Thursday, August 28, 2014

Random Sequence: chanticleer

"We will endeavor to describe a village wedding in Sweden. It shall be summertime, that there may be flowers; and in a southern province, that the bride may be fair. The early song of the lark and chanticleer are mingling in the clear morning air, and the sun, the heavenly bridegroom with yellow hair, arises in the south."
--"Village Wedding in Sweden", anonymous, in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, May 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

chanticleer [SHON-toh-clear] = a rooster, though when capitalized, it can also refer to a male vocal ensemble. The word apparently comes from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, where the rooster Chanticleer is described thus:

"For crowing there was not his equal in all the land. His voice was merrier than the merry organ that plays in church, and his crowing from his resting place was more trustworthy than a clock. His comb was redder than fine coral and turreted like a castle wall, his bill was black and shone like a jet, and his legs and toes were like azure. His nails were whiter than the lily and his feathers were like burnished gold."

What a stud!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Link Mania: A Kiss Is Just an Osculation

The Magical Origins of Harry Potter Words
Like to go around humming to yourself? We'll call you Dumbledore.


The Sexy Thesaurus: A List of Words to Use in Your Romance Novel
Some of these euphemisms are pretty funny. "Pool of moisture"? The only word I didn't know was "osculation". Hard to imagine that word in a romance novel, unless it's about two pedants... osculating.


List of cool words you might love
Including "snollygoster" (TWITO, page 138) and one of my favorites: "zarf" (TWITO, page 168).

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Word of the Day: punctiform

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's...

punctiform [PUNK-tuh-form] adjective (TWITO, page 118)

Shaped or formed like a point or dot

"Each of his ideas would vanish in the act of awakening its successor; his mind (if such it could be called)would be shut up to the punctiform instant...."
--William James, M.D., "The Association of Ideas", in Popular Science (1880)


Monday, August 25, 2014

Much Ado about NOTHING

Stoop sitting is my latest nightly ritual. There's something about sitting on your front steps in the dark in a reasonably safe urban neighborhood that is both relaxing and intriguing. People walk past like ghosts, unaware that someone is observing them from the shadows, and I catch bits of mumbling into cell phones: "Almost home". Little domestic scenes play out in lighted windows across the street: someone is pacing back and forth, perhaps trying to resolve their mental dilemma; another figure appears to be seated as a desk, tapping a keyboard. Planes wink in the sky and dogs bark in the distance. Time stands still.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Random Sequence: A Piscatory Story

"Georgie was really pale when Norris, with the help of his clasp-knife, had freed the creature from the coil of twine, and rolling him up, unceremoniously thrust him into the covered basket provided for their booty. It was plain that she was too timid or too sensitive to cultivate the piscatory art with any hope of success."
--from "Taking Boarders for Company" by Marion Harland, in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, October 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

piscatory = of or relating to fish or fishing
I use this old book to fish for unusual words, and that's not a bad catch.

fish face

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Link Mania: What a Bangarang!

Big, Beautiful Words You Need To Start Using Immediately
But I already do...


11 Common Words That Will Boost Your Scrabble Score
And the one with the highest score? "Maximize"!


Words in the news: bangarang
"Bangarang" is a great word, but so is "hooroosh" (TWITO, page 68), which has the same meaning: an uproar, a great fuss.

"What a hooroosh is aloft there! I would e'en take it for sublime, did I not know that the colic is a noisy malady."
--Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Word of the Day: kipple

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's...

kipple [KIP-uhl] noun

Useless trash, junk, or rubbish, coined by science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick in his book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

"'I have to clean up this room,' said Hiram. 'Irrelevant kipple seems to multiply around me like rabbits in heat.'"
--TWITO, page 80!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Random Sequence: Propitious Weasels

"At nine o'clock, therefore, on the evening of my return, I set out in search of my weasels. The weather was magnificent and the moon at the full. No night could have been more propitious, nevertheless my vigils were vain, for no sign of a weasel appeared, and after waiting till midnight I returned home."
--From "A Ghost Story", translated from the French by Mrs. Annie T. Wood, in Godey's Lady Book and Magazine, April 1864

(I found a bound copy of several issues of Godey's in my basement and have been flipping through the dusty pages.)

"propitious" (pro-PEH-shus) = having a good chance of success; favorable

I does seem odd to think of a nocturnal weasel sighting as propitious.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Link Mania: Not-So-Naughty Words

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Quote of the Day: Julian Barnes

"Books say: She did this because. Life says: She did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren’t. I'm not surprised some people prefer books."
--Julian Barnes

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Word of the Day: nephelococcygia

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's...

nephelococcygia [NEF-el-o-kok-SIJ-ee-uh] noun

Cloud gazing; the act of looking for and finding shapes in clouds; also, when capitalized,the name of "Cloud Cuckoo-Land" in Aristophane's The Birds

"Terrence spent Saturday prostrate in the yard and in nephelococcygia, finding inspiration in the thunderheads."


TWITO, page 95!