October 2006 Archives
Hiding and Secrecy: camarilla, doggo, in camera, latitation (sub rosa), priest's hole, star chamber
Words of War and Revolt: palace revolution, dragoon (importunate), casus belli, sortie, jihad, polemology, antebellum
More Words of War: banzai attack; banzai charge, brevet, Maginot line, Kulturkampf, Kriegspiel, cantonment, saber rattling
Toponyms: zabernism, Trojan horse, troy,
Hiding and Secrecy
week we will present furtive words: words of hiding and secrecy.
camarilla a group of confidential, often scheming advisers; a cabal
'a camarilla of all-powerful
Ustashi officers and scheming politicians', who had taken control of what
remained of the disintegrating state of Croatia,
Stephen Dorril, MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service
tell a camarilla of anti-Diem generals that, if they overthrew Diem, the United States would recognize their new regime.
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Robert Kennedy and His Times
doggo 'lie doggo' Brit. informal, dated: remain motionless and quiet to escape detection
I thought, my God, he is trying to
hypnotize me; and then, I must play by the rules, but I'll lie doggo
and pretend I am hypnotized.
John Fowles, The Magus
in camera 1. in secret; privately 2. law: in private with a judge rather than in open court
Queensland Health employees had only been
willing to give their evidence in camera for fear of retribution.
a rare one.
latitation lying in concealment; hiding; lurking
latibulum a concealed hiding place; a burrow; a lair; a hole
The warden took a key ring from his pocket.
"We have the Major in the latibulum. It's where we
keep the most gruesome cases, out of public viewing
Peter Quinn, Banished Children of Eve
sub rosa happening or done in secret
I run my boat into
Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
Foreign countries in the region who were supplying sub-rosa assistance to the U.S. were about to make decisions that would put them at even greater risk
Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack
priest's hole a secret chamber or hiding-place for a (Roman Catholic) priest (in times of the penal laws)
Miss Marple didn't see how architecture
could come into it, though it might, she supposed. A priest's hole, perhaps?
One of the houses they were going to visit might have a priest's hole
which would contain a skeleton.
Agatha Christie, Nemesis
The priest's hole and the concealed staircase are at your service.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Murder Must Advertise
star chamber characterized by secrecy and often being irresponsibly arbitrary and oppressive
The Motion Picture Association of America's
film rating system
is a joke. It will slap a restrictive rating on the mere
flash of a woman's breast and not even blink at the most gruesome violence
imaginable. It's much easier on large-budget studio productions than low-budget
independent films. And it operates as a star chamber,
dispensing its judgments in total secrecy.
Words of War and Revolt
what an endless subject!
palace revolution overthrow of a ruler by those who are already in the ruling group
Georges Lefebvre and Elizabeth M. Evanson, The French Revolution
When he [Karl Menninger] had turned 71 and still was not ready to relinquish command, impatient subordinates staged a palace revolution and kicked him upstairs to be chairman of the board.
Time Magazine, Aug. 6, 1973
A palace revolution in athletics was triggered yesterday with a demand for the resignation of the world governing body's president. Luciano Barra, one of the sport's most respected officials, sent a seven-page letter to the International Association of Athletics Federations' president, and copied it to council members.
The Herald (
dragoon 1. to subjugate or persecute by imposition of troops 2.
to compel by violent measures or threats; coerce
[from Fr. dragon carbine, musket, because the guns "breathed fire" like a dragon]
against his will by the importunate Pope, painted the Sistine
, worked alone on a scaffold for four years, allowing no one but the
Pope to inspect his progress.
Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly: From
importunate persistent or pressing in entreaty (with the overtone of being annoyingly so)
casus belli an act or situation provoking or justifying war
There is good reason for the preoccupation
with finding an Iraqi connection [with Al Qaeda]. As the administration edges
closer and closer to military engagement, it badly needs a casus belli
(roughly translated, smoking gun) as a justification for an act of war.
Christian Science Monitor,
sortie an attack by troops breaking out of a defensive position; also,
a flight by a military aircraft
But the meaning has expanded to a non-military sense, not thoroughly noted in the dictionaries.
sortie an incursion into new territory
Citrφen is considering a sortie
jihad 1. a holy war waged on behalf of Islam 2. a
crusade for a principle or belief
The second, figurative use is rare, but more interesting. I would say it typically has the sense of a vendetta.
If there are real crooks in
National Post (
polemology the study of war, esp. as an academic
So says OED, but notice the second quote. I suppose it all depends on your point of view.
To speak about the nature and causes of
must appear presumptuous at a moment when
scientists biologists, physiologists, ethologists [sic], and zoologists
have joined in an all out effort to solve the riddle of "aggressiveness"
in human behavior, and even a brand-new science, called "polemology,"
Hannah Arendt, On Violence (1970)
Francis A. Beer advocates the adoption of a more scientific perspective in "polemology" or "peace science."
Jongsuk Chay, Culture and International Relations
antebellum of the period preceding a particular war
(but almost always used with reference to the U.S. Civil War; that is, pre-1861)
There are unwritten rules of etiquette for a
Vice President's wife that correspond roughly to the antebellum
definition of a lady: her name should appear in the papers only on the occasion
of her marriage or death.
More Words of War
continue with a second weekly theme of words of war and battle.
banzai attack; banzai charge an all-out usually desperate attack
[after such attacks by WWII Japanese troops]
Here are examples both literal and figurative.
we turned back a banzai attack
they came out of their holes with their swords drawn, high-hollering
'Banzai!' The Japanese cut the guy ropes and they were running them through the
canvas with their swords. When they came through our area, we were still
sleeping in the dirt. We cut them down.
the man who fishes for black marlin probably wears a size 44 coat and a size 4 hat. it takes brawn to catch oneand a kind of lunacy to try. As a last resort, if the marlin is angry enough, he will even launch a banzai attack; virtually every boat in the Club de Pesca's fleet carries chunks of marlin bill embedded in its hull.
Time Magazine, July 10, 1964
An influential Republican congressman California wants to add a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border build twin metal fences along the entire 2,000-mile border to stop the flow of illegal immigration. Cost estimates start at $4 billion. The wall would stop the "banzai attack," Hunter said , when large numbers of people cross at the same time.
brevet a temporary promotion without pay increase
The dictionaries define this as such a military promotion, but the term is much more interesting in its occasional non-military uses. For example:
In his own absence from
A season that began with considerable promise is rapidly spiraling down the drain at
Maginot line a expensive defense that seems impregnable, creates a
false sense of security, but proves utterly ineffective (typically because it
is static and thus cannot respond to other means of attack)
[Wordcrafter's definition. From a line of pre-WWII French fortifications named for minister Andrι Maginot (1877-1932). The line was strong but the Germans simply went around it.]
The European trade commissioner
withering attack on protectionist forces inside the EU yesterday saying a "Maginot
line" mentality should not be allowed to distract the union from
the reforms needed to compete with the rising powers of
If a terrorist tried to sneak a "dirty" bomb into the
Christian Science Monitor,
Kulturkampf conflict between cultures, or between secular and religious authorities
the kulturkampf between
Islam and the rest of the modern world.
the Kulturkampf, or cultural struggle, between
International Herald Tribune,
Another war-word from German:
Kriegspiel 'war game', played by moving on a board pieces, flags, etc., representing armed forces
Indeed, had [the siege of]
Bernard B. Fall, Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of
cantonment temporary living
quarters specially built for soldiers
[Most press usages are from the press of
were expected to gather at a camp near
The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the
saber rattling a show or threat of military power, esp.
as used by a nation to impose its policies on other countries
[often used with the implication that the threat is mere bluff and bluster]
The Soviets exploded the biggest nuclear
weapon ever tested, a 50 megaton hydrogen bomb, over an Arctic peninsula in
1961. Most historians view is that the impractically large Tsar Bomba was pure
Cold War saber-rattling, never intended for use in warfare
week we'll present toponyms: words from place names. We start with one
that would also fit last week's 'military' theme.
zabernism the misuse of military power or authority; bullying, aggression
From the town of
is busy in Cologne imprisoning
every German who does not salute a British officer; whilst the government at
home, asked whether it approves, replies that it does not propose even to
discontinue this Zabernism when the Peace is concluded, but in
effect looks forward to making Germans salute British officers until the end of
George Bernard Shaw, Heartbreak House
would not expect these two toponyms, Trojan horse and troy ounce,
refer to two different cities.
Trojan horse someone or something intended to defeat or subvert from within usually by deceptive means [also used in computerese]
[from the conquest of the city of
Proposition 90, touted by its backers as a
protection against unreasonable government taking of private property
far beyond sensible
by making it extremely difficult for government to
protect the environment or preserve our quality of life.
Proposition 90 is a Trojan
troy a system of
weights, used mainly for precious metals and gems, with a pound of 12 ounce
[such a system was used at the fair of
Gold closed in
[from Sodom and Gomorrah, the two wicked cities of the plain in Gen. xviii-xix. The same place is the source of the familiar word sodomy.]
All of this controverts the notion that
blue-state California is some Sodom on the Pacific.
Los Angeles Times,
toponyms are names of cloth or clothing. We have previously mentioned several
examples: taffeta, tuxedo, denim
and jeans. Here are two more.
jodhpurs (plural noun; picture here) trousers for horse riding, close-fitting below the knee and with reinforced patches inside the leg.
[after the Indian city (state?) of Jodhpur]
Stimson and General Patton were present, the
tall, theatrical Patton resplendent in buckled riding boots, jodhpurs,
and a lacquered four-star helmet.
David McCullough, Truman
I used a western saddle and rode in blue jeans and cowboy boots, but the president [Reagan] preferred an English saddle, jodhpurs, and polished riding boots.
James Baker III, Work Hard, Study...and Keep Out of Politics!
panama hat (picture here) a mans wide-brimmed hat of straw-like material
[after the country of Panama. This is a misnomer, for it was originally made in Ecuador, but it was distributed north from Panama City.]
Tan shoes with pink shoelaces
A polka-dot vest, and man, oh man! He wears
Tan shoes with pink shoelaces,
And a big panama with a purple hat band!
Dodie Stevens, 1959
Iraq in the news, let's take a toponym from that country.
baldachin a ceremonial canopy over an altar, throne, or doorway.
[originally denoting a rich brocade from Baghdad: from Italian Baldacco Baghdad.]
Beyond it was the glittering gold and white
altar at which only a pope may say mass, and above the altar Bernini's vast baldachin,
100ft high, its helical columns spiralling up towards Michelangelo's giant
cupola and the presumed location of heaven beyond.
The Guardian, Apr. 5, 2005, at the funeral of Pope John Paul II