The Devil's Dictionary - May 2009

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The Devil's Dictionary - May 2009

Post by MsDebby » Mon May 04, 2009 8:43 AM

Negativeland is the title of a slim novel that's written with a constraint. Here's how it begins:

"None of the stations played anything good, but I kept at the buttons, pushing off songs from a childhood we were all supposed to have had. Commercials bothered me more than ever, news was propaganda, and traffic reports were no more useful than the weather. It wasn't yet 1988, and I was driving home from Tacoma."

Notice anything interesting in this paragraph? Anything in common in the three sentences? Well, the title of the book gives a hint. Each sentence in this book has something negative going on. All 186 pages of it. And it's a tribute to the author that his self-imposed constraint doesn't constrain the storytelling. There's a long tradition of writing with self-imposed constraints. There's a group called Oulipo that has tried many things, often with admirable results (also see lipogram and univocalic).

To purge all the negativity, five words are featured that are positive counterparts of terms usually seen in negative forms.

evitable

PRONUNCIATION:
(EV-i-tuh-buhl)

MEANING:
adjective: Capable of being avoided or evaded.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin evitare (to avoid).

USAGE:
"Racers insist they do it 'for the glory', which is a shrewd way of saying they do it for no good reason. This is an Entirely Evitable Event."
Don Kahle; Kinetic Challenge Recalls Rickies; The Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon); Jul 18, 2008.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Mon May 04, 2009 11:09 AM

Funny how we hear inevitable all the time, but not evitable. I avoid lots of things!
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Post by MsDebby » Tue May 05, 2009 8:52 AM

wieldy

PRONUNCIATION:
(WEEL-dee)

MEANING:
adjective: Easily handled or managed.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Old English wealdan (to rule). Ultimately from the Indo-European root wal- (to be strong) that gave us the words valiant, avail, valor, and value.

USAGE:
"What Lotus means, of course, is that the Exige [car] is small and wieldy; that it can out-corner a mosquito."
Michael Booth; On Wheels: Lotus Exige S; The Independent (London, UK); Sep 3, 2006.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand. -Aharon Barak, law professor, former President of the Supreme Court of Israel (b.1936)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Tue May 05, 2009 11:37 AM

I have found that few things in life are weildy, perhaps because they involve people, and people rarely are.
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Post by MsDebby » Wed May 06, 2009 9:12 AM

exorable

PRONUNCIATION:
(EK-suhr-uh-buhl)

MEANING:
adjective: Capable of being persuaded or moved.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin exorare (to prevail upon), from ex- (out) + orare (to pray, beg).

USAGE:
"Without reform, the result is an exorable middle-class tax increase."
Jonathan Rauch; A Bad Tax With Good Timing; National Journal (Washington, DC); Mar 18, 2006.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
We hand folks over to God's mercy, and show none ourselves. -George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), novelist (1819-1880)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Wed May 06, 2009 11:05 AM

Independent voters are exorable.
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Post by MsDebby » Thu May 07, 2009 14:24 PM

gainly

PRONUNCIATION:
(GAYN-lee)

MEANING:
adjective: Graceful; dexterous.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Old Norse gegn (straight, direct).

USAGE:
"Poor Bob Stanfield. His flub of a football pass during the 1974 election campaign made Gerald Ford look gainly."
Sports and Politicians Are Not Always A Good Mix; Toronto Star (Canada); Jun 12, 2007.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Ready money is Aladdin's lamp. -Lord Byron, poet (1788-1824)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by MsDebby » Fri May 08, 2009 9:10 AM

corrigible

PRONUNCIATION:
(KOR-i-juh-buhl)

MEANING:
adjective: Capable of being corrected.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin corrigere (to correct). Ultimately from the Indo-European reg- (to move in a straight line, to lead or rule) that is also the source of regent, regime, direct, rectangle, erect, rectum, alert, source, and surge.

USAGE:
"[The regulator] should guide corrigible companies through their weaknesses to become more useful corporate citizens."
Patience Wheatcroft; FSA Should At Least Seek City's Respect; The Times (London, UK); Mar 4, 2005.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A man's name is not like a mantle which merely hangs about him, and which one perchance may safely twitch and pull, but a perfectly fitting garment, which, like the skin, has grown over and over him, at which one cannot rake and scrape without injuring the man himself. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Fri May 08, 2009 11:09 AM

Is anyone really corrigible, or are they faking it?
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Post by MsDebby » Mon May 11, 2009 9:05 AM

"They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs, they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole lot of them!" boasts Humpty-Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's 1872 classic, "Through the Looking Glass".

If verbs are in fact as conceited as Humpty-Dumpty claims them to be, perhaps they can be forgiven for their hoity-toity ways -- after all, they are the ones that bring a sentence to life. How many of this week's five verbs can you manage?

dissimulate

PRONUNCIATION:
(di-SIM-yuh-layt)

MEANING:
verb tr., intr.: To disguise one's intentions, thoughts, motives, etc. by pretense.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin dis- (apart, away) + simulare (to simulate), from similis (like). Ultimately from the Indo-European root sem- (one) that is also the source of simultaneous, assemble, simple, Sanskrit sandhi (union), Russian samovar (a metal urn), and Greek hamadryad (a wood nymph).

USAGE:
"Charles Clarke added: 'We need to talk straight to people, engaging the concerns and questions that they have, rather than appearing to evade and dissimulate.'"
Andrew Grice; Clarke: Brown Succession Is Not A Done Deal; The Independent (London, UK); Mar 29, 2007.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
O, what a world of vile ill-favoured faults, / Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a year! -William Shakespeare, playwright and poet (1564-1616)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Mon May 11, 2009 10:57 AM

See disingenuous.
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Post by MsDebby » Tue May 12, 2009 9:14 AM

cadge

PRONUNCIATION:
(kaj)

MEANING:
verb tr., intr.: To beg; to obtain by imposing on someone's generosity.

ETYMOLOGY:
Of uncertain origin.

USAGE:
"Sak Nana makes money the old-fashioned way. He earns it. ... He said, 'I wanted to stand on my own feet! People used to assume, incorrectly, that I could always cadge money from my parents.'"
Alfred Tha Hla; Riches to Rags to Revs; Bangkok Post (Thailand); Apr 24, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Not thinking critically, I assumed that the "successful" prayers were proof that God answers prayer while the failures were proof that there was something wrong with me. -Dan Barker, former preacher, musician (b. 1949)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Tue May 12, 2009 9:46 AM

I see plenty engaged in this behavior on DC street corners.
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Post by MsDebby » Wed May 13, 2009 9:03 AM

pretermit

PRONUNCIATION:
(pree-tuhr-MIT)

MEANING:
verb tr.:
1. To let pass without mention.
2. To suspend or to leave undone.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin praetermittere (to let pass), from praeter (beyond, past) + mittere (to let go, send).

USAGE:
"In fact, the old lady declined altogether to hear his [Rawdon Crawley's] hour's lecture of an evening; and when she came to Queen's Crawley alone, he was obliged to pretermit his usual devotional exercises."
William Makepeace Thackeray; Vanity Fair; 1847.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
To fully understand a grand and beautiful thought requires, perhaps, as much time as to conceive it. -Joseph Joubert, essayist (1754-1824)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Wed May 13, 2009 11:05 AM

That sounds like my management style.
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