Sunday, January 24, 2010

Yet Another Five Wonderful Words

Enjoy these!!

Growlery growl'er-ee, n (English; cf. Dutch grollen, to grumble)

A retreat for times of ill humour. This term has largely become obsolete, which is strange, given that so many people seem to need a place to go when they are in a bad mood - a place to be alone and think. Of course, being alone is one thing that almost anyone can manage. Thinking is quite another. It's similar in meaning to the Latin-derived sanctum sanctorum, with the added connotation that the individual in question is going to the place to be alone while upset.

Jeremiad jer-i-my'ad, n (From Jeremiah, author of the Book of Lamentations)

A lamentation or prolonged complaint; an angry or cautionary harangue. Poor Jeremiah! He writes one complaining letter to God, whines about the state of the world, gets it published in the most popular book of all time, and his name is forever attached to the concept of complaining and lamenting one's fate. I think there's a moral message in there somewhere, but I haven't figured out yet what it is.

Kenspeckle ken'spek-l, adj (Scottish English, from Old Norse kennispeki power of recognition)

Easily recognizable or distinguishable; conspicuous. This word sounds very interesting, and is all the more remarkable because it is etymologically unrelated to the similar-sounding and synonymous conspicuous (Latin con, an intensive, and specere, to look). Kenspeckle is mostly used in Scotland and northern England these days; perhaps it should enjoy greater currency.

Spatchcock spach'kok, v or n (English, probably from dispatch and cock)

To insert into a text too hurriedly or inappropriately; a fowl stuffed and cooked immediately after killing. This is probably my favourite word of all time. Though there's little use for it any more as a noun, the idea of hurriedly killing, stuffing and cooking a bird has enormous metaphorical value. As a verb, spatchcock is a term that should be picked up and used by every editor who has ever had to read a manuscript that has been prepared in such a manner.

Boustrophedon boo-strof-ee'don, adj and adv (Greek, from bous ox and strophe a turning)

Of writing, alternating left to right then right to left. Not a word with a great deal of utility, unless you study ancient inscriptions, but very descriptive. I like the metaphor of an ox ploughing the field back and forth from one direction to the other.

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