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The Scrips National Spelling Bee is "the nation’s largest and longest-running educational promotion," says its site. This annual spelling bee, for children up to 8th grade, has been given since 1925. This week will enjoy some of the words by which the winners have claimed their titles in various years.

spoliator – one who spoliates; a spoiler (spoliate: to plunder; to pillage; to despoil; to rob)
    An international consensus is developing that States should take special steps to ensure the protection of their underwater heritage. Divers, and particularly those interested in shipwrecks, are often said to be of independent character, resourceful and sceptical of authority. Although many States have comprehensive legislation to protect the underwater cultural heritage, and even those that do not have other legislative weapons in hand to protect them from the spoliator, the cultural authorities should not become complacent.
    – Lyndel V. Prott and Patrick J. O'Keefe, Law and the underwater heritage - protection of cultural property, UNESCO Courier, Nov. 1987
 
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haruspex – a priest in ancient Rome who practiced divination by the inspection of the entrails of animals

It was a haruspex who warned Julius Caeser, "Beware the Ides of March."

Think we today are too sophisticated for such things? Think again.
    ... faith healers, witches, Tarot readers, numerologists, fortune-tellers, astrologers, and other contemporary counterparts of the ancient augur, auspex, and haruspex continue to thrive as both cult and business. ... Greeley reported that 73 percent of Americans believe in miracles and 40 percent report contact with the dead, while people in other Western industrialized countries score comparably high on the "magic" scale.
    – Justin Kaplan and Anne Bernays, The Language of Names: What We Call Ourselves and Why It Matters
 
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From divination to dining: "auspex" is related to the classic trio -- piscator, venator, auceps, meaning fisherman, hunter, birder.

And I wonder if the most difficult job in ancient Rome was the "haru-au-spex," diviner of entrail, of birds.


RJA
 
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haruspex

The Romans felt that this was a loanword from Etruscan, but I've seen IE etymologies provided for it, but just can't remember them at the moment. The -spex part probably has something to do with specio 'to look (at, behold'. Cf. the -dex in judex 'judge' from dico 'to speak, say, tell'.
 
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troche – (two syllables; rhymes with SHOW-me) a medicated lozenge used to soothe the throat
The same lozenge could also be called a pastille
    His nervous, ministerial cough annoyed the doctor. He drew off his glove and felt in his vest pocket. "Have a troche, Kronborg," he said, producing some. "Sent me for samples. Very good for a rough throat."
    – Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark
 
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Originally posted by wordcrafter:
_troche_ – (two syllables; rhymes with SHOW-me)

It most certainly does NOT rhyme with "SHOW-me." It rhymes with "Loki" (or "low-key"). If you want something to rhyme with "SHOW-me," try "homey."
 
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Thanks for the clarification, Q - I was wondering about that.


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"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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A very uncommon word today, but what a glorious quotation for it!

smaragdine– of or pertaining to emerald; resembling emerald; of an emerald green
    As I trod the trackless way
    Through sunless gorges of Cathay,
    I became a little child,
    By nameless rivers, swirling through
    Chasms, a fantastic blue,
    Month by month, on barren hills,
    In burning heat, in bitter chills,
    Tropic forest, Tartar snow,
    Smaragdine archipelago,
    See me --- led by some wise hand
    That I did not understand.
    Called on Him with mild devotion,
    As the dewdrop woos the ocean.
    – Aleister Crowley, Aha!
 
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lyceum – a public hall for lectures and concerts; an association for debate and literary improvement. [From Greek Lukeion, the school outside Athens where Aristotle taught]

Another meaning of lyceum is a lycée, which is our bonus word:
lycée
(rhymes with 'repay") a French public secondary school that prepares students for the university
    But consider how little this village does for its own culture. We have a comparatively decent system of common schools, schools for infants only; but excepting the half-starved Lyceum in the winter, and latterly the puny beginning of a library suggested by the State, no school for ourselves. We spend more on almost any article of bodily aliment or ailment than on our mental aliment. It is time that we had uncommon schools, that we did not leave off our education when we begin to be men and women.
    – Henry David Thoreau

    David McCullough, Brave Companions:
    (p. 23) The country was in the throes of an educational awakening. It was the heyday of the lyceum, the nationwide movement to increase "the general diffusion" of learning with public lectures. In Massachusetts alone there were well over a hundred local lyceums ...

    (p. 50) She [Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin] was asked to give readings, to go on the lyceum, as the contemporary lecture circuit was called, like Robert Ingersoll, P T. Barnum, and the feminists. She needed the money, so at age sixty-one, having never made a public speech before, she embarked on a new career with its endless train rides, bad food, and dreary hotels.
 
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Another meaning of _lyceum_ is a lycée, which is our _bonus word:
lycée_ – _(rhymes with 'repay")_


What is this? Would anyone consider this a valid two lines of poetry?: "I had to return to repay/My tuition at the lycée."
 
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Doggerel is as doggerel does. But follow the link to pronunciation at the following site:

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=lycee


RJA
 
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pococurante – nonchalant; indifferent
An Italian word that merits more frequent use. To me, it seems to have a laid-back casual "whatever, man" sense, but the cites are too few to really be certain of the nuances.
    On the side of his intellect he was a mere Pococurante, far too apathetic about public affairs, far too sceptical as to the good or evil tendency of any form of polity.
    – Thomas B. Macaulay, Critical and Historical Essays, Volume 2, essay on Samuel Johnson, Part II

    Notwithstanding the Administrative Judge's perception of Williamson as pococurante about responding to the Acknowledgement Order, all indications are that Williamson intended to refile his appeal, that he took reasonable and good faith steps to do so, and that he intended to present evidence within the time frame permitted by the requested suspension.
    – United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, Williamson v. Merit Systems Protection Board, July 2, 2003
Voltaire uses Procurante as a character-name. Chapter 25 of Candide is entitled "Candide and Martin Pay a Visit to Seignor Pococurante, a Noble Venetian."
 
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Originally posted by Robert Arvanitis:
Doggerel is as doggerel does. But follow the link to pronunciation at the following site:

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=lycee

Only members of dictionary.com get to listen to sound bites.
 
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Originally posted by wordcrafter:
_pococurante_ – nonchalant; indifferent
An Italian word that ...


You forgot "rhymes with 'lycée'."
 
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quote, about dictionary.reference.com/search?q=lycee: "Only members of dictionary.com get to listen to sound bites."

Quite right, q. To get free sound bites at the apple, you'll have to go to other sites provided by one-look. Among them, MWeb or AHD will do the trick.
 
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Thanks, shufitz, for the note to free sound plays.

I actually had in mind the original link to the pronunciation, with text examples. That table shows the long a-bar sound, to rhyme with "pay."


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Today's word leads us, after the quotes, to J.R. Tolkien's very interesting thoughts about his own work.

eudaemonic – of or producing a contented state of happiness and well-being
(eudaemonism – a theory that the highest ethical goal is happiness and personal well-being
[alternate spellings: eudaim~ or eudam~. [Grk. eu- + daimon = "good or happy spirit]
    What animates [Jackson] Pollock at such moments is a kind of higher sensualism, an unshakable confidence in the eudaimonic power, even the moral force of sheer beauty.
    – James Gardner, National Review, Dec. 7, 1998

    Hollywood has attained impressive aesthetic successes with the happy ending. And where it works artistically, and is not simply a matter of convention, it seems to be related to eudaimonism, the moral philosophy positing that happiness has a solid ethical base, or some exposition of the good life, which is a major factor in the successful achievement of eucatastrophe.
    – Christopher Garbowski, Mythlore, Sept. 22, 2002

    This perception should not lead to ... Stoicism, admirable as that is. If it leads to anything at all, it is to an unillusioned recognition of reality, what is the case, whether we wish it so or no--together with an undiminished resolve to act without eudaemonic fictions.
    – Frank L. Cioffi, An Interview with Ihab Hassan, Style, Sept. 22, 1999

One meaning of catastrophe is "the concluding action of a drama, resolving the plot". J.R. Tolkien coined the term eucatastrophe (used above), in analyzing his own work, meaning very roughly "happy ending". Here is his discussion (excerpted), in his essay Tree and Leaf; all highlighted words seem to be his coinages:
    But the "consolation" of fairy-tales has another aspect than the imaginative satisfaction of ancient desires. Far more important is the Consolation of the Happy Ending. I would say that Tragedy is the true form of Drama, its highest function, but the opposite is true of Fairy-story. Since we do not appear to possess a word that expresses this opposite—I will call it Eucatastrophe. The eucatastrophic tale is the true form of fairy-tale, and its highest function. This joy, which is one of the things which fairy-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially "escapist." It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy.

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There's a book called The Eudaemonic Pie by Thomas A. Bass which is about some physicists who take on a roulette table at a Las Vegas casino. In the end they get greedy and get caught, but theirs is an interesting story.

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Originally posted by wordcrafter: pococurante – nonchalant; indifferent. Voltaire uses Procurante as a character-name. Chapter 25 of Candide is entitled "Candide and Martin Pay a Visit to Seignor Pococurante, a Noble Venetian."
The history of our English word "pococurante" shows that it in fact comes from the Voltaire character in Candide. There, Seignor Porocurante is simply a caricature of that "indifferent" attitude. (I won't summarize; enjoy the pleasure of reading this brief chapter yourself.) Our heros converse as they depart from their visit with him.
    Candide said to Martin, "Well, I hope you will own that this man is the happiest of all mortals, for he is above everything he possesses." "But do not you see," answered Martin, "that he likewise dislikes everything he possesses? ..." "True," said Candide, "but still there must certainly be a pleasure in criticising everything, and in perceiving faults where others think they see beauties." "That is," replied Martin, "there is a pleasure in having no pleasure."
Very soon after Candide was published (1759), pococurante made its first known appearance in English, in Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. (Vol. 6 ch. 20. The work was published in installments over several years; this particular volume came out in 1762.) So it seems pretty clear that Sterne got the term, directly or indirectly, from Candide.
 
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