August 2006 Archives
Insulting Words: troglodyte, excerebrose, recreant, poltroon (omadhaun), subdolous, benighted, slubberdegullion
Sensory Words: hircine (hirsute), treacly, empyreumatic, alliaceous, toothsome, sialagogue, formication
Words from Wordcraft's "Bluffing Game": slub, rhytiscopia, ningimmer, impignorate
Words of Art: putto, abbozzo, maulstick; mahlstick, chiaroscuro, giclιe, lithograph, serigraphy, stipple, contrapposto
week we'll present some high-class insults with which to baffle your foes.
troglodyte 1. a cave-dweller 2. one who is reclusive, reactionary, out of date, or brutish
[from the Greek name of an Ethiopian people, influenced by trogle hole]
there were several cars behind him,
including one of those pickups that sit about six feet off the ground and are
invariably driven by some tailgating troglodyte
T.C. Boyle, The Tortilla Curtain
excerebrose brainless; having no brain
hackers penetrated a database
access to the personal files of as many as 32,000 people.
In a contrite but
somewhat excerebrose statement,
Chris Noon, Lexis Nexis Exec Admits Hackers Took Control Of Database, Forbes, March10, 2005
A rather archaic word:
recreant 1. abjectly cowardly 2. disloyal (noun: a recreant person)
'Come hither!' he cried to his servants.
'Come, if you are not all recreant!'
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
I also remember a short story about the recreant son of an old family who recovered his courage and vindicated his tarnished honor
Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again
Another archaic word:
poltroon an utter coward
[Italian, perhaps from poltro lazy]
Go back to your seat, you omadhaun, you poltroon, you thing from the far dark corner of a bog.
Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes: A Memoir
omadhaun a fool, an idiot, a mentally backward person [Irish]
subdolous sly; crafty; cunning
Today's quote is enjoyable, but query whether it uses the word correctly.
At his press conference recently the
President referred to columnists as "unnecessary excrescence." Mr.
Roosevelt was just being subdolous.
benighted ignorant or unenlightened
a novel constitutional doctrine known as
the "right to marital privacy."
"Privacy" functioned as a
euphemism for immunity from those public-morals laws deemed by the justices to
reflect benighted moral views.
Robert P. George and David L. Tubbs, National Review,
There was a young man so benighted,
He didn't know when he was slighted.
He went to a party
And ate just as hearty
As if he'd been really invited.
here's a rare insult which feels wonderful in the mouth.
slubberdegullion a slobbering or dirty fellow; a worthless sloven
week we look at words of the senses, beginning with an insulting one.
hircine smelling like a goat
Hircine can also mean just "like a goat", but it pertains primarily to smell. A word for "like a goat", without that smell connotation, is caprine.
It is now four weeks since a razor came in
contact with my chin. All my companions are equally hircine;
or, if you please, hirsute.
John Audubon, naturalist, quoted in Duff Hart-Davis, Audubon's Elephant
hirsute covered with abundant hair
treacly cloyingly sweet
[Jean] Kerr was an essayist and hugely
successful Broadway playwright
however, she may be best known as the Doris
Day character in the treacly 1960 film version of Please Don't
Eat the Daisies, which
morphs her into a home remodeling-obsessed, suburban
empyreumatic smelling like burnt flesh
alliaceous smelling (or tasting) like garlic or onions
there's a $6 billion industry centering
around about 1,000 different fragrances, according to statistics
avoiding alliaceous, empyreumatic and particularly
hircine scents when shopping for that special someone.
toothsome 1. temptingly tasty to the mouth 2. attractive, alluring (esp., sexually appealing to the eye)
[T]he lesbian trio Fruit from
sialagogue something that promotes flow of saliva
In other words, it makes the mouth water. Obviously suitable for figurative use.
The word combines a Greek root (for 'saliva') with a Latin one.
carefully that the fourth letter of today's word is an m, not an n.
formication the feeling of ants or other insects crawling over one's skin
[Latin formicare 'crawl like an ant']
I cannot give you a suitable quotation, but the following Ogden Nash poem may reinforce the connection between formi- and ants.
The ant has made himself illustrious
Through constant industry industrious.
Would you be calm and placid
If you were full of formic acid?
Words from Wordcraft's "Bluffing Game"
This set of words comes from the "Bluffing Game" on Wordcraft's discussion board. Since the object was to guess the meaning, these words were obviously provided without illustrative quotes.
slub to extend fibers and twist after carding (noun: a slight irregularity in yarn, from knotting or twisting, or including uneven lengths of fiber in spinning)
P.S. One of phony definitions in the game was "petrified bodily excretions other than dung". Pieces of petrified dung are coprolites, which (says one source) "form an important class of objects studied in the field of paleontology ".
rhytiscopia a neurotic preoccupation with facial wrinkles
ningimmer a physician or surgeon, particularly those who cure the venereal disease
impignorate to mortgage
Words of Art
anyone? This week we present words from the world of art.
putto (plural putti) a representation of a naked child, especially a cherub or a cupid
Live models were drawn from every quarter of
Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo
abbozzo a rough, preliminary sketch (not necessarily pictorial; could
be a sketch of an opera)
An interesting thought in today's quotation.
there were those in the sixteenth century
who saw a relationship between unfinished works and archaic works. The crude
and rough images of the earliest times, it was believed, were slowly brought to
refinement by history, just as the artist brings a sketch (abbozzo)
to perfection in the finished work.
Alexander Nagel, Michelangelo and the Reform of Art
Lest you think all art words are Italian, here's one from the Dutch for "paint stick".
maulstick; mahlstick a light stick on which a painter supports
and steadies his brush hand, for detail work, without resting the hand on wet
See here. One end of the stick is placed on a dried part of the painting. It is typically leather-covered so as not to scratch the paint.
What is your Little Billee, with his
stinking oil-bladders, sitting mum in his corner, his mahlstick
and his palette in one hand
George Du Maurier, Trilby (translation)
chiaroscuro the interplay of light and shade in drawing and
painting; a work stressing that interplay
[Italian chiaro clear, bright + oscuro dark, obscure]
Our second quote is a stunning example of using the term figuratively, for another complex combinations of contrasting elements.
the power failed, hurricane lamps
were produced, and the classroom became a chiaroscuro study of
long shadows and illuminated faces.
George Packer, The Assassins' Gate:
Matthews maintained that he had been incarcerated because of a government conspiracy to silence him. there was truth in his accusation. Negotiating his way through Matthews' swirling chiaroscuro of sanity and madness, [biographer] Jay reveals that while the Air Loom was an extravagant delusion, Matthews actually had been working on a secret British government mission to secure peace with
a word that's too new to be in most dictionaries but has over 5 million Google
giclιe a high-quality copy of a painting, etc., made by digital scanning and ink-jet printing onto canvas or archival paper [French gicler to spray or squirt]
Images are reproduced using the Giclιe
(pronounced jhee-clay) method, which is known for its high standard of colour
a process called giclιe, in which high-resolution digital scans are printed with archival quality inks for better color accuracy.
giclιe process yields high color accuracy and is often less costly than
lithography, serigraphy or serilith.
lithography printing with a plate whose areas are chemically treated to retain or repel ink
serigraphy silk-screening: ink forced through silk mesh, parts of which have been impermeably coated
stipple to paint, etc. in dots or short strokes (or otherwise produce that flecked or speckled effect: a field stippled with purple weeds Flannery O'Connor) [noun: the technique, or the effect produced]+
across the room, lit only by a stipple of moonlight through lace
Alan Brennert, Moloka'I
contrapposto the position with hips and legs turned somewhat in a different direction from the shoulders and head; typically most of the weight is on one foot
the loose-hipped contrapposto
favored by the models who appear in Obsession ads.
Daniel Mendelsohn, The Elusive Embrace
He was standing casually at the door, contrapposto, looking directly at the spy-hole, as if he knew she was there looking out at him.
Denise Mina, Garnethill: A Novel of Crime