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This week we return to humanity, and present words of emotion.

A nice image, behind our first word, is revealed by its etymology.

perfervid – extremely or extravagantly eager; impassioned or zealous, excessively fervent
Latin per- utterly + fervidus glowing hot, fiery]
    He [Nixon] had promised a "fair" investigation of [Senator Joseph] McCarthy's charges, which satisfied McCarthy's perfervid followers without implying that Nixon thought the charges had much merit. It was his usual acrobatic performance.
    – Conrad Black, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full
 
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Today’s word is in honor of Barack Obama, marking his inauguration today. Our quote is from today’s Wall Street Journal.

equanimity – steadiness of mind, composure, esp. when under stress
[from Latin æquus even + animus mind, spirit]
    Mr. Obama is likewise equipped with a first-class temperament. He wore the pressures of an epic campaign as lightly as anyone since Ronald Reagan. While his opponents lurched amid this or that headline, the man from Hawaii via Harvard and Chicago never lost his cool. This equanimity will serve him well amid the crises to come … .
 
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delectation – pleasure and delight
[from Latin delectare to please, to charm]

OED says “more or less affected or humorous, and restricted to the lighter kinds of pleasure.” I would say that today’s word has the connotation of a cheap and selfish pleasure, of which one should perhaps be a bit ashamed. What do you think?

Our first quote concern 1960s Alabama Governor George Wallace. The second is form the biography of one of the musicians in The Eagles, a popular rock group.
    The 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed federal funding for any institution practicing segregation. Administrators at two Alabama [mental] hospitals had been foolish enough to make token efforts to comply. Thus it was that at the crack of dawn, inmates were roused from their beds and shipped to the opposite institution, 140 miles away – a show of resegregating Alabama's madmen for the delectation of his political base.
    – Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (ellipses omitted)

    All of us were faced with an ongoing daily opportunity to be unfaithful. The video crew even put together a film calldh The Eagles’ Greatest Tits, which showed the astonishing array of breasts revealed nightly for our delectation by women in the audience.
    – Don Felder, Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles
 
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It has no connotations of cheapness or selfishness to me.


Richard English
 
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Nor to me.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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A few days ago we saw the contrast between being excessively fervent (“perfervid”) and having composure (“equanimity”). Today’s word contrasts with the pleasure and delight (“delectation”) we saw yesterday.

dolor; dolourliterary: painful grief; great sorrow or distress
[Latin dolor pain, grief]
    All I wanted out of this film was a scant 90 minutes reprieve from the dolour of a wet February in London, and all I got was a sense of irritation …
    – Evening Standard, Feb. 26, 2004
 
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The nymphs of classical Greek mythology were a semi-divine spirits, contact with whom could induce a crazed frenzy in humans. People so afflicted were nympholēptos, or nymph-seized. [lēptos: seized, taken, as in epilepsy; cognate to our word lemma]

nympholepsy – an emotional frenzy, esp. from desire for something unattainable (such as from frustrated idealism). adj. nympholeptic; noun nympholept
    And in nympholeptic climbing, poets pass from mount to star
    – Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Lady Geraldine's Courtship

    We run out together, hand in hand, spontaneously down the slopes. Yes, downhill in a kind of hectic nympholepsy, the grass snapping at our ankles, the clouds deafening us and the distant cathedral spire swimming up as if to impale us.
    – Lawrence Durrell, The Black Book‎ (ellipses omitted)
A lovely meaning. But another meaning is probably more useful.

nympholepsy – a man's passion or desire for young girls
    We are giving our nympholeptic president 70 percent approval ratings and making Viagra the fastest-selling drug in the nation.
    – Washington Times, Aug. 27, 1998

    … men, many of whom are still afflicted by a kind of sandbox nympholepsy—the women desired being a procession of "playmates" …
    – Time Magazine, In Praise of Older Women, Apr. 24, 1978
 
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From etymonline we read: nymphomania 1775, in Eng. translation of "Nymphomania, or a Dissertation Concerning the Furor Uterinus," by Fr. doctor M.D.T. Bienville, coined from Gk. nymphe "bride" + mania "madness."

Likewise, narcolepsy is seized by sleep.

Well, if first the bride is mad, then to keep our analogies straight, nympholepsy must mean she caught you.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Robert Arvanitis,


RJA
 
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wroth – intensely angry; highly incensed
[Old English, related to wrath and writhe]

The word usually has an antique flavor. In the phrase "to wax wroth", the word "wax" does not refer to candle wax. It is the opposite of the verb "to wane".
    Hitler waxed so wroth at this fiasco that he ordered the fleet scrapped, and the guns put to use on land.
    – Herman Wouk, War and Remembrance

    And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
    – King James Bible, Genesis 5:4-5
Groucho Marx makes a terrible pun on "wroth" in the movie "Horse Feathers" (1932). In the role of the president of Huxley College he speaks (blue type) with his receptionist (red type):
    Oh, Professor, the Dean of Science wants to know how soon you can see him. He says he's tired of cooling his heels out here.
    Tell him I'm cooling a couple of heels in here.
    The Dean is furious! He's waxing wroth!
    Is Roth out there, too? Tell Roth to wax the Dean for awhile.
 
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paroxysm – a sudden outburst of emotion or action (also, a spasm or fit; a convulsion)
    Mary Lincoln's grief over [her son] Willie's death was even more devastating than her husband's. … For many months the mere mention of Willie's name sent her into paroxysms of weeping, and Lincoln had to employ a nurse to look after her.
    – David Herbert Donald, Lincoln

A reader was offended by my recent treatment of the word equanimity (see here), and he wrote, "We don't want your propaganda in our inbox masquerading as word definitions anymore." My apologies to any I have offended. Here's an alternate quotation.
    . . ."Can I say 'screw you' and still keep my job?"
    . . .His mouth quirked into a grin. "Yes, but no thanks."
    . . ."It was a figure of speech."
    . . .She forced herself to respond to his casualness with equanimity because a substantial sum of money was at stake, and she had no intention of sleeping with him anyway. But the indignity of being rejected before she could reject him was galling.
    – Susan Johnson, Hot Legs
 
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quote:
A reader was offended by my recent treatment of the word equanimity (see here), and he wrote, "We don't want your propaganda in our inbox masquerading as word definitions anymore."

I grieves me when people see malice where malice does not exist. The quotation was not yours, it was the Wall Street Journals and is, one must assume, their opinion of the attributes of Obama.

But even if it were your own quote, to suggest that a politician has equanimity does not mean that you support that politician or even his views. You are simply saying that he has a measure of steadiness under pressure.


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(I know it matters to you not one whit, but) just so you know that you're not alone in this sort of thing, Anu did a week of Obama quotations and claims he got minor complaints, hate mail, cancellations, the whole gamache.
 
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Some people only want to hear what they want to hear. Since you can't please them, or know exactly what displeases them, i say ignore them.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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