Wednesday, October 12, 2011

miasma



miasma [maɪˈæzmə] n.

1.) Infectious or noxious exhalations from putrescent organic matter; poisonous particles or germs floating in and polluting the atmosphere; noxious emanations, especially malaria (Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition).

Etymology: modern Latin, adopted from Greek µίασµα, pollution, related to µιαίνειν, to pollute. Cf. French miasme.

"A door slammed. 'Primo,' I said—or meant to say. But he was gone. Never apologize. Never explain. I stepped carefully down the alley, leaned around the corner, and felt my way brick by brick back to my car. Some son of a bitch had snatched the flower off the hood. I got in and drove out of town, through the shining miasma of my drunkenness, turned off the highway, and went up a steep dirt road that led to a pass between a pair of cactus-studded hills" ("In Defense of the Redneck", Edward Abbey, 1979).

(Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah)
______________________________________________________

Here's a rare tribute to my Southwestern heritage (the quote and the picture, not the word). Extra points to anyone who had heard of Edward Abbey before!

20 comments:

Hasidic Plumber said...

That would be a really putrid fart. Or very close to that.

Mai Yang said...

some kind of a virus?

it's been a while..your comment really made me smile somehow. :)

D4 said...

I wouldn't have figured how to use the word if not for the quote.

Meri said...

I knew this word but I guess I didn't know its meaning- its much more negative than I thought.

Crisalys said...

I had never heard of Edward Abbey before. That was nice. I'll be following you.

Bibi said...

Wow, I think the definition of today's word was almost more difficult to understand than the word itself. Anyhow, it's good to challenge my limited English language skills! :D

JayJay said...

Lovely picture. Sadly, haven't heard of Edward Abbey before.

As to the word, this is one I know well due to my obsession with dinosaurs. Miasma is often used to describe swamp lands where dinosaurs live.

HYDRIOTAPHIA said...

Noy heard of Abbey before but his use of the word 'miasma' is highly poetic even untrue by literal definition. I'll check him out on wiki, so may american writers unheard of and unread in Europe.
I think European writers 'travel' better as more often writing about universals rather than their native continent.

Jenny Woolf said...

"Miasma" is a wonderful word to use creatively when evoking a particular feeling or atmosphere in fiction.

ironchefman said...

"Miasma theory" also describes the archaic theory that "bad air" caused diseases. From history, I think we can see that holding one's breath doesn't quite stop the plague.

DEZMOND said...

ooh, the word itself sounds ominous :)

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I don't get points for Edward Abbey, but you get points for Red Green!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I must admit that I learned this word from playing Dwarf Fortress.

Shutterbug said...

the word is fun to say! Miasma...

i_love_weed said...

i didnt even know that word before today

shari said...

Don't know Edward Abbey, but I've been to Delicate Arch and photographed it, as well. Do I get points for that?

I'm well aware of the word "miasma"... I live around people who fart without compunction. lol.

My 2 Pesos said...

I knew this. (:

Lhosreiff said...

A shame such a mystical word carries such a negative connotation.

Henry said...

Hah, I knew this one from Inuyasha.

MRanthrope said...

Miasma, the title of The Black Dahlia Murder's 2nd album =p

Post a Comment