Fireworks: chrysanthemum shell (peony shell); shell, ground burst (gerb); maroon; hummer, whizzer; tourbillion; brocade, kamuro
Geography Words: graticule (shikari); cartogram, cartographer, choropleth; grabben, horst; orographic; moraine; swidden; prorupt
Words from Hawaiian: humuhumunukunukuapuaa; lanai; wahine; ukulele, luau; haole; muumuu; lei, haku
Volcano Words: aa, pahoehoe; lahar; solfatara (apoplexy); fumarole (magma); caldera; tephra
celebrate Independence Day. In 1776 John Adams, later to be the second
president of the
It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
In hono(u)r of the day, we'll look this week at some of the terms
for those "bonfires and illuminations", the fireworks that
traditionally close the Fourth of July celebration.
chrysanthemum shell a spherical burst, in which the stars leave a visible trail
(contrast peony shell, in which the stars do not leave a trail)
The fireworks you see outdoors are generally
shell the most spectacular of fireworks comprising a lifting charge (to propel the shell into the air) and a bursting charge to eject stars or subassemblies in the air after a predetermined delay
ground burst a low level burst of a shell; potentially very dangerous
What kind of firework would not be a shell? Here is an example.
gerb a firework that throws out a shower of sparks. [French gerb sheaf of corn (wheat?)]
Interesting etymology today.
maroon an exploding device that produces a loud bang
[from French marron chestnut (from the noise they make in a fire)]
A maroon makes a loud noise. Here is
hummer a device that produces a humming sound. It is usually a sealed tube and pierced near each end on opposite sides, so that the sound is made as the device spins rapidly in flight
whizzer an American name for a hummer
tourbillion 1. lit. or fig.: a whirling mass or system; a vortex; a whirl;
an eddy, a whirlpool. 2. a firework which spins
as it rises, forming a spiral or scroll of fire.
[from F. for 'whirlwind'; ultimately from Gr. 'noise, confusion'. accent on second syllable]
Stacy Schiff, A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America
Aerial maroons, bombshells filled with stars, rockets fizzing in tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands, Roman candles, electric spray, tourbillions and diamond dust lit the night sky
Amanda Mackenzie Stuart, Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: [etc.]
brocade a star that burns long, so that it leaves down-drooping
trails of light as it falls
kamuro like a brocade, but leaving longer trails; a sort of "weeping willow" effect
These two are from a 'fireworks' source; I am unable to confirm them. Other sources indicate that in Japanese, a kamuro is "a young female attendant in child-age of a high ranking prostitute," sort of a courtesan-in-training.
I generally don't limit my theme to a
technical field, with words of specialized meaning "of that field". But since I did so last week, for fireworks words, let's do it
again this week for words that have a geography meaning.
graticule a network of fine lines as a measuring scale or to locate objects, as on an oscilloscope screen, or to facilitate re-scaling to another size. (Also, the crosshairs in a rifle scope.) geography: the latitude/longitude grid (would not be used for others, such as a street grid)
I asked the head shikari, "Anybody sight these
scopes in? Graticules all
checked?" And got a blank look. "You
know," I said, "scopes have to be checked atmospheric pressure,
joggling around in jeeps,
that sort of thing. They
get out of alignment."
Robert Ruark, The Old Man's Boy Grows Older
Meridians and lines of latitude (parallels) form the global coordinate grid, or graticule.
New Comparative World Atlas (Hammond)
Bonus word: shikari a big-game hunter, or a guide for one
One more set of words about maps:
cartographer a mapmaker
cartogram a map showing statistical information graphically; e.g., countries are deliberately distorted so that the area of each is proportionate to its population. This cartogram of the
choropleth a map using shading or color to show a trait; e.g., colors indicate altitude; or darker shading indicates more-dense population. This choropleth shows climate zones.
Processes that build up the earth can cause
special features of the landscape. Illustrated here.
grabben a rift valley; a lowered elongated block of the earths crust lying between geologic faults [German 'trench']
horst a similar raised block [German 'heap']
a series of odd cracks, fissures and grabens
up to 7m deep. Most of those you see today were formed by earthquakes and
dramatic fissuring and subsidence
Joe Bindloss, Paul Handing, Lonely Planet Iceland
orographic relating to mountains; esp., associated with or induced by mountains: orographic rainfall
The north trades
[winds] are moist when they reach the islands, but through orographic
lifting, the air is relieved of most of its moisture as it passes over eastern
Richard Sullivan, Driving and Discovering
A glacier will grind down the rock beneath it
and move the debris that results. Sometimes that debris is bulldozed into a
moraine a mass of rocks and sediment carried down and deposited by a glacier
[French dialect morre snout]
The fires burned
through a wild area called Dogtown Common, an expanse
of swamp and glacial moraine that was once home to the local
crazy and forgotten.
Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm
We end our geography theme, today and
tomorrow, with terms about the human relationship with the globe.
swidden an area cleared for temporary cultivation by cutting and burning the vegetation
the road wound gently through a tunnel of dense foliage
The forest here was unmolested by loggers and swidden
agriculture. Insects shrieked in the bamboo groves, and clouds of yellow
butterflies corkscrewed in our wake.
Andrew Marshall, The Trouser People: A Story of
Political geographers classify countries'
shapes as compact, fragmented, elongated or prorupt.
In a compact country such as France, no part of its border lies extremely farther from the center than others. Thus it can easily be knit together with roads and rail (assuming no impeding mountains, etc.) and, relative to its size, is unlikely to have major internal differences. For these reasons it tends to be politically cohesive.
A fragmented country, like Indonesia, is broken into pieces, impeding internal travel. An elongated country (Chile), long and narrow, is hard to travel and may well have major internal differences of climate, culture, or ethic regions. All these factors make cohesion difficult, though varied climates may help create a more-diversified economy.
A prorupt country is mostly compact but has a significant appendage, which is very apt to become politically isolated. Examples are Namibia and Afghanistan (corridors), and Thailand and Myanmar (peninsulas).
Over the years we've looked at words from
French, from Latin, from German, Spanish, Russian and Italian. Let's take a
humuhumunukunukuapuaa a small trigger fish; the state fish of
A look at the etymology cuts this imposing dozen-syllable name down to size. Humu and nuku mean 'trigger fish' and 'snout'; repetition of them, as with our 'itsy-bitsy', means 'a little one'. Thus humu-humu-nuku-nuku is 'little trigger fish with a little snout'. Add a 'like' and puaa 'pig' and you have humu-humu-nuku-nuku-a-puaa, 'little trigger fish with a little pig-snout'.
lanai a veranda or roofed patio
He helped her
carry food and wine out to a table of wrought iron and glass on the lanai.
She lit candles, though the sunset still glowed beyond the trees. They drank
Herman Wouk, War and Remembrance
wahine 1. a Polynesian woman. 2. a woman surfer
like Sgt. Seager, who had been in more than 20 years,
lived off the post, "outside the fence," shacked up with a wahine.
Edward Gorman, An American Education
Two words today, well-known but with
ukulele a small four-stringed guitar popularized in
luau a Hawaiian feast [lit. "young taro tops," which were served at outdoor feasts]
disparaging: a white person
[technically, anyone not of the aboriginal Polynesian inhabitants of
A haole man sat in a rocking chair on the lanai
- the porch - his eyes closed, a blissful smile on his face.
Alan Brennert, Moloka'i
muumuu a long dress, loose and unbelted, hanging free from the shoulders
You're a happily
married man and your wife asks you, "Honey, does this dress make me look
for most of us, little white lies are the gifts we give and
receive to get through the day. They bear some risk, of course: If the dress
really does make your wife look fat, and you lie to her, well, then she'll be
out in public with a muumuu that is most definitely not
Truthfully, Lying has its Place,
lei a Polynesian garland of flowers, esp. one worn around
haku a crown made of fresh flowers
popular service offered by Hawaiian for arriving passengers is a traditional
Hawaiian Airlines press release, July 17, 2005
aa lava having a rough surface [Hawaiian, 'to burn']
pahoehoe lava with a smooth, glassy or rippled surface. [see also here]
[Hawaiian, reduplication of hoe, 'to paddle', probably from the swirls on its surface]
Not all lava is
the same: A pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy) lava flow travels quickly and often forms smooth,
ropy patterns, while an aa
(ah-ah) lava flow moves slowly and hardens to form sharp chunks.
Mackie Rhodes, Instructor, March, 2004
lahar an mud-flow
"avalanche" of volcanic ash and water, down the slopes of a volcano
[Javanese for lava']
Lahar and other
volcanic debris cascaded down the slopes of
Manila Standard Today, June 22, 2006
solfatara a volcanic area
that gives off sulfurous gases and steam
[from the Italian and Latin for 'sulfur']
Victoria Pybus, The Independent, July 11, 1998
apoplexy (adj. apoplectic) a fit of extreme anger; rage [also the name of a medical condition]
fumarole a hole in
a volcanic area from which hot smoke and gases escape (see link)
[Italian, from Late Latin for 'smoke hole', diminutive of 'smoke chamber']
Down on the crater
floor, [robot] Dante will play the role of field geologist, collecting
information that Kyle and his colleagues have long desired. Most important, the
robot will study the vapors rising from volcanic vents called fumaroles.
Escaping from inside the Earth, these gases contain clues about the source of
the magma feeding
Richard Monastersky, Science News, June 6, 1992
magma hot fluid or semi-fluid rock within the earths crust
caldera a crater formed by volcanic explosion or by collapse of a
This island is
still growing, as a river of molten lava pours often from the caldera
into the sea and has long been considered a spiritual place
Cultural inspiration on Hawaii's Big Island, Sunset, July, 2004
I spend two nights at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, a survivor of legions of tourists, all drawn by the pageant of wildlife atop an ancient caldera. Miles below, like a buffed ember, is a hot spot through the crust, and the caldera awaits its wakeup call from a 600,000-year nap.
Kerrick James, Travel
tephra solid matter
ejected into the air by an erupting volcano
[Greek tephr, ash]
The 1980 eruptions
Sid Perkins, Science News, Nov. 24, 2001