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Grammar Central > What's Your Word for the Day?

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message 1: by Ken (last edited Mar 01, 2008 08:05AM) (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
You stumble on a word you don't know. You look it up. You like it. You share it here!


You just like it word. It likes you. You exchange phone numbers (or e-mail) and BAM! it's a match made in Dictionary Heaven!

For instance, I remember in college when I learned the word "solipsistic" (solipsism was the noun). The word was used to describe the young Tolstoy, but I think it described the young me (and a lot of young you's, too).

solipsism (n) -- the theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing.

It comes from "sol" for sun -- you know, YOU'RE the sun and the universe revolves around YOU. (As if...)

message 2: by Prabha (new)

Prabha | 70 comments Thanks for sharing - nice word, describes lots of people i know! Tell me, how do you think 'solipsistic' differs from 'egocentric' ?

message 3: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Great question! Let me get back to you while I huddle with my friends (well...): Funk, Wagnall, Webster, et. al.

If anyone else has better (or faster) friends, word up and jump in!

message 4: by Ken (last edited Feb 02, 2008 12:45PM) (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Here's a link to everything you ever wanted to know (and a little of what you DIDN'T want to know) about solipsism:

Apparently, unlike EGOCENTRICISM, solipsism is an entire philosophy built around the SELF because, well, we're stuck with ourSELVES, so why not?

Also, I was wrong about the etymology. It's not SOL for "sun" but rather derived from the Latin root solus (or "alone," as in, I am frequently solus and I don't mind a bit....).

Sorry you asked, Prabha? :-)

message 5: by Prabha (new)

Prabha | 70 comments Great reference site - deep deep stuff! I was intrigued by the the following definition from that site, on 'infant solipsism':

"It is a common belief among Developmental psychologists that infants are solipsist. Eventually children make the inference that others have experience much like theirs."

Based on this, it appears there may be some parallel defininitions in psychological terms between 'solipsism' and 'egocentrism' - In child psychology, egocentrism is observed in infants and is defined as 'the tendency to perceive, understand and interpret the world in terms of the self.'

message 6: by Prabha (last edited Feb 03, 2008 07:24AM) (new)

Prabha | 70 comments Here's a 'word' that's completely mystified me -'contentpreneur'! It appeared today in the local newspapers, in a write-up inviting people interested in broadcasting, multimedia and communications to send in their entries for "the contentpreneur awards".

Is this even a word? What does it mean? According to the article, "winners have the opportunity to pitch for a goverment grant to produce their own full-length multimedia content production..".

Wiki says that "An entrepreneur is someone who organizes resources in new and more valuable ways." In the context of the article I read, a 'contentpreneur' is probably someone who organizes multimedia content in new and more valuable ways.

I understand that English Language is ever growing, but can we actually take the liberty to coin such words and use them freely in the media?

message 7: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Contentpreneur? Sounds like a portmanteau (a blending of two words to make a new word). Which reminds me, I should create a "Word Play" topic with stuff like portmanteaus and palindromes, etc.

message 8: by Symbol (last edited Feb 24, 2008 03:54PM) (new)

Symbol | 51 comments Okay, I just discovered this one recently. Technically it's a two-word term so, I hope I'm not breaking the rules too much.

Anthropodermic bibliopegy - the practice of binding books in human skin.

See Wikipedia's article on Anthropodermic Bibliopegy for more details on history and other assorted facts and fiction.

message 9: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod

Thanks (I think) for expanding my vocabulary. The "anthropo" means "man," the "dermic" means skin, the "biblio" means book, and the "pegy" means... means it's Margaret's skin?

I had a fair-skinned neighbor when I was a kid and she'd peel whole scrolls of skin off of herself after bad sunburns. See paragraph #1 of this post.

message 10: by Symbol (last edited Feb 27, 2008 05:14PM) (new)

Symbol | 51 comments My mom recently introduced me to the word zyzzyva. At first I was unimpressed. I mean, I like entomology as much as the next person, but I'm about to start memorizing the name of every obscure genus out there. However, there's another (unofficial) meaning stemming from it's use as a magazine title.
Click here for more on Zyzzyva.

message 11: by Ken (last edited Feb 28, 2008 01:34PM) (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Cool word. I like the letter Z very much (though not enough to name my son Zorro).

Zeitgeist, for instance. Zest. Zealot and zealotry. All Z-words with pizazz!

Then there's bagging Z's (paper or plastic?). Zzzzzzzzzz.

message 12: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz "Serendipity"--don't quite remember what it means but it sounds like a "happy" word :)

message 13: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (last edited Feb 29, 2008 11:39AM) (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6393 comments Mod
It sure is! I use it means that something good has chanced to is coincidence with very warm fuzzies! Finding this website was definitely serendipitous!!

message 14: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Hi East! How far east (of Oz) are you? Pitcairn Island? (And don't make fun of my geography... I'm American... 'nuff said).

As for happy words, I wish we had more of them. More's the (serendi)pity.

message 15: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6393 comments Mod
Oh GROAN Mr England!!!!!! (Teehee)

message 16: by Ken (last edited Mar 01, 2008 03:27AM) (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Cure for the groans -- Just ellipsis after me repeatedly: Shakespeare was the greatest punster of all time... Shakespeare was the greatest punster of all time... (You told me so yourself!!!)

message 17: by Ken (last edited Mar 01, 2008 06:35AM) (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Written with aplomb (as opposed to a peach), Richard.

INSOUCIANCE, to me, always looked like Step 3 in making chicken piccata.

As for Wm Buckley (RIP), there was always a bit of the vocabulary snob to him. You know the sort: drops in $10 words even when his pocket is full of dimes.

message 18: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Hi Newengland!
No not quite as far as poor ol' desolate Pitcairn ;) I'm in New Caledonia--about a 3 hour flight from Sydney :)I'm impressed that you got the "East of Oz" part--you're about the only one (lol).

I came across a new definition for the word "to retire"--ex: He'll have to be RETIRED quickly--aka MURDERED! Gotta love these euphemisms ;)

message 19: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Oh, yeah! I love euphemisms. They deserve their own thread even, so thanks for the idea!

And I'm surprised I'm the only one to pick up on the sobriquet (although I'm used to being the "only one" on a lot of things...).

message 20: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz It's important to be "unique" I think Newengland ;) Glad I could help for the "potential new thread" :)

message 21: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Crepuscular tries too hard. Why use it when you can utilize the more efficient dim?

The Valkyries remind me of Wagner and his famous Ring Cycle. "Ride of the Valkyries" brings to mind the Norse Valkyries swooping down from Valhalla to scoop up the noble Viking dead from the battlefields. The word also brings to mind the famous Bugs Bunny cartoon set to the same music (without apologies to Richard Wagner, whose politics stunk anyway).

message 22: by mara (last edited Mar 02, 2008 04:59AM) (new)

mara | 6 comments Oh I certainly disagree, Newengland.

In technical terms, its letters are cacophonous rather than euphonous. Crepuscular works better than dim when you want to convey that a place is uninviting. It brings to mind a jagged, oozing place. Dim is so widely applicable as to be bland. I am not a fan of small, most common word is always best.

message 23: by Ken (last edited Mar 02, 2008 08:58AM) (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Cacophony wins the day, then. Must be my journalism classes rearing their ugly heads again.

But fair enough, Mara. Crepuscular is a gross way to say dim, as in at twilight. It's just this: I've yet to see a twilight myself that looks crepuscular. And I'd never say to my wife while walking the dog one evening, "Hmn. Getting crepuscular out, don't you think?"

Obviously, though, words like that have a place in certain genres like fantasy or horror. And I buy your argument as long as you don't use TOO many overwrought words in close proximity (is that repetitive?) of each other.

Confucius says, "The minute your reader begins to notice your vocabulary at the expense of your narrative, you're in trouble.

P.S. Great to see your first post, Mara! Keep 'em coming. "Variety" is a euphonious word in this neck of the woods...

message 24: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15772 comments Mod
Nasty word, crepuscular. Now don't go catching small pox, folks. You'll get all crepuscular.

The other day I ran into chatoyant for the first time.

French, from present participle of chatoyer to shine like a cat's eyes
having a changeable luster or color with an undulating narrow band of white light

message 25: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Cool word. I like how the French word for cat, chat, is built right in. Of course, in English, to have a little chat is another thing entirely. It's only annoying when a male chat decides to have a chat outside your window some moonlit night...

message 26: by mara (last edited Mar 02, 2008 02:03PM) (new)

mara | 6 comments Now words that I am not sure how to pronounce annoy me and I get annoyed at people who smugly pronounce them as they should be. I know it's shat-oy-AYHN but think people should be comfortable saying chit-OY-ent but then it sounds like a nonsense word.

>I've yet to see a twilight myself that looks crepuscular.

Apparently you've never lived in the deep south.

message 27: by Ken (last edited Mar 02, 2008 04:55PM) (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Pronunciation is a weakness of mine. I was a shy kid and read a TON (caps for weightiness), but didn't speak as much. Those are the people who get tripped up by pronunciation a lot. They see many words but don't hear them so much.

But I like how many words have more than one pronunciation. It's almost as good as two accepted spellings in the dictionary (preferred always come first, of course).

And you are right on the Deep South point, Mara. Heck, you'd be right on the Shallow South point, too. I've driven through the South, but haven't spent a lot of time there (unless you count Myrtle Beach as "the South," and you probably do not).

More damning, if you read my profile, you realize that (gasp) I'm allergic to Faulkner. (And I'll bet dollars to Southern belles that ole Willie used crepuscular in his books... only I wouldn't know, having never made it out of one of his books alive.)

message 28: by Eastofoz (last edited Mar 02, 2008 09:15PM) (new)

Eastofoz Does anybody know the answer to this: Do you say

"I couldn't care less!" or
"I could care less!"

when you're fed up with something?

I've heard both and everyone I ask seems to say one or the other and that their version is right. Does anyone know "the real" expression?

Does SO (as an abbreviation) mean Significant Other when you're referring to someone who lives with you? I hate these new abbreviations that pop up 24/7 without any explanation!

message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

i think it's "I couldn't care less"
meaning i'm maxed out on not caring
there is no possible way I could care less.

but I could be wrong

yah i would say SO means sig other
I just used it recently because "boyfriend" sounds ridiculous for someone who is over 35 regardless of living or not living together

message 30: by Ken (last edited Mar 03, 2008 03:10AM) (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
I second Maureen. If you COULD care less, you would. But to show your utter lack of caring, you say, "I couldn't care less" because you've already reached the absolute bottom in the ocean of Not Caring. People mess that up all the time, but you don't come off like I jerk if you turn it into a joke:

Person: "I could care less."
You: "Go right ahead, then."

OK. Maybe you come off as a jerk no matter HOW you correct people, but I actually like to be corrected sometimes, because that's how I learn (and I still have a lifetime of learning to do -- without a lifetime left to do it in).

message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

i've always wondered what docent meant and never bothered to check! thanks

my word today is foment
it just sounds neat

i've left all my books in storage and don't know a good online dictionary, any suggestions?

also a thesaurus?

message 32: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz Thanks for the "couldn't care less" explanation newengland. Makes sense :)

message 33: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15772 comments Mod
A nice feature of the MS Encarta dictionary is that it pronounces the word aloud for you.

message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

ooohh-thanks ruth and richard i'll add them to my favorites

i like the word hegemony as well but had never heard of it until Noam Chomsky's book
I don't know why, guess i wasn't hangin in the world dominion circles ;)
but it doesn't exactly roll off my tongue

newengland had mentioned on one of these posts that people could be well read but if they haven't heard the words used (or looked up the pronunciation) they may not know how to say them

i find this very true for myself
there are also just those words that i know the pronunciation but if the first bit trips out of my mouth wrong i can't set it right

that is soooo embarrassing

message 35: by mara (new)

mara | 6 comments Yea, I wouldn't let hegemony roll off your tongue, Maureen. It's one of those words like the expression "dominant paradigm" that sounds msugly academic and is outside the veracular of everyday language even among he well-spoken

message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

haha agreed
i had a statistics prof who hated the word paradigm to be used except for mathematics

he felt it perverted its true meaning
i kinda liked him for that

message 37: by Ken (last edited Mar 04, 2008 05:03PM) (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Foment is a good one because it SOUNDS like "foam" and foam is what you get when you stir the waters. Pretty close to the definition, isn't it? Churning the waters, I mean. OK, so I'm being figurative (because I'm not the best realist).

Hegemony. Hmn. That word I heard a lot in college, where I minored in history. There was a whole lot of hegemony going around historically (hysterically, in some cases). Sounds like hedgehog. And that's one of my favorite quotes: "The fox knows many things; the hedgehog knows one big thing." I read an Isaiah Berlin essay on Leo Tolstoy once and he used that quote to divide people into "foxes" and "hedgehogs" (yes, this was all pre-Sonic!). Tolstoy was a hedgehog, seems. I fear I am, too (curses).

Paradigm is part of that miasma of confusing words: paradigm, paradox, paragon, paregoric, etc. OK. Kidding on the paregoric maybe.

Why concede paradigm to the mathematicians, though? (I hate to concede them anything, after the torture they put me through for 12 long years....)

message 38: by Eastofoz (new)

Eastofoz I like the word "denouement"--sounds so tragic!

message 39: by Sheri (new)

Sheri I was reading a picture book to my 4 year old daughter tonight. It is the Bake Shop Ghost and I loved how a children's book contained the word "flummoxed".

It was in the Advanced Picture book section of the library. I don't know what criteria must be met for a book to be in that section versus the regular picture book section, but it was nice to see some vocabularly expanding words.

message 40: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Hi, Sheri! Thanks to you and your daughter for sending flummox our way. Again, a word that SOUNDS like its meaning somehow. Maybe it's the letter "x" which so nicely crosses out any clear and coherent thoughts (my problem on a daily basis).

Chatspeak 4ever, eh, R.? I'm too old (don't tell Debbie) to ever have been involved in any "chat" technologies. Unless you count this. Do you count this?

OK, my word for the day is weir. Yes, I like short, pithy words. I especially like Anglo-Saxon ones (with no offense to my Romantic language friends, of which I count one). Anyone used a weir lately?

message 41: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15772 comments Mod
I'm aware of weir, but I've never wunce used it.

As for leet & chatspeak. Not on the keyboard 4 me. But when I was in college in the '50s, I invented my own shorthand for taking notes. It shared many characteristics with text messaging.

message 42: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
I guess I don't "chatspeak," either. But then, I do not own a cellphone, so have never "texted" someone.

Also, I seldom use acronyms like LOL or LMAO or ROTFL or whatever. I sometimes will do a smiley and/or a winking face, though I try to avoid that, too. I only use them because the Internet (and e-mail) are notoriously suspect when it comes to conveying tone. So sometimes the smile accents that you're saying it in a lighthearted way. Otherwise, people take offense (and so EASILY!).

What, Ruth? No weir? Not wunce? How about welt? Same characteristics (Middle English, short, to the point).

message 43: by Trina (new)

Trina (trieb) | 4 comments My latest pet peeve is students who use netspeak -- meant for talking to each other over the computer or phone -- in actual speech in school. (I won't go into the flaming pen of doom that comes out when they use it in their writing.)

For example, one of the has been known to say, "LOL!" during class, even while everyone else is chuckling. They also use, "OMG!" That being said, a couple of kids pointed out that it's pointless to do that and that they should turn off the computer once in a while and get a life.

However, cat (and other animal) macros are one of my guiltiest pleasures. I am not the walrus (because the walrus is Paul), but I definitely love it when he's looking for his "bukkit."

message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

weir is lovely
there is one of ancient origin (probably micmac or maliseet) in the bay of fundy near lubec maine
they've also found viking artifacts (about 10 years ago)

message 45: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 15772 comments Mod
THE KHIMAIRA (or Chimera) was a monstrous beast which ravaged the countryside of Lykia in Anatolia. It was a composite creature, with the body and maned head of a lion, a goat's head rising from its back, and a serpentine tail.

The hero Bellerophon was commanded to slay it by King Iobates. He rode into battle against the beast on the back of the winged horse Pegasos and, driving a lead-tipped lance down the Khimaira's flaming throat, suffocated it.

message 46: by Debbie, sardonic princess of cheerfulness (last edited Mar 06, 2008 01:15AM) (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) | 6393 comments Mod
You absolutely count this, you old codger you!!!!
And as for students who use chatspeak....I know a student aged 7 who has been named in chatspeak by his parents.....Ptrjon. Poor kid.

message 47: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Flaming pen of doom? As long as it's not RED. English teachers should avoid red so as to destroy that stereotype. I use green. A "go" color. As in, "Try to go figure what the heck this kid's writing."

Anyway, word for the day. Chimera's cool. I like words from mythology, in fact. One of my favorites is protean, an adjective derived from Proteus, an early sea god who was able to take any shape he wished. I tend to use it when referring to anything that changes frequently, like, say, politicians' views (which change based on what state they're in, for one).

message 48: by Trina (new)

Trina (trieb) | 4 comments Heh. I almost never use red...I alternate between pink, turquoise, purple, and green. I do use red once in a while, when I can't find my other pens, but red just isn't as pretty.

One of my old favorite words, from 12th grade vocabulary was mistral. I always thought it should be a warm and gentle breeze that lapped at your neck when you're relaxing on the beach. It isn't. It's a cold, dry, northerly wind common in southern France.

message 49: by Ken (new)

Ken | 18340 comments Mod
Oh, those long-winded Frenchies. And who can forget the Dreyfus Affair? Ended in a mistral, didn't it?

(Sorry. Maybe the word of the day should be shameless, as in certain puns.)

message 50: by Ruth (last edited Mar 06, 2008 08:16PM) (new)

Ruth | 15772 comments Mod
I taught Art History at the College level, but I wielded a heavy blue pen on the English on those written reports.

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