Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rhetoric - epizeuxis

epizeuxis [ɛpɪˈzuːksɪs] n.

1.) The immediate, emphatic repetition of a word (Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd Ed.).

Etymology: Modern Latin, adopted from Greek ἐπίζευξις, a fastening upon, from ἐπιζευγνύναι: from ἐπί, upon + ζευγνύναι, to yoke.

"Und der vorsichtigste Menschenfreund wird hinzufügen: „nicht nur das Lachen und die fröhliche Weisheit, sondern auch das Tragische mit all seiner erhabenen Unvernunft gehört unter die Mittel und Nothwendigkeiten der Arterhaltung!“—Und folglich! Folglich! Folglich! Oh versteht ihr mich, meine Brüder? Versteht ihr dieses neue Gesetz der Ebbe und Fluth? Auch wir haben unsere Zeit!" (Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft, Friedrich Nietzsche, 1882).

"And the most cautious friend of man will add: 'Not only laughter and gay wisdom but also the tragic, will all its sublime unreason, belongs to the means and necessities of the preservation of the species.' And therefore! Therefore! Therefore! Oh, do you understand me, my brothers? Do you understand this new law of ebb and flood? We, too, have our time!" (The Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche, Josefine Nauckhoff (trans.), 2001).

(Odin und Fenriswolf, Freyr und Surt, Emil Doepler, ~1905)

Hi everyone, just a quick reminder that today is the last day to submit your entries into the weekly challenge (see here for details). Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


echt [ɛçt] a.

1.) Real; genuine.

echt adv.

1.) Really; genuinely (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language).

Etymology: German, from Middle High German, from Middle Low German echte; akin to Old High German eohaft, customary.

"Nevertheless, as we have seen, 'like the false Chelm, the echt Chelm also has its undertow of absurdity'...due to the hypertrophied textuality of diasporic Jewry. The echt Chelm is the wandering 'place' of Jewish linguistic lore, and is as much an attitude toward discourse as a canon or bound body of specific works." (The Ritual of New Creation: Jewish Tradition and Contemporary Literature, Norman Finkelstein, 1992).

(Der Watzmann, Caspar David Friedrich, 1825)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Arcades ambo

Arcades ambo [ˈɑːkədiːz ˈæmbəʊ] n.

1.) Two persons of the same tastes, profession, or character (often derogatory) (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: Latin, 'both Arcadians', i.e. both pastoral poets or musicians. The phrase originates in Virgil's Eclogues.

"Forte sub arguta consederat ilice Daphnis,
compulerantque greges Corydon et Thyrsis in unum,
Thyrsis ouis, Corydon distentas lacte capellas,
ambo florentes aetatibus, Arcades ambo,
et cantare pares et repondere parati" (Eclogues, Publius Vergilius Maro, ~38 B.C.).

"Daphnis beneath a whispering holm reclined,
And near him Corydon and Thyrsis join'd
Their flocks; his sheep one pastured on the lawn,
And one his goats with udders yet undrawn:
Both freshly blooming, both of Arcady,
Skill'd or to lead the lay, or to reply (Virgil, John Dryden, William Sotheby, and Francis Wrangham (trans.), 1830).

(The Arcadian or Pastoral State, Thomas Cole, 1834)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


prolix [proʊˈlɪks] a.

1.) Of long duration, lengthy, protracted.
2.) Of a speech or writing: extended to great length; long; lengthy. Usually with implication of excessive length: wordy, tedious.
3.) Of a person: Given to or characterized by tedious lengthiness in discourse or writing; long-winded.
4.) Long in measurement or extent. Now rare (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: Middle English, from Old French prolixe, from Latin prolixus, poured forth, extended, from pro- + lixus, past participle of liquēre, to flow, to be liquid.

"The direct, didactic, systematising, brevity of Aristotle contrasts remarkably with the indirect and circuitous prolixity, the multiplied suggestive comparisons, the shifting points of view, which we find in Plato" (Plato and the Other Companions of Sokrates, George Grote, 1867).

(Liseuse couronnée de fleurs ou la muse de Virgile, Camille Corot, 1845)

Monday, July 25, 2011


virago [vɪˈrɑgoʊ] n.

1.) Woman. (Only as the name given by Adam to Eve, after the Vulgate rendering of Gen. ii. 23.)
2.) A man-like, vigorous, and heroic woman; a female warrior; an amazon. Now rare.
3.) A bold, impudent (or wicked) woman; a termagant, a scold (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: adoption of Latin virāgo, a man-like or heroic woman, a female warrior, etc., from vir, man. Hence also Old French, French, and Spanish virago.

"'To arms, to arms!' the fierce virago cries,
And swift as lightning to the combat flies.
All side in parties, and begin th' attack;
Fans clap, silks rustle, and tough whalebones crack;
Heroes' and Heroines' shouts confus'dly rise,
And bass, and treble voices strike the skies" (The Rape of the Lock, Alexander Pope, 1712).

("Achilles killing the Amazon Queen Penthesilea", Exekias, 535 BC)

This week's honors in the weekly challenge go to...D4! Can he be stopped, is the question now, or am I actually going to have give away one of my precious books? He wrote what I believe is a poem (correct me if I'm wrong D4 cause the line breaks didn't come across) that goes:
You lucubrate every night in your little corner,
To fit with the hoi polloi of nature inchoate;
Your need of verdant paper subaltern only to the former
Suppresses the affection between you and this poet.
A very worthy effort, as I'm sure everyone will agree. An honorable mention also goes to PeaceLoveandSharpies, who came up with the crazy idea for this contest in the first place. You had a strong entry (and I love you too) but were just unlucky to come up against a D4 playing at the top of his game. So, this week's words are quiescent, a priori, quixotic, repine, assiduous, consanguinity, and mien (pick your favorite 5). Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rhetoric - synonymy

synonymy [sɪˈnɒnəmi] n. also synonymia and scesis onomaton

1.) The use of several synonymous words or phrases to amplify or explain a term or subject, or to add force and clarity to a statement. Synonymia can be used for dramatic or comic effect (Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd Ed.).

Etymology: Adaptation of late Latin synōnymia, adopted from Greek συνωνυµία, from συνώνυµος, synonym (cf. French synonymie).

"He's not pining, he has passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! He has expired and gone to meet his maker! He's a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed him to the perch, he'd be pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history! He's off the twig! He's kicked the bucket, he's shuffled off his mortal coil, rung down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible!" (The Parrot Sketch, John Cleese and Graham Chapman, 1969).

(De Triomf van de Dood, Pieter Bruegel, 1562)

Hi all, just a quick reminder that today is the last day to submit your weekly challenge entries. See here for details. Also, thanks for all the encouragement about my thesis. (I was just joking about the nerdy Alexander drinking game, by the way, but it's nice to know that you guys consider me capable of it!)

Friday, July 22, 2011


quiescent [kwiˈɛsənt] a.

1.) Motionless, inactive, at rest.
2.) Of a letter: not sounded, silent; specifically in Hebrew grammar.
3.) Of a person: silent, not speaking. rare.
4.) Electronics. Corresponding to or characterized by an absence of an input to a device ready to receive one.

Etymology: Latin quiescens, present participle of quiescere, to rest, from quies, quiet.

"Luther's shoes on the floor beneath the chamber pot, placid, possibly made of wood, Luther's 16th-century shoes, awaiting epiphany. The mute quiescent suffering of generations of salesmen in the stalls of train-station johns, heads down, fingers laced, shined shoes inert, awaiting the acid gush" (Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace, 1996).

(東海道五十三次之内, 歌川広重, ~1832)

On a personal note, I finished the first draft of my thesis today, which I'm pretty happy about. Time to party my face off...I think I'll watch Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut and drink every time there's a historical inaccuracy! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

a priori

a priori [ˌeɪ praɪˈɔraɪ] advb. and adj. phr.

1.) A phrase used to characterize reasoning or arguing from causes to effects, from abstract notions to their conditions or consequences, from propositions or assumed axioms (and not from experience); deductive; deductively.
2.) Hence loosely: Previous to any special examination, presumptively, in accordance with one's previous knowledge or prepossessions.
3.) By some metaphysicians used for: Prior to experience; innate in the mind.

Etymology: Medieval Latin a priori: Latin a, from + priori, ablative of prior, former.

"Es ist also wenigstens eine der näheren Untersuchung noch benötigte und nicht auf den ersten Anschein sogleich abzufertigende Frage: ob es ein dergleichen von der Erfahrung und selbst von allen Eindrücken der Sinne unabhängiges Erkenntnis gebe. Man nennt solche Erkenntnisse a priori, und unterscheidet sie von den empirischen, die ihre Quellen a posteriori nämlich in der Erfahrung, haben" (Kritik der reinen Vernunft (zweiten Auflage), Immanuel Kant, 1787).

"It is therefore at least a question requiring closer investigation, and one not to be dismissed at first glance, whether there is any such cognition independent of all experience and even of all impressions of the senses. One calls such cognitions a priori, and distinguishes them from empirical ones, which have their sources a posteriori, namely in experience" (Critique of Pure Reason (2nd Ed.) by Immanuel Kant, Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (trans.), 1998).

(Creazione di Adamo, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, 1511)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


quixotic [kwɪkˈsɒtɪk] a.

1.) Caught up in the romance of noble deeds and the pursuit of unreachable goals; idealistic without regard to practicality.
2.) Capricious; impulsive (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language).

Etymology: From English Quixote, a visionary, after Don Quixote, hero of a romance by Miguel de Cervantes.

"While the rubbing out of obscenities is the most self-conscious (and self-defeating) effort in Catcher, the very fantasy of being the 'catcher in the rye' is itself a notion of quixotic hopefulness" (J.D. Salinger, Harold Bloom (ed.), 2008).

(Südliche Landschaft mit Don Quixote, Oswald Achenbach, 1850)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


repine [rɪˈpaɪn] v.i.

1.) To be discontented or low in spirits; complain or fret.
2.) To yearn after something: "Immigrants who repined for their homeland" (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language).

Etymology: Middle English repinen, to be aggrieved : re- + pinen, to yearn.

"The night of sorrow now is turn'd to day:
Her two blue windows faintly she up-heaveth,
Like the fair sun, when in his fresh array
He cheers the morn, and all the earth relieveth:
    And as the bright sun glorifies the sky,
    So is her face illumin'd with her eye;

Whose beams upon his hairless face are fix'd,
As if from thence they borrow'd all their shine.
Were never four such lamps together mix'd,
Had not his clouded with his brows' repine;
    But hers, which through the crystal tears gave
    Shone like the moon in water seen by night" (Venus and Adonis, William Shakespeare, 1593).

Note: Shakespeare uses "repine" as a noun here.

(Venus und Adonis, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, ~1800)

Monday, July 18, 2011


assiduous [əˈsɪdʒuəs] a.

1.) Of persons or agents: Constant in application to the business in hand, persevering, sedulous, unwearyingly diligent.
2.) Constantly endeavouring to please, obsequiously attentive. arch.
3.) Of actions: Unremitting, persistent, constant.
4.) Of things: Constant, regular. Obs. (O.E.D. 2nd Edition).

Etymology: From Latin assiduus, from assidere, to attend to : ad- + sedere, to sit.

   "John Eglinton looked in the tangled glowworm of his lamp.
   —The world believes that Shakespeare made a mistake, he said, and got out of it as quickly and as best he could.
   —Bosh! Stephen said rudely. A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.
   Portals of discovery opened to let in the quaker librarian, softcreakfooted, bald, eared and assiduous" (Ulysses, James Joyce, 1922).

(Telemachus and Mentor, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1730)

Hi, all. This week's honors in the "Climbing the Mountain" challenge go to shari. She wrote:
The drawing she made of her mother was prima facie a propitiatory offering; more beauty was found in the lineament of the portrait than in reality. The rendering seemed emulous of Toulouse Lautrec, though it was unlikely, as her art studies were her violon d'Ingres, which she enjoyed hermetically.
Nice work, there, shari. It actually reads fairly well, considering. An honorable mention also goes to D4, who wrote a hilarious passage that made me question his sanity. (A highlight was: "a prima facie point of view would assume this meant he'd love condoms, when in reality, he's emulous towards them, wishing to some day become a latex balloon".) So, the challenge for next Monday is to use 5 of subaltern, solipsism, atavism, inchoate, verdant, lucubrate, and hoi polloi in a paragraph. Good luck and thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rhetoric - epistrophe

epistrophe [ɪˈpɪstrəfi] n.

1.) The emphatic repetition of a sound, word, or phrase at the end of successive clauses, verses, or sentences. One of the best-known examples of epistrophe in American rhetoric is in the concluding sentence of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: "and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." Also termed "epiphora" (Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd Edition).

Etymology: Modern Latin, adopted from Greek ἐπιστροϕή: from ἐπί, upon + στροϕή, a turning, from στρέϕειν, to turn.

"For when we have faced down impossible odds, when we've been told we're not ready or that we shouldn't try or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness: Yes, we can" ("New Hampshire Primary Defeat Speech", Barack Obama, 2008).

(Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way, Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, 1861)

Just a quick reminder that today is the last day for your submissions to the weekly challenge: a paragraph using 5 of emulous, propitiatory, prima facie, lineament, hermetic, violon d'Ingres, and weltschmerz. Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 15, 2011


subaltern [sʌbˈɔltərn or ˈsʌbəlˌtɜrn] a.

1.) Lower in position or rank; secondary.
2.) Chiefly British. Holding a military rank just below that of captain.
3.) Logic. In the relation of a particular proposition to a universal with the same subject, predicate, and quality.

subaltern n.

1.) A subordinate.
2.) Chiefly British. A subaltern officer.
3.) Logic. A subaltern proposition (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language).

Etymology: French subalterne, from Old French, from Late Latin subalternus: Latin sub- + alternus, alternate.

"Consider this still-life by one of the inmates: the melon, cleft in twain, a severed completeness; an island identity isolated from the whole, proxy for the prisoner removed from society. Foregrounded, the reduction becomes amplification, hegemonic-historical myth-making undercut by the end-space non-scape [sic] of the white. This is canvas—as theater—of existential warfare; an insurgency of the voiceless subaltern" (The Colbert Report, Barry Julien (head writer), July 14th 2011).

(Nature morte au melon, Claude Monet, 1872)

Thursday, July 14, 2011


solipsism [ˈsɒlɪpˌsɪzəm] n.

1.) The theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified.
2.) The theory or view that the self is the only reality.

Etymology: Latin solus, alone + ipse, self + -ism.

"Well. What happens when paranoid meets paranoid? A crossing of solipsisms. Clearly. The two patterns create a third: a moiré, a new world of flowing shadows, interferences..." (Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon, 1973).

(Un bar aux Folies Bergère, Édouard Manet, 1882)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


atavism [ˈætəˌvɪzəm] n.

1.) The reappearance of a characteristic in an organism after several generations of absence, usually caused by the chance recombination of genes.
2.) An individual or a part that exhibits atavism. Also called "throwback".
3.) The return of a trait or recurrence of previous behavior after a period of absence (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language).

Etymology: French atavisme, from Latin atavus, ancestor: atta, father + avus, grandfather.

"Anyway, hence the atavistic shark fetish, which I need to admit came back with a long-repressed vengeance on this Luxury Cruise, and that I made such a fuss about the one (possible) dorsal fin I saw off starboard that my companions at supper's Table 64 finally had to tell me, with all possible tact, to shut up about the fin already" ("A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again", David Foster Wallace, 1995).

(Atavism at Twilight, Salvador Dalí, 1934)

Anyone seen The Tree of Life yet? I saw it last night and I haven't made up my mind about it yet. It did take me back to my childhood in a way that no film ever has, there were some amazing shots of space and Earth, a few moments when the score really worked, and Brad Pitt gave a good performance. It probably could have been a great movie if he had just edited out the annoying and pretentious voice-overs and shot the thing without all the shaky, hand-held camera-work and wide-angle-lens nonsense.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


inchoate [ɪnˈkoʊɪt] a.

1.) Just begun, incipient; in an initial or early stage; hence elementary, imperfect, undeveloped, immature.
2.) Chaotic, disordered, confused; also, incoherent, rambling. (Often regarded as unetymologically developed through confusion with "chaotic", though perhaps better explained as a regular development from "undeveloped" to "lacking structure".)

inchoate n.

1.) A beginning, rudiment. rare.

Etymology: Latin inchoatus, past participle of inchoare, to begin, alteration of incohare: in- + cohum, strap from yoke to harness.

"In his 'Empirical Survey of Empiricisms,' Dewey said that we needed 'a new concept of experience and a new type of empiricism'—one that invoked neither the Greek contrast of experience and reason nor the atomistic sensationalism of Hume, Mill, and Russell. But he admitted that 'this third view of is still more or less inchoate.' Most of Dewey's critics felt that it was not only inchoate but confused and disingenuous" (Truth and Progress, Richard Rorty, 1998).

(No. 5, Jackson Pollock, 1948)

Monday, July 11, 2011


verdant [ˈvɜrdnt] a.

1.) Covered with growing plants or grass; green; fresh; flourishing; as, verdant fields; a verdant lawn.
2.) Unripe in knowledge or judgment; unsophisticated; raw; green; as, a verdant youth (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary).

Etymology: French verdoyant, from Old French, present participle of verdoyer, to become green, from Vulgar Latin viridiare, from Latin viridis.

"And as migrating birds, nation by nation,
wild geese and arrow-throated cranes and swans
over Asia's meadowland and marshes
around the streams of Kaystrios, with giant
fight and glorying wings keep beating down
in tumult on that verdant land
that echoes to their pinions, even so,
nation by nation, from the ships and huts,
this host debouched upon Skamander plain" (The Iliad by Homer, Robert Fitzgerald, 1974).

(The Voyage of Life: Youth, Thomas Cole, 1840)

This week's honors in the "Climbing the Mountain" challenge go to D4. He wrote:
"Why aren't you exercising your nous, Bruce." Said Alfred, "You've been in desuetude lately, the death of Selina Kyle is germane to this, I'm sure." To which Batman responded: "I will not face your obloquy right now, Alfred. I'm effete, please leave me alone."
Some of the words seem a little crow-barred in (especially "desuetude"), but well done, I like the Batman theme. The words this week are (five of) emulous, propitiatory, prima facie, lineament, hermetic, violon d'Ingres, and weltschmerz. Good luck and thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rhetoric - aenos

aenos [ˈaɪnɒs] n.

1.) The use of erudite words or allusions to appeal to the learned (Literary Companion Dictionary, David Grambs (ed.), 1985).
2.) A saying or a sentence, taken out of a tale, as be the interpretations of fables, and their allegories (A Treatise of Schemes and Tropes, Richard Sherry, 1550).

Etymology: Latin, from Ancient Greek αἶνος, tale, story, saying, praise.

"As to references in the margin to the books and authors from whom you take the aphorisms and sayings you put into your story, it is only contriving to fit in nicely any sentences or scraps of Latin you may happen to have by heart, or at any rate that will not give you much trouble to look up; so as, when you speak of freedom and captivity, to insert:
Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro;
and then refer in the margin to Horace, or whoever said it; or, if you allude to the power of death, to come in with—
Pallida mors Aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas, Regumque turres.
If it be friendship and the love God bids us bear to our enemy, go at once to the Holy Scriptures, which you can do with a very small amount of research, and quote no less than the words of God himself: Ego autem dico vobis: diligite inimicos vestros ... With these and such like bits of Latin they will take you for a grammarian at all events, and that now-a-days is no small honour and profit" (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, John Ormsby (trans.), 1885).

(Dulcinea del Toboso, The Peasant Mistress of Don Quixote, Charles Robert Leslie, 1839)

So, here's the explanation for the name of my blog (it's also a real mountain in Greece, which according to legend was ruled by Odysseus). Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


emulous [ˈɛmyələs] a.

1.) Ambitiously desirous to equal or even to excel another; eager to emulate or vie with another; desirous of like excellence with another. Constructed with "of", as emulous of another's example or virtues.
2.) Vying with; rivaling; hence, contentious, envious (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary).

Etymology: From Latin aemulus of the same meaning.

"αὐτὰρ ὃ μήνιε νηυσὶ παρήμενος ὠκυπόροισι
διογενὴς Πηλῆος υἱὸς πόδας ὠκὺς Ἀχιλλεύς:
οὔτέ ποτ᾽ εἰς ἀγορὴν πωλέσκετο κυδιάνειραν
οὔτέ ποτ᾽ ἐς πόλεμον, ἀλλὰ φθινύθεσκε φίλον κῆρ
αὖθι μένων, ποθέεσκε δ᾽ ἀϋτήν τε πτόλεμόν τε" (Ἰλιάς, Ὅμηρος, ~850 BCE).

"Meanwhile unstirring and with smoldering heart,
the godlike athlete, son of Peleus, Prince
Akhilleus waited by his racing ships.
He would not enter the assembly
of emulous men, nor ever go to war,
but felt his valor staling in his breast
with idleness, and missed the cries of battle" (The Iliad of Homer, Robert Fitzgerald (trans.), 1974).

(Venus, Wounded by Diomedes, Returns to Olympus, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1800)

Thursday, July 7, 2011


propitiatory [prəˈpɪʃiəˌtɔri] n.

1.) The golden covering placed upon the Ark of the Covenant and regarded as the resting-place of God. Hence applied to the throne of God in Heaven, and to Christ as ‘the propitiation for our sins’.
2.) Theol. A propitiation; an offering of atonement; esp. said of Christ. Obs.

propitiatory a.

1.) That propitiates or tends to propitiate; of or pertaining to propitiation; appeasing, atoning, conciliating, expiatory; ingratiating (O.E.D. 2nd Edition).

Etymology: Adoption of Late Latin propitiatorium (a rendering of the Koine Greek ἱλαστήριον), place of atonement: noun use of neuter singular of propitiatorius, atoning, reconciling, whence the adj.

"οἳ δὲ πανημέριοι μολπῇ θεὸν ἱλάσκοντο
καλὸν ἀείδοντες παιήονα κοῦροι Ἀχαιῶν
μέλποντες ἑκάεργον: ὃ δὲ φρένα τέρπετ᾽ ἀκούων" (Ἰλιάς, Ὅμηρος, ~850 BCE).

"Propitiatory songs rose clear and strong
until day's end, to praise the god, Apollo,
as One Who Keeps the Plague Afar; and listening
the god took joy" (The Iliad by Homer, Robert Fitzgerald (trans.), 1974).

(Apollo Belvedere, Unknown artist, ~130)

Just a quick word about the pronunciation of yesterday's phrase, "prima facie": there are quite a few ways of pronouncing this. The one I gave yesterday seems to be the British way. I think the standard American way (this is what I've always said anyway) is "pree-muh fay-shuh", which is also probably as close to the original Latin pronunciation as you can get without annoying everyone. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

prima facie

prima facie [ˈpraɪmə ˈfeɪʃi] adv. phr.

1.) At first sight; on the face of it; as appears at first without investigation (O.E.D. 2nd Ed.).

Etymology: Middle English (where it meant 'manifestly'), from Latin prima facie: prima, feminine ablative of primus, first + facie, ablative of facies, shape, face.

"Why did the Marxian analysis of the commodity-form—which, prima facie, concerns a purely economic question—exert such an influence in the general field of social sciences; why has it fascinated generations of philosophers, sociologists, art historians, and others?" (The Sublime Object of Ideology, Slavoj Zizek, 1989).

(Gdańsk w XVII wieku, Wojciech Gerson, 1865)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


lineament [ˈlɪniəmənt] n.

1.) A line; also, a delineation, diagram, outline, sketch; pl. outlines, designs. lit. and fig. Obs.
2.) A minute portion, a trace; pl. elements, rudiments. Obs.
3.) A portion of the body, considered with respect to its contour or outline, a distinctive feature. Obs. (In the 17–18th c. very frequently applied to the parts of insects.)
4.) fig. in pl. Distinctive features or characteristics. (Now associated with sense 5.)
5.) In narrower sense, a portion of the face viewed with respect to its outline; a feature.

Etymology: Middle English liniament, from Latin lineamentum, from linea, line.

"All literature writes the character of the wise man. Books, monuments, pictures, conversation, are portraits in which he finds the lineaments he is forming" ("History", Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841).

(Self-Portrait, Leonardo da Vinci, ~1513)

Monday, July 4, 2011


hermetic [hɜrˈmɛtɪk] a.

1.) (With capital initial.) Pertaining to Hermes Trismegistus, and the philosophical, theosophical, and other writings ascribed to him.
2.) transf. and fig. Hence, relating to or dealing with occult science, especially alchemy; magical; alchemical. Also, unaffected by external influences, recondite. Hermetic seal, hermetic sealing: air tight closure of a vessel, especially a glass vessel, by fusion, soldering, or welding; also applied in Surgery to a method of dressing wounds. Hence hermetic for ‘hermetically sealed’.
3.) Pertaining to the god Hermes.
4.) Of or pertaining to a Herma: as hermetic column (O.E.D. 2nd Edition).

Etymology: New Latin hermeticus, alchemical, from Medieval Latin Hermes (Trismegistus).

"Bewitch hermetic men to run
Stark staring mad with manicon;
Believe mechanic virtuosi
Can raise 'em mountains in Potosi;
And sillier than the antic fools,
Take treasure for a heap of coals;
Seek out for plants with signatures,
To quack of universal cures."
(Hudibras, Samuel Butler, 1684)

(The Alchemist in Search of the Philosophers Stone, Joseph Wright, 1771)

Hi readers, the winner of this week's "Climbing the Mountain" challenge is Intraman, of Daily Korean Stuff fame. His entry looked like:

"His prose tried to conceal his attempts at reifying women behind abstruse words and odd tropes. This, however, fooled no one and the scintillation of his latent misogyny could easily be perceived behind the veil of his convoluted logorrhea. That he dared entitle his essay "In Defense of Women" was truly the apotheosis of bad faith."

Well done Intraman. My only criticism would be that "reify" is not the same as "objectify", which is what I think you meant: women are already all-too-real, so it's impossible to reify them! So, Intraman actually gets two points because I accidentally deleted his entry and he had to redo it (see the new scoreboard on the right). The first person to five points gets a free book.

This week's words are "germane", "finical", "effete", "desuetude", "obloquy", "largess", and "nous". You only have to use 5 out of those 7. So, good luck and, as always, thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Rhetoric - anacoluthon

anacoluthon [ˌænəkəˈluθɒn] n.

1.) Rhetoric. A construction in which grammatical cohesion is lacking within a sentence, characterized by a change from one grammatical form to another, disharmonious form. An anacoluthon usually occurs when the speaker suddenly changes the thought or point of view (He was warned that he had to shape up or what could he expect to happen?). Sometimes it occurs as an instance of aposiopesis to heighten the rhetorical effect (If I don't find my keys in the next ten minutes—well, you don't want to know what will happen!) (Garner's Modern American Usage 3rd Edition).

Etymology: Late Latin, from Late Greek anakolouthon, inconsistency in logic, from Greek, neuter of anakolouthos, inconsistent: an-, not + akolouthos, following (a-, together + keleuthos, path).

"Dean stood in the cafeteria rubbing his belly and taking it all in. He wanted to talk to a strange middle-aged colored woman who had come into the cafeteria with a story about how she had no money but she had buns with her and would they give her butter" (On the Road, Jack Kerouac, 1957).

(Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Pablo Picasso, 1907)

A couple of reminders: first, today is the last day to submit your entries in the "Climbing the Mountain" weekly challenge (see here for details); second, this word is a term of rhetoric and is therefore not part of the usual MA program. I wouldn't use any of the rhetorical terms in a paper (unless you're a Literature student). They're purely a means to learn rhetoric (and this not in order to use rhetoric, but more to sneer at it). Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 2, 2011


germane also german [dʒərˈmeɪn] a.

1.) Having the same parents; ‘own’ (brother or sister). Obs. except in 'brother-german', 'sister-german'.
2.) That is the child of a ‘german’ brother or sister of either of (one's) parents; = ‘first’ or ‘own’ (cousin). Obs. except in 'cousin-german'.
3.) Closely related; akin. Obs.
4.) Closely connected; appropriate; relevant; pertinent. Construed with 'to'. This sense arises from allusion to the Shakespeare passage (below), which is merely a figurative example of sense 3.
5.) Genuine; true; thorough. Obs. or arch. (O.E.D. 2nd Edition).

Etymology: Middle English germain, having the same parents; closely connected, from Old French, from Latin germanus, from germen, offshoot.

"—Osric: The carriages, sir, are the hangers.
—Hamlet: The phrase would be more german to the matter, if we
could carry cannon by our sides: I would it might
be hangers till then. But, on: six Barbary horses
against six French swords, their assigns, and three
liberal-conceited carriages; that's the French bet
against the Danish. Why is this 'imponed,' as you call it?" (Hamlet, William Shakespeare, ~1600).

(The Young Lord Hamlet, Philip Hermogenes Calderon, 1868)

Sorry I didn't post yesterday or the day before. I was too busy working on the thesis. Thanks for reading!