serious hold and his nightly paramilitary sentry-duty with the illuminated riding mower and the weekly planeloads of DDT dropping from the sky in search of perhaps one sod webworm nest and his complete intransigence in the face of the reasonable and in the beginning polite requests of one or even all of the neighbors that hostilities against the range of potential lawn enemies that obsessed him be toned down, at least in scale, before all this drove a wedge the size of a bag of Scott’s into our tennis friendship, suppose Rex Metalman had speculated in my presence, then, that ten years later, which is to say now, I, Rick Vigorous, would be living in Cleveland, Ohio, between a biologically dead and completely offensive-smelling lake and a billion-dollar man-made desert, that I would be divorced from my wife and physically distanced from the growth of my son, that I would be operating a firm in partnership with an invisible person, little more, it seems clear now, than a corporate entity interested in failure for tax purposes, the firm publishing things perhaps even slightly more laughable than nothing at all, and that perched high atop this mountain of the unthinkable would be the fact that I was in love, grossly and pathetically and fiercely and completely in love with a person eighteen count them eighteen years younger than I, a woman from one of Cleveland’s first families, who lives in a city owned by her father but who works answering telephones for something like four dollars an hour, a woman whose uniform of white cotton dress and black Converse hightop sneakers is an unanalyzable and troubling constant, who takes somewhere, I suspect, between five and eight showers a day, who works in neurosis like a whaler in scrimshaw, who lives with a schizophrenically narcissistic bird and an almost certainly nymphomaniacal bitch of a roommate, and who finds in me, somewhere, who knows where, the complete lover…suppose all this were said to me by Rex Metalman, leaning conversationally with his flamethrower over the fence between our properties as I stood with a rake in my hand, suppose Rex had said all this to me, then I almost certainly would have replied that the likelihood of all that was roughly equal to the probability of young Vance Vigorous, then eight and at eight in certain respects already more of a man than I, that young Vance, even as we stood there to be seen kicking a football up into the cold autumn sky and down through a window, his laughter echoing forever off the closed colored suburban trees, of strapping Vance’s eventually turning out to be a…a homosexual, or something equally unlikely or preposterous or totally out of the question" (The Broom of the System, David Foster Wallace, 1987).

(Timon d'Athènes, Thomas Couture, ~1857)

Credit to Bibi for bringing this word to my attention. And sorry about the long quote. I wanted to finish the sentence!

Monday, September 12, 2011


megillah [məˈgɪlə] n.

1.) Each of five books of the Old Testament, namely Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther, appointed to be read by adherents of the Jewish faith on certain feast days; freq. with particular reference to the book of Esther, read at the feast of Purim. Also, a copy of any one, or all, of these books.
2.) With allusion to the length of the Megillah: a long, tedious, or complicated story; frequently in the phrase "a whole Megillah" (O.E.D. 2nd Edition).

Etymology: Hebrew megillah roll, scroll.

"She laughed and seemed amenable, so I started with the list, expecting a one- or two-word answer to everything. Instead I got a whole megillah. Most people have a quick answer to 'How do you take your coffee?' Not Hillary. Sometimes she takes her coffee black, she explained, other times with lots of cream, sometimes she likes espresso, sometimes cappuccino." (The Girls in the Van: a Reporter's Diary of the Campaign Trail, Beth J. Harpaz, 2002).

(Esther before Ahasuerus, Jacopo Tintoretto, ~1548)

It's Monday again, which means it's time to announce this week's contest's winner. It's...Lemons Don't Make Lemonade! She wrote:
The gallimaufry of well-dressed women stood in a circle, fawning over the truculent but broodingly handsome male. At this moment, a young lady of more modest apparel stumbled into their midst. "My Lord," she said, curtseying. Lady Elizabeth, who was painstakingly trying to attract the squire's attention, glowered at the brazen girl. "Either that girl has been goaded by her ill-groomed parents or she has chutzpah none of us know about. Still, I pass that over, if only because she has seven siblings to feed and earning the favor of the squire is the only way." Surprisingly, the squire did not seem offended at the presence of the rosy-cheeked girl, although he was astonished at her audacity. "Courage is a good quality, but beware of the conflicts brought on by courage."
Well done, Lemons. All the more impressive that you used 2 of the rhetorical devices (paralipsis and epanadiplosis). However, I had intended you to use them in addition to the five vocabulary words, but we'll compromise by just giving you 1 point. Okay, so next weeks words are philippic; vim; Wein, Weib, und Gesang; a fortiori, tyro; nonplus; and fain. Good luck and thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rhetoric - digressio

digressio [dɪˈgrɛsɪəʊ] n.

1.) Digressio is the handling of some matter going out from order, but yet for profit of some pertinent cause, we may digresse for the cause of praising, dispraising, delighting or preparing. Digressons are taken either from the declaration of deeds, the descriptions of persons, places and times, the reporting of Apollogies and similltudes, & likewise from common places (The Garden of Eloquence, Henry Peachum, 1593).

Etymology: from Latin dīgress-, participle stem of dīgredī, to go aside, depart, from di-, dis- + gradī, to step, walk, go.

"And, that it may not appear marvellous to any one of you, that I, in a formal proceeding like this, and in a regular court of justice, when an action is being tried before a praetor of the Roman people, a most eminent man, and before most impartial judges, before such an assembly and multitude of people as I see around me, employ this style of speaking, which is at variance, not only with the ordinary usages of courts of justice, but with the general style of forensic pleading; I entreat you in this cause to grant me this indulgence, suitable to this defendant, and as I trust not disagreeable to you,—the indulgence, namely, of allowing me, when speaking in defence of a most sublime poet and most learned man, before this concourse of highly-educated citizens, before this most polite and accomplished assembly, and before such a praetor as him who is presiding at this trial, to enlarge with a little more freedom than usual on the study of polite literature and refined arts, and, speaking in the character of such a man as that, who, owing to the tranquillity of his life and the studies to which he has devoted himself, has but little experience of the dangers of a court of justice, to employ a new and unusual style of oratory" ("The Speech of M. T. Cicero for Aulus Licinius Archias, the Poet" in The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, C. D. Yonge and B. A. London (trans.), 1856).

(Fanciullo che legge Cicerone, Vincenzo Foppa, ~1464)

This one may seem obvious, but a good digression can be a powerful rhetorical device. Also, apologies for my absence from the blogosphere recently, but I've been moving house from London to the great state of Colorado. I turned in my thesis a week or so ago and, instead of waiting around in London for my viva, I decided to come back home and climb some 14ers while the weather was still good. Now comes the fun part of applying for PhD programs! Finally, today is the last day to write your paragraphs for the weekly challenge (although jos xx has already submitted one, so it's probably going to have to be good to win). Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


philippic [fɪˈlɪpɪk] n.

1.) Name for the orations of Demosthenes against Philip king of Macedon in defence of Athenian liberty; hence applied to Cicero's orations against Antony, and generally to any discourse of the nature of a bitter attack, invective, or denunciation.
2.) Used to render Greek ϕιλίππειον, "a gold coin coined by Philip of Macedon, worth £1 3s. 5d. of our money" (Liddell & Scott). Obs.

philippic a.

1.) Of or pertaining to any person called Philip (e.g. Sir Philip Sidney); of Philippi; of the nature of a philippic or invective.

—Hence Philippicize (-saɪz) v. intr., to utter a philippic or invective; also trans., to bring or put into some condition by doing this (Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition).

Etymology: adaptation of Latin Philippicus, adopted from Greek ϕιλιππικός, from Φίλιππος Philip (of Macedon). Compare modern French philippique.

"After spending the first day in seeking on every side some hole to get out at, like an animal first put into a cage, they gave up their resource. Yesterday they came forward boldly, and openly combated the proposition. Mr. Harper and Mr. Pinckney pronounced bitter philippics against France, selecting such circumstances and aggravations as to give the worst picture they could present" (The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Correspondence, Henry Augustine Washington (ed.), 1859).

(Démosthène s'exerçant à la parole, Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouÿ, 1870)

Credit to Lemons Don't Make Lemonade for bringing this word to my attention. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


vim [vɪm] n.

1.) Ebullient vitality and energy. Also as adv. (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language).

Etymology: Commonly regarded as an adoption of Latin vim, accusative singular of vis strength, energy; but the early adverbial use (see quote) suggests a purely imitative or interjectional origin.

"So I whipt up the mule I rid, the passun chirrupt and chuct to make his crittur gallop, but the animal didn't mind him a pic. I 'gan to snicker, an' the passun 'gan to git vext; sudden he thought of his spurs, so he ris up, an' drove them vim in his hoss's flanx, till they went through his saddle-blanket, and like to bored his nag to the holler." (Odd Leaves from the Life of a Louisiana "Swamp Doctor", Henry Clay Lewis and Felix Octavius Carr Darley, 1850).

(Pierwsze wyścigi konne na Polu Mokotowskim w Warszawie, January Suchodolski, 1849)

Another good scrabble word for you guys. Please keep the Linux jokes to a minimum!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wein, Weib, und Gesang

Wein, Weib, und Gesang [vaɪn vaɪp ʊnt gəˈzaŋ] n. phr.

1.) Wine, women, and song, proverbially considered the essential ingredients for carefree entertainment and pleasure by men (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: German, first popularized as the title of a 1869 waltz by Johann Strauss. Strauss probably took it from the anonymous couplet found in Martin Luther's room at Wartburg Castle: Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib, und Gesang / Der bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang [He who loves not wine, women, and song / will remain a fool his life long].

"And the education of women will always correspond to the notion of her held by men. Now we all know what that is, how men look on women: Wein, Weib, und Gesang, and so it goes in the verses of the poets. Take all poetry, all painting, all sculpture, beginning with erotic verse and naked Venuses and Phrynes, and you will see that woman is an instrument of pleasure, such she is at Truba and at Grachevka and at the finest ball" ("The Kreutzer Sonata", in The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy, David Goldfarb (trans.), 2003).

(Wein, Weib und Gesang, Josef Danhauser, 1839)

Just to be clear, that quote doesn't really capture the essence of the phrase (don't think it's quite so misogynistic). But I couldn't pass up a Tolstoy quote.

Anyway, now it's time to announce the winner of this week's contest. This was a tough one, as veterans D4 and jos xx faced a strong challenge from newcomers Katie and Lemons Don't Make Lemonade. But, in the end, experience won out and the victor was...jos xx! She wrote (continuing the story from last week):
"Even though I was determined to leave town, his infinite kindness towards me always held me back from fleeing. On the other hand, the guilt of being so madly in love with his wife was eating my insides every day. Often her coming in interrupted his droll stories with which he entertained us every evening. Most of the time his trenchant words would hurt her deeply...and I would want to kill him. I would find myself staring at her and feel this tortured velleity to be with her. And I suddenly remember New Year's when she accepted my dance invitation with an alacrity that surprised me. I felt a sudden frisson down my neck when she held my hand and led me to the dance floor, away from her husband's gaze..."
Well done again, jos xx. You're setting a pretty high standard here. (I hope I don't have send a book to Malta, that must be expensive! Just kidding.) I also feel like I should share D4's entry, as it was, as always, hilarious. He wrote:
"As you whimpered I felt something of a frisson. I didn't want to, I admit I never liked you, but I didn't think I could be so cruel. To have you so near was a mere velleity in my arsenal of thoughts and to be frank, I never really thought I'd have it in me to be so.. trenchant. You're a droll, Mr. Mencia, you really aren't funny, and it is too much of a rara avis for me to have a loaded gun as you lay there, defenseless. I can't pass this opportunity. This is going to happen."
Okay, so for next week, the words are your favorite 5 of: gallimaufry, truculent, mutatis mutandis, chutzpah, trahison des clercs, limn, and slough. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rhetoric - paralipsis

paralipsis [ˌpærəˈlɪpsɪs] n.

1.) A rhetorical figure in which the speaker emphasizes something by affecting to pass it by without notice, usually by such phrases as "not to mention", or "to say nothing of" (Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition).

Etymology: adopted from Greek παράλειψις passing by omission, from παραλείπειν to leave on one side, pass by; late Latin paralipsis (Aquila).

"quid vero? nuper cum morte superioris uxoris novis nuptiis locum vacuefecisses, nonne etiam alio incredibili scelere hoc scelus cumulavisti? quod ego praetermitto et facile patior sileri, ne in hac civitate tanti facinoris immanitas aut exstitisse aut non vindicata esse videatur" (Oratio Qva L. Catilinam Emisit In Senatv Habita, Marcus Tullius Cicero, 63 B.C.)

"What? when lately by the death of your former wife you had made your house empty and ready for a new bridal, did you not even add another incredible wickedness to this wickedness? But I pass that over, and willingly allow it to be buried in silence, that so horrible a crime may not be seen to have existed in this city, and not to have been chastised" (The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, C. D. Yonge and B. A. London (trans.), 1856).

(Cicerone denuncia Catilina, Cesare Maccari, 1889)

Hi all, just a quick reminder that today is the last day to submit your paragraphs for the weekly challenge. Hope everyone is having a good weekend. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 3, 2011


gallimaufry [ˌgæləˈmɔfri] n.

1.) A dish made by hashing up odds and ends of food; a hodge-podge, a ragout. rare exc. dial.
2.) transf. and fig. A heterogeneous mixture, a confused jumble, a ridiculous medley.
3.) A promiscuous assemblage (of persons).
4.) Said somewhat contemptuously of a person: A man of many accomplishments; a composite character. Now rare (O.E.D. 2nd Edition).

Etymology: French galimafrée, from Old French galimafree, sauce, ragout: probably galer, to make merry; + mafrer, to gorge oneself (from Middle Dutch moffelen, to open one's mouth wide, of imitative origin).

"—Ford: Well, I hope it be not so.
—Pistol: Hope is a curtal dog in some affairs: Sir John affects thy wife.
—Ford: Why, sir, my wife is not young.
—Pistol: He wooes both high and low, both rich and poor, Both young and old, one with another, Ford; He loves the gallimaufry: Ford, perpend" (The Merry Wives of Windsor, William Shakespeare, 1602).

(Falstaff und sein Page, Adolf Schrödter, 1867)

Thursday, September 1, 2011


truculent [ˈtrʌkyələnt] a.

1.) Characterized by or exhibiting ferocity or cruelty; fierce, cruel, savage, barbarous.
2.) Of speech or writing: Violent; rude; scathing; savage; harsh.
3.) transf. Of a disease: Destructive; deadly. Obs. rare.
4.) (In catachrestic use, associated with truck, truckle) Mean, base, mercenary (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: Latin truculentus, from trux, truc-, fierce.

"But Zeus who masses cloud
regarded him with frowning brows and said:
'Do not come whining here, you two-faced brute,
most hateful to me of all the Olympians.
Combat and brawling are your element.
This beastly, incorrigible truculence
comes from your mother, Hera, whom I keep
but barely in my power, say what I will'".
(The Iliad by Homer, Robert Fitzgerald (trans.), 1974)

(The Ludovisi Ares, Roman copy of Greek original, ~200)