jorum – an unusually capacious bowl or goblet (Charles E. Funk)
[Believed to be derived from this bible passage: Then Toi sent Joram his son unto king David, to salute him … And Joram brought with him vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of brass. II Samuel 8:10]
Charles Dickens was apparently fond of this word. He used it in five novels (Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Martin Chuzzlewit, The Pickwick Papers, The Old Curiosity Shop), and in lesser works.
– C.S. Lewis, family letter
The amiable creature beguiled the watches of the night by brewing jorums of a fearful beverage, which he called coffee, and insisted on sharing with me ; coming in with a great bowl of something like mud soup.
– Louisa May Alcott, Hospital Sketches
That has inspired our new theme on "biblical eponyns". Perhaps we can do our small bit to counteract that trend the editorialist noted. I quote below about a quarter of the editorial.
But I would guess that biblical literacy is a thing of the past. The lingua franca of modern, English-speaking people is not dense with scriptural allusion [or] reference to classical civilizations. If you dropped the names of Nestor, Agamemnon or Pericles, you would, I think, draw a near total blank from even educated listeners. The references we make today are not to these ancient sources of meaning. The references we make today tend to come from more recent worlds: Jefferson and Lincoln, Nelson and Churchill; Madonna not the Madonna, Britney not Brutus.
Does it matter that we have tended to drop the old referential structures? This is not necessarily a disaster. … But it is at least a shame, the fading of an aspect of our civilization that has enriched it. Without the set of archetypes and fount of wisdom in the Bible, our lives would be thinner and poorer.
– Adam Nicolson, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 23, 2005
Samson – a man of great physical strength.
[After the biblical strong-man whose tale is told in Judges xiii-xvi.]
Since the definition reads in the meter of a limerick, it seems appropriate to use a limerick (non-original) as our illustrative quote.
Was ravished three times in a hansom.
When she cried out for more,
A voice from the floor
Said, "Lady, I'm Simpson, not Samson."
hansom – a two-wheeled horse-drawn cab, with the driver seated behind
[after Joseph A. Hansom (1803-82), English architect, who designed it about 1834]
jumping Jehosaphat – used as a mild expletive ( Amer.Eng.), with an old-fashioned and countrified feel
[Several parts of the bible tell of the story of Jehosaphat, king of Judah, whose name has several different spellings. See 1 Kings ch.22; 2 Kings ch.3, and 2 Chronicles ch.17–22.]
– Robert A. Heinlein, The Door into Summer
Jumping had been added to other oaths, as in Jumping Geraniums!, Jumping Jellybeans!, Jumping Juleps!, Jumping Jupiter!, and Jumping Jiminy Cricket! (Notice that Jiminy Cricket plays off the initials of Jesus Christ.) Within a decade the verbal Jehosaphat was sometimes one who jumped (Mayne Reid, 1866¹: By the jumpin’ Geehosofat).
But at the time other forms were used as well, including an alliterative one. (George Washington Harris 1867: by the jinglin' Jehosephat), and the prevailing form seems to have been simply Jehosephat! or Great Jehosephat!, without jumping. No one has explained why jumping Jehosaphat ultimately prevailed.
Your wordcrafter may have discovered why. Recall that newspapers constantly need brief "filler" items to fill up the short games between articles. Here's one from the 1880s:
¹Edited, to correct the '1966' date to '1866'.This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
Sorry to be long-winded, but this follow-up will bring you a grin.
The earlier writers often treat Jehosapaht! as the sort of oath that a country bumpkin or a rube would use. That is, a character using that word is often portrayed as the butt of a joke, or as an illiterate. For example:
● Butts of jokes: the above 1880/81 steamboat story, and this further tale:
She was obliged to lift her dress as she crossed Main Street, as the street was muddy and she had on striped stockings. They were yellow stripes and green, and looked like a lot of crawling snakes; and a prominent citizen gazed on them in horror as he remarked, "Jehosaphat, I never had 'em that bad before," and right there he registered a vow that he would join the [temperance] movement. – Fred. H. Hart, Sazerac Lying Club (1878)
● Illiterate characters: the above 1867 and 1866 quotes, expanded:
‘By the jumpin’ Geehosofat, what a gurl she air sure enuf!’
Sut said carelessly, "Oh, nuffin but his note, I speck. Say yu thar mister a-b ab, is the fool-killer in the parts yu cum frum, duin his juty, ur is he ded? I thot so, by the jinglin Jehosephat." The old gentleman turned to me and asked in a confidential whisper, "Is not that person slightly deranged?" "Oh, no, not at all," [I replied,] "he is only troubled at times with violent attacks of durn'd fool."This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
Amazing how people can twist religion to support what they wish to do or believe. Two such doctrines involve the biblical Adam and are called "Adamite" (and more importantly, each led do a more-interesting secular meaning of the term).
Since Adam was naked, some claimed that the proper way to worship was to return to that state by casting off one's clothes. (How enjoyable worship must be! It often involved – well let's delicately say "the activities you might expect of naked adults gathered together.") More perniciously, some claimed that the Lord had created other, inferior humans before Adam. The descendents of Adam ("Adamites") were therefore superior to the others' descendents ("pre-Adamites") and, not surprisingly, the former were identified with the white race. Other peoples were classed as pre-Adamite and therefore inferior. I know, it sounds unbelievable, but I quote a modern proponent of that view:
adamite – 1. (religion): a. a sect whose members, purporting to return to Adam's pure condition, cast off their clothing as part of worship. b. a descendant of Adam – as opposed to a descendent of inferior peoples the Lord is supposed to have created before Adam (pre-Adamite). 2. (after 1.a. and b. above) a. a nudist or a naked person b. pre-Adamite (adj): of extreme antiquity
an Indian wench, perfumed with grease of bear and covered no more than an Adamite, flings herself upon him and bites him in the neck! "'God!" cried Ebenezer. The good man struggles, but the maid hath strength ...
– John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor [I modestly refrain from continuing to its conclusion this tale of "the singular martyrdom of Father FitzMaurice," a missionary – that is, his seduction.]
But don't you worry none, I've nought to fear from the likes o' that over there. He's just a barmy old loon-Verney the Adamite he is, harmless but he do tend to tear yer clothes given half the chance.
– Robin Jarvis, The Alchemist's Cat
Detached broken fossils of pre-adamite whales … have … at various intervals intervals, been found …
– Herman Melville, Moby Dick, ch. 104; more in ch.104-105
I am, in point of fact, a particularly haughty and exclusive person, of pre-Adamite ancestral descent. You will understand this when I tell you that I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic globule. Consequently, my family pride is something inconceivable.
– Gilbert & Sullivan, The Mikado, as spoken by Pooh-Bah
Methuselah – a very old man [but see below for extended senses]
[After biblical Methuselah, Genesis 5, who lived for 969 years.]
– Anton Myrer, Once an Eagle
[F]or most people more learning goes on faster up to the age of eighteen or twenty than ever after, even if they live to be older than Methuselah. (That is why vocabulary increases so rapidly for the first twenty years of life and comparatively at a snail's pace thereafter.)
– Norman Lewis, Word Power Made Easy
– Yann Martel, Life of Pi
Scientists have pinpointed the Methuselah gene - a stretch of DNA that confers healthy old age on men and women …
– Robin McKie, The Observer, Feb. 3, 2002
A methuselah (not capitalized) is a wine bottle of eight times the standard size.
Many oversized wine bottles are named after biblical characters: you can get a Jeroboam, Rehoboam, Methuselah, Salmanazar, Balthazar, Nebuchadnezzar, Melchior, or a Solomon of wine. Caution: Some of these terms refer to one volume when used for wine generally, but to a different volume when used for champagne.
Solomonic – having great wisdom or discretion in making difficult decisions; esp. by crafting compromise or by creatively "thinking outside the box"
OED's definition ("suggestive of the wisdom of Solomon") is not particularly helpful, unless you're already familiar with Solomon and know the nature of his wisdom. So I've composed the above definition, based on review of usage. If you don't like it, your money will be cheerfully refunded.
Here's a fine case of thinking outside the box:
. . .Finally, the producer came up with a brilliant, a positively Solomonic solution. He invited a prominent British diplomat to play Caesar, dressed in (British) Imperial regalia. The Army relaxed; the play opened, and as the first night curtain fell, [one saw] a front row full of Generals, all applauding wildly to signify their enjoyment of this patriotic work depicting the overthrow of imperialism by the freedom movement of Rome.
– Salman Rushdie, Shame: A Novel
doubting Thomas – one who insists on "seeing the evidence" (Note: this is not a term for simple hardheaded skepticism. Rather, it implies that the demand for evidence is uncalled-for or extreme.)
[After the apostle Thomas, who said he would disbelieve Jesus' resurrection until he saw Jesus with his own eyes. (John 20:24-29)]
– David McKittrick, The Independent (UK), Sep. 27, 2005
Some interesting trivia regarding the Doubting Thomas story.
First, it appears only in John, not in any of the other gospels.
This is also the only place in the NT where it is specified that Jesus's nail holes are in his hands. Anatomists seem to be in agreement that the hands aren't mechanically strong enough and the wrists are more likely, and historians tend to be of the opinion -- based on other sources -- that arms were tied to the crosses.
Another interesting twist on this story is the individual Didymus Thomas. Both Didymus and Thomas mean twin. The earliest sources (Mark, Q, Paul) all state unambiguously that Jesus has brothers, and there is a very old Syriac tradition that Judas Thomas was Jesus's twin brother. Hence, the choice of Thomas to be the doubtful one may have been an answer to those who claimed that the Jesus's resurrection was merely his twin brother Judas impersonating him. Thomas is present at the subsequent appearance story in John as well, but plays no other part in any of the other gospels except to be mentioned as a disciple.
Another bit of trivia: St Judas Thomas Didymus is thought by some to be the apostle who evangelized India.
—Ceci n'est pas un seing.
Unfortunately, Thomas preached complete celibacy, which met with little success. For the full story see the Acts of Thomas.