What could be more fascinating that people, the variety of the human experience? This week we'll present odd words for everyday types of people, particularly concerning how they deal with words.
gobemouche - a silly and credulous person. Literally, from French swallow a fly; a person with mouth so wide open that a bug flies in. A gobemouche will swallow anything you tell him.
Note: The word is not intended as a tie-in to last week's "food" theme.
dehort - to urge to abstain or refrain; to dissuade.
In other words, the opposite of exhort: to urge or incite to action. Dehort is an obsolete term that would be very useful; I know of no other word conveying that meaning.
well, dissuade works pretty well; or you can exhort to inaction.
quidnunc - one who seeks to know all the latest news or gossip; a busybody
Latin quid nunc? = what now?
Not finding current usage, I offer this:
philodox - a person fond of opinions, especially their own
A nice word I plan to use more.
"Facts are but the Play-things of lawyers, -- Tops and Hoops, forever a-spin.... Alas, the Historian may indulge no such idle Rotating. History is not Chronology, for that is left to lawyers, -- nor is it Remembrance, for Remembrance belongs to the People. History can as little pretend to the Veracity of the one, as claim the Power of the other, -- her Practitioners, to survive, must soon learn the arts of the quidnunc, spy, and Taproom Wit, -- that there may ever continue more than one life-line back into a Past we risk, each day, losing our forebears in forever, -- not a Chain of single Links, for one broken Link could lose us All, -- rather, a great disorderly Tangle of Lines, long and short, weak and strong, vanishing into the Mnemonick Deep, with only their Destination in common." - Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon
(this is just the sort of word that Pynchon loves to bandy about..)
"a person" ...... "their"
Five or six decades ago when I was learning the rules of English grammar, the quoted definition above would properly have been written, "
philodox - a person fond of opinions, especially his own"
Apparently the rule about agreement in number between the pronoun and its antecedent has changed.
in fact, that is how you'd find it defined by OED (1989 ed.). the various online 'hard-word' dictionaries go through the usual contortions to avoid this: 'one's own', 'his/her' (mea culpa), 'their'. I really prefer the original.
(which I'll append here, as it adds a significant gloss..)
The rules haven't but the prevailing attitudes have.
I'm too lazy to find the reference but one of the first threads I participated in here was about the use of non gender specific pronouns.
Basically you have five options.
1. Always use "he/him/etc". That's a definite no-no these days.
2. Arbitrarily use/swap "he/him/etc" and "she/her/etc" which I find jarring when I read it.
3. Use "they/them" etc which may be technically incorrect but has the merit of matching what most people actually say.
4. Invent new words "heshe/himer/whatever" which is plainly ludicrous.
5. Recast the sentences completely which can sometimes lead to very convoluted rewordings.
Of these I personally favour redesignating "they/them/their" as "gender neutral third person singular pronouns" and using them. As this both is simple and in common oral use already I see no problem with it.
All the other options seem to me to raise more difficulties than they resolve.
After all is it really different to using "you" as both a singular and plural pronoun ?
Non curo ! Si metrum no habet, non est poema.
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Dehort is an interesting word that I had never heard of before, so I did a little searching. The root means "command", and it seems logical to me that "exhort" means to urge strongly, whereas "dehort" would mean to desist. "Hortus" means "army". A "Cohort" is a group of soldiers, comparable perhaps to a "company", which is made up of platoons, each of which is made up of squads. "Cohort" also is used in medical research, in studies of large numbers of individuals, usually referring to a generational group (such as those between the ages of 30 - 39), according to AHD. However, I have seen "cohort" referring to subjects grouped together for other reasons. Interestingly, AHD cites as a usage note that recently people have used "cohort" to mean individuals, rather than groups; for example, "The cashiered dictator and his cohorts have all written their memoirs...."
Let's get back to it.
shanachie (irish?/scotch?) - a person fond of telling the old tales and legands of the country
According to AHD, "shanachie" and "senile" are from the same root: sen = old. But remember: "senile" was not originally a pejorative term.
Is there any other term for a pleasant old man given to reminiscence -- or could this fill a void in our language?
I think a person such as this is more likely to be someone you'd hire to tell Gaelic folktales (the way you'd hire a folksinger), rather than an elderly neighbor. (just see what you get when you google® it.)
Here is a site that discusses a "shanachie" and has a good discussion of heraldry as well.
It would be nice to have a word for an elderly person (not just a man) who revels in reminiscing.
"Pretty well" suggests the question, "What are the subtle differences?" You can't answer that by looking at usage of "dehort," for there's very little usage. But approaching it on a perscriptive way (shame on me) it would seem to me that dehort would be the opposite of exhort, and dissuade as would be the opposite of persuade.
To me, and exhort and persuade are very different things: exhort involves as stirring appeal to the emotions, while persuade involves a successful appeal to calm reason. Does this make sense as a distinction?
If so, would dehort, as the opposite of exhort, mean
Looking back, is this post a wandering muddle?
I seem to have trouble finding this particular word in an online dictionary. Does anyone know a reason for this? Is it because the word is actually ancient in its origins?
Here's philodox, in the Dictionary of Difficult Words, Derek.
As to why you have a hard time finding it, your guess is as good as any.
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