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A company-website URL is often simply the company name, but without spaces, capitalization or special characters. Thus "Barnes & Noble" becomes barnesandnoble.com, for example.

The apocryphal tale is told of the website of a specialty retailer that sold ink-pens in hundreds of types and styles. It used the company name, Pen Island. It failed to anticipate that the URL penisland.com can have an unfortunate misreading if one splits the words after the first five letters, rather than after the first three!

This week we'll present what might be called "Pen Island" words: words that could be misunderstood if split incorrectly. For example, beestings does not mean "the stingers of certain honey-making insects".

beestings – the first "milk" produced by a mammal (esp. a cow or, sometimes, a goat) after giving birth.
Also called colostrum. It is particularly rich in antibodies and minerals.
    People in old times were well satisfied if they were not injured by strange and wild beasts, … but those of later days have by now learnt to make use of them, for they feed on their flesh, and clothe themselves with their wool, and make medical use of their gall and beestings, and turn their hides into shields, so that we might reasonably fear, if beasts failed man, that his life would become brutish, and wild, and void of resources.
    – Plutarch's Morals (translation by Arthur Richard Shilleto, Trinity College, Cambridge, 1898)
 
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Hey, Wordcrafter, that's a great coinage. Perhaps it will be the 2009 word of the year next year! Wink
 
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quote:
The apocryphal tale is told of the website of a specialty retailer that sold ink-pens in hundreds of types and styles.

It's not apocryphal; the web site exists. However, it is at http://www.penisland.net - not .com.


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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Maybe not apocryphal but possibly what snopes calls "multiple truth values". The site, as we've discussed before, exists but is it a real company? Navigating around it leads only to dead ends or to adverts for other pen suppliers, which doesn't seem to be much of a business strategy.

My suspicion is that the creators of the site knew exactly what they were doing and are not a real company in any sense other than accepting advertising from others.
 
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Men and women have different ways of speaking. But today's word does not mean "male diction", the way men talk.

malediction – a curse (in the sense of an evil spell, not just a "curse word);
. . .also, the act of calling down a curse upon

Come to think of it, some might say that indeed this is "male diction"!
    [speaking of the title characters in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean:]
    They're victims of a curse that's made them into pirate versions of the Flying Dutchman, doomed to wander the world until the malediction is finally undone.
    – Christian Science Monitor, July 11, 2003
 
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I love this theme.

Just today our son said that at his work someone asked what shit-take mushrooms were. It couldn't have been more perfect for this theme! Wink
 
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Today's word is not "a secure cover for a cooking utensil".

potlatch – an opulent ceremonial feast at which possessions are given away or destroyed to display wealth or enhance prestige
(orig. among certain Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest; also in fig. and ext. use)
    I should also give some space to Amotz' Zahavi's idea that altruistic donation might be a 'Potlatch' style of dominance signal: see how superior to you I am, I can afford to make a donation to you!
    – Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (author's introduction to 30th anniversary edition)

    The game has become secondary to a potlatch ceremony called tailgate picknicking … This … requires that the host participants outdo their neighbours in the quality and variety of food and drink and the elegance of serving accessories.
    – Toronto Globe & Mail, Sept. 26, 1970 (thanks to OED for this quote)

    Louis XIV remained an avid hunter even in older age. … The hunt establishment was another chance to show off the king of France's resources. Hunting consumed these rather like the ritual destructions that anthropologists call potlatch. All France joined in sending an annual tribute of falcons to the king, of which perhaps just three or four were used in falconry, while the rest were killed.
    – Tony Spawforth, Versailles: A Biography of a Palace
 
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These kinds of words were a running joke on the Saturday Night Live Celebrity Jeopardy parodies: the pen is mightier; therapists; an album cover ...
 
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sidereal1. relating to the stars (or constellations)
2. of time periods: determined or measured by means of the stars: sidereal day; sidereal year;
. . .of the movement of a planet or moon: relative to the stars

We illustrate each usage.
    Staring into the sidereal unreality of her beauty, which wheeled in the room like a galaxy on fire, he was thinking that if he had been able to wish his ideal woman into being if he'd had a magic lamp to rub, this would have been what he'd have wished for.
    – Salman Rushdie, Fury

    [Your article says] that our planet twirls on its axis every 24 hours and so gives us our days. In fact, the Earth twirls once on its axis every 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds (approximately). This so-called sidereal day measures the rotation of the Earth with respect to the stars. Because of the Earth's movement in its orbit of the Sun, an additional (approximately) 4 minutes is needed for the Sun to reach an overhead position, the so-called 24-hour solar day.
    – New York Times (letter to editor), Jan. 30, 2007
    (A 1794 quote in OED makes the same point:
    "There must be one more siderial [sic] day in a year than there are solar days.")
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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quote:
Originally posted by wordcrafter:
Today's word is not "a secure cover for a cooking utensil".

potlatch – an opulent ceremonial feast ...among certain Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest

If the potlatch takes place in Western British Columbia the host may have them spend the night on Haida beds. http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/cultural/northamerica/haida.html
 
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Does the potlatch give access to the stash?
 
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The dogfood that the dog ate has nothing to do with "dogate".

dogate – the office of a doge
. . .doge (long ō) – the tit/e of the chief magistrate in old Venice and Genoa; loosely, any chief magistrate or leader

In the movie The Court Jester, Danny Kaye plays the lead role of Hubert Hawkins, a hapless carnival performer who masquerades as the king's newly-hired jester. When Hawkins (black type) first meets the king (red), this nonsense ensues:
    The Duke. What did the Duke do?
    Eh... the Duke do?
    Yes. And what about the Doge?
    Oh, the Doge!
    Eh. Well what did the Doge do?
    The Doge do?
    Yes, the Doge do.
    Well, uh, the Doge did what the Doge does. Eh, uh, when the Doge does his duty to the Duke, that is.
    What? What's that?
    Oh, it's very simple, sire. When the Doge did his duty and the Duke didn't, that's when the Duchess did the dirt to the Duke with the Doge.
    Who did what to what?
    Oh, they all did, sire. There they were in the dark; the Duke with his dagger, the Doge with his dart, Duchess with her dirk.
    Duchess with her dirk?
    Yes! The Duchess dove at the Duke just when the Duke dove at the Doge. Now the Duke ducked, the Doge dodged, and the Duchess didn't. So the Duke got the Duchess, the Duchess got the Doge, and the Doge got the Duke!
    Curious. I... I... hm? What? What's that? All I heard was that the Duchess had a siege of rheumatism. She's 83, you know.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
 
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potsherd – a piece of broken pottery
Bonus word:
spat
– see quote
    History tells us … that fishermen at Rhodes were wont to throw potsherd into the bays to provide housing for oyster "spat." Spat are young, floating oysters, which attach themselves to oyster shells and artificial beds.
    – Eula Mae Doré and Marcelle R. Bienvenu, Eula Mae's Cajun Kitchen
 
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