The Devil's Dictionary - May 2009

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Post by MsDebby » Thu May 14, 2009 9:36 AM

wend

PRONUNCIATION:
(wend)

MEANING:
verb tr., intr.: To travel along a route.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Old English wendan.

NOTES:
If you've ever wondered why we have the peculiar form "went" as the past tense of the word go (go, went, gone), today's word is the culprit. "Went" is the archaic past form of "wend". In current usage, the past form of wend is wended. The word is typically used in the phrase "to wend one's way".

USAGE:
"Federal stimulus dollars are starting to wend their way from Washington to Watertown and other communities nationwide."
Erin Ailworth; A Slice of the Stimulus; The Boston Globe; Apr 29, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
We take our colors, chameleon-like, from each other. -Sebastien-Roch-Nicolas de Chamfort, writer (1741-1794)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Thu May 14, 2009 11:21 AM

I wend my bike to work along the same route; realistically there ain't no other way!
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Post by MsDebby » Fri May 15, 2009 8:55 AM

brachiate

PRONUNCIATION:
(verb: BRAY-kee-ayt, BRAK-ee-ayt, adjective: BRAY-kee-it, BRAK-ee-it)

MEANING:
verb intr.: To move by swinging from one hold to another by using arms.
adjective: Having arms.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin brachiatus (having arms), from brachium (arm), from Greek brakhion (upper arm). Ultimately from the Indo-European root mregh-u- (short) that is also the source of brief, abbreviate, abridge, brassiere, and brumal.

USAGE:
"Thick-furred, with a red face, the monkey moves by sprawling out and brachiating from branch to branch through the high forest canopy."
Roger Rosenblatt; Earth's Green Gown; Time (New York); Jun 17, 2004.

"The new superfriends head out on their first missions: the isotope feint and a related museum heist, which allows Sydney to dress in cat-burglar clothes and brachiate around an unguarded exhibition."
Virginia Heffernan; Yet More of One Face in Season 4 of 'Alias'; The New York Times; Jan 5, 2005.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Prison: Young Crime's finishing school. -Clara Lucas Balfour, social activist (1808-1878)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Fri May 15, 2009 11:08 AM

Seamen and swashbucklers doubtlessly learned to brachiate.
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Post by MsDebby » Mon May 18, 2009 14:39 PM

Clothing -- one of the three necessities in life. No wonder words about clothing and fabrics are woven into our language. There are numerous idioms: people are advised not to wash their dirty linen in public, even adults like to have their security blankets, though emperors often don't have clothes.

The word silken can be used to describe food and voice and touch; from woolgathering to cottonpickin', the list of idiomatic use of fabric words is a long one.

This week we'll look at five terms that make use of fabrics metaphorically.
tweedy

PRONUNCIATION

ETYMOLOGY:
After tweed, a coarse woolen fabric made in twill weave, preferred in casual wear, for example those in academia or in the country. The origin of the word tweed is not certain. It's probably an alteration of Scots tweel, influenced by the river Tweed that flows along the border between England and Scotland.

USAGE:
"Ramrod-tall, blue-eyed and aquiline, with a high forehead swept clear of thin, fair hair, [William Hurt] even looked clever, like a tweedy young professor of letters on secondment to Hollywood."
Jasper Rees; William Hurt is Back on Top of His Game; The Sunday Times (London, UK); May 3, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the same sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Tue May 19, 2009 11:35 AM

All my clothes are tweedy. Aren't yours?
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Post by MsDebby » Tue May 19, 2009 11:44 AM

Right now, all of my clothes are wrinkled having been in the suitcase for over 24 hrs. As expected, my suitcase travelled to places unknown without me and not delivered until late yesterday evening.
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by MsDebby » Wed May 20, 2009 7:18 AM

woolly

PRONUNCIATION:
(WOOL-ee)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Fuzzy; unclear; confused; vague; disorganized; rough.
2. Of or relating to wool.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Old English wull.

USAGE:
"Edward Scicluna: This woolly and opaque way of reporting and forecasting must stop."
Charlot Zahra; Is Restarting the Excessive Deficit Procedure Justified? Business Today (Malta); May 13, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
"The last word" is the most dangerous of infernal machines; and husband and wife should no more fight to get it than they would struggle for the possession of a lighted bomb-shell. -Douglas William Jerrold, playwright and humorist (1803-1857)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Wed May 20, 2009 11:22 AM

I've noticed a lot of wolly thinking in government agencies.

Congrats on reuniting with your suitcase.
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Post by MsDebby » Thu May 21, 2009 14:20 PM

cotton

PRONUNCIATION:
(KOT-uhn)

MEANING:
verb intr.:
1. To become fond of; to get on well together.
2. To come to understand (in the phrase "to cotton to" or "cotton on to").

ETYMOLOGY:
Via French and Italian from Arabic qutun (cotton). The idiomatic usage of the term as a verb refers to the mixing of another material, such as wool, with cotton and perhaps from the idea of cotton fiber clinging well to something.

USAGE:
"Marketers and retailers have already cottoned on to the fact that, since the entire culture is defiantly refusing to grow up, parents and children are all now approximately the same age. We've got the same music on our iPods."
Karen von Hahn; I Like to Hang Out With My Teenager; The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada); Sep 1, 2007.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
All high truth is poetry. Take the results of science: they glow with beauty, cold and hard as are the methods of reaching them. -Charles Buxton, brewer, philanthropist, writer and politician (1823-1871)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by MsDebby » Fri May 22, 2009 17:51 PM

plushy

PRONUNCIATION:
(PLUSH-ee)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Characterized by luxury, extravagance, or ease.
2. Or or related to plush: soft and shaggy.

ETYMOLOGY:
From plush, a fabric of silk, rayon, cotton, or wool, having a long pile. From French pluche, a variant of peluche, from Latin pilus (hair).

USAGE:
"The warm, dark glow and plushy tone so typical of Central European orchestras from the late 19th century on seems steeped in the Staatskapelle's bones."
Wynne Delacoma; Staatskapelle Berlin at Symphony Center; Chicago Sun-Times; Dec 12, 2000.

"But since Hugo left university in June, he has not strolled into the sort of plushy job that supposedly awaits our hordes of upper-second graduates when they roar onto the job market."
Rachel Johnson; Graduates Get Jobs -- But No Pay; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Dec 5, 2003.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
At the bottom of a good deal of the bravery that appears in the world there lurks a miserable cowardice. Men will face powder and steel because they cannot face public opinion. -Edwin Hubbel Chapin, minister and orator (1814-1880)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Sat May 23, 2009 12:28 PM

I cotton with pretty much everyone here. I wish I could afford a plushy lifestyle. Maybe someday.
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Post by MsDebby » Mon May 25, 2009 9:59 AM

We may think only mathematicians or economists or auditors have to deal with numbers, but numbers are everywhere. They're in beautiful patterns, they are in the spiral of a mollusk, in the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower, and beyond.

Though it may not be obvious at first glance, all of this week's words have their origins in numbers.


decussate

PRONUNCIATION:
(verb: di-KUHS-ayt, DEK-uh-sayt, adjective: di-KUHS-ayt, -it)

MEANING:
verb tr.:
To intersect or to cross.

adjective:
1. Intersected or crossed in the form of an X.
2. Arranged in pairs along the stem, each pair at a right angle to the one above or below.

ETYMOLOGY:
The word originated from Latin "as" (plural asses) which was a copper coin and the monetary unit in ancient Rome. The word for ten asses was decussis, from Latin decem (ten) + as (coin). Since ten is represented by X, this spawned the verb decussare, meaning to divide in the form of an X or intersect.

NOTES:
Samuel Johnson, lexicographer extraordinaire, has a well-deserved reputation for his magnum opus "A Dictionary of the English Language", but as they say, even Homer nods. He violated one of the dictums of lexicography -- do not define a word using harder words than the one being defined -- when he used today's word and two other uncommon words in defining the word network:
Network: Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections.
And what is "reticulated"? Again, according to Johnson:
Reticulated: Made of network; formed with interstitial vacuities.

USAGE:
"How I wished then that my body, too, if it had to droop and shrivel, for surely everyone's did, would furl and decussate with grace to sculpt the victory of my spirit."
J. Nozipo Maraire; Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter; Delta; 1997.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Life's most urgent question is: what are you doing for others? -Martin Luther King, Jr , civil-rights leader (1929-1968)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Mon May 25, 2009 13:17 PM

I decussate many streets on my way to work.
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Post by MsDebby » Tue May 26, 2009 7:34 AM

hecatomb

PRONUNCIATION:
(HEK-uh-toom, -tom)

MEANING:
noun: A large-scale slaughter.

ETYMOLOGY:
Originally a hecatomb was a public sacrifice and feast of 100 oxen or cattle to the gods in ancient Greece and Rome. The word is derived from Latin hekatombe, from Greek hekatombe, from hekaton (hundred) + bous (ox). Another word derived from bous (ox) is boustrophedon.

USAGE:
"The use of high-tech weapons will result in hecatombs, smart as the US bombs may be."
Lost Values; Kathimerini (Athens, Greece); Mar 17, 2003.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
He who sees a need and waits to be asked for help is as unkind as if he had refused it. -Dante Alighieri, poet (1265-1321)
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.” ~Anonymous
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