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February 24, 2003, 05:58
Guess the theme
After two weeks of words so very obscure, you'll be glad to know that many of this week's word will be familiar ones. Your task is to guess the theme behind them.

steward – one who manages property or other affairs for someone else

Our quotation gives us an extra word.
[W]hat he said was so out of character that one can only conclude he was a doppelganger. [Gordon Brown] was prone to tinkering with the tax regime like a fussy mother seeing her offspring off to school. But that was forgivable - the price to pay for a cautious steward of the economy apparently immune to destabilising rushes of blood to the head.
Until, that is, this week.
- Edmond Warner, A doppelganger pops up on the Treasury bench, in The Guardian, April 20, 2002

February 25, 2003, 06:37
pavilion - a large and ornate tent
But more commonly applied sturctures of greater permanence, as a light roofed structure (picnic pavilion), a solid but temporary structure (the French pavilion at the World's Fair), a sports/entertainment arena, or a building within a complex (as a hospital).
[Though I will not yet predict that] the music in the new Disney Hall will rank among the world's supreme acoustical wonders ... The hall itself is close enough to completion that you can sense the intimacy of the place as compared to the Chandler Pavilion. It's not only a matter of smaller size; it's the contour of the room that seems to wrap itself around you.
- Alan Rich, The Site and the Sound, in LA Weekly (Los Angeles), January 16, 2003

[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Tue Feb 25th, 2003 at 6:49.]
February 26, 2003, 07:08
recalcitrant – stubbornly, defiantly resistant to authority or guidance

Our second quotation joins this word with one of our recent football-phrases.

"If the Americans get a unanimous Security Council resolution through, they would be in a much stronger position" to act against a recalcitrant Iraq, says Toby Dodge, a Middle East expert at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London.
- Peter Ford, The Christian Science Monitor, January 31, 2002

President Bush faced hardened resistance in the United Nations on Thursday to a war against Iraq and threatened to lead a coalition against Baghdad if the global body failed to back him.
- Evelyn Leopold and Randall Mikkelsen, Bush Threatens End Run Around Recalcitrant U.N., Reuters Oct. 3, 2002

February 27, 2003, 06:21
halcyon - calm; quiet; peaceful; undisturbed; happy
often used in the phrase "halcyon days"
It is a common lament that children today grow up too fast, that society is conspiring to deprive them of the halcyon childhood they deserve.
- Keith Bradsher, Fear of Crime Trumps the Fear of Lost Youth, New York Times, November 21, 1999

February 28, 2003, 05:24
Let's take a couple of very familiar words with interesting etymologies.

bugle - originally buglehorn, a horn made from the horn of an ox, from Old French. bugle = wild ox, and Latin buculus = heifer, young ox

butcher - from Old French bouchier = slaughterer of goats, and from bouc = male goat
February 28, 2003, 09:53
I am absolutely stumped! What do these words have in common????
March 01, 2003, 09:32
Time to reveal the theme.
Our words that trace back to animals (many having strayed far from their original meanings), and take on a new dimension when one knows the animal-imagery behind them. Thus:

Steward (one who manages affairs for someone else) originally meant "the fellow in charge of the pigsty; the "sty warden". Anglo Saxon stigu sty, pigpen + weard = guard, warden combined into stiweard, the "sty warden". In Middle English stiward came to mean the household officer in charge of the cattle, and later the head manager of the manor. The usual etymological sources, perhaps being some what coy, will trace this back as far as stig = hall, without going farther back to the pigsty.

And yes, this is the ultimate source of the family name of the Royal House of Stewart.

Pavilion (a large and ornate tent): The latin word for "butterfly", papilio, also meant an awning or tent, stretched out like a butterfly's wings. (I do not know if it meant specifically an ornate tent, colorful as a butterfly.) Papilio has come into French in the former sense (papillon = 'butterfly') but in English only in the later sense, pavilion.

Now lets have two new animal-words for today.

canopy – orignally, a screen against gnats or mosquitos. from Greek konops = "mosquito, gnat" and konopeion = "couch with mosquito curtains".

easel – traces back to the Dutch word ezel, meaning "ass," the comparison being of loading a burden on a donkey and propping up a painting or canvas on a wooden stand. The easel served the artist as an ass, dumbly bearing the load.

[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Sat Mar 1st, 2003 at 9:43.]
March 02, 2003, 11:51
We end with two words from birds:

pedigree – literally "foot of a crane". On a geneological chart, the group of lines branching from a person to his or her descendants looks rather like the footprint of a crane. Thus old manuscripts, putting the chart into text form, indicated "descent" by a forked symbol resembling a crane's foot. In Old French, "foot of a crane" is pied de gru – that is, 'pedigree'.

auspicious – from "bird omens". The ancient Romans studied the flights of birds for omens to forecast the future. From the words avis = 'bird" and specere = 'to see', they formed auspicium = 'divination by observing flights of birds'. Our word auspicious means 'of good omen'; I suspect, but cannot confirm, that it originally meant 'full of omen' whether good or bad.

And our past words:

recalcitrant – stubbornly, defiantly resistant to authority or guidance
From re- "back" + Latin calcitrare "to kick" from calx "heel." And of course, the mule is the animal notorious for kicking backwards. "Recalcitant" conveys the image of a stubborn mule kicking back.

halcyon - calm; quiet; peaceful; undisturbed; happy
The ancient Greeks believed that the time of the winter solstice, a bird built a floating nest upon the sea, and magically calmed the waters during its nesting time. This fble accounted for calm weather supposed to occur at that time of year.

The bird was called halkyon – the sources are somewhat confused as to whether this mean the kingfisher bird, or rather a mythical bird like the kingfisher (alkyon). The term halkyon also ties to hals "sea, salt" + kyon "conceiving".

[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Sun Mar 2nd, 2003 at 12:00.]
May 03, 2012, 11:46
Reviving a thread
Yesterday in my puppy obedience class our instructor asked me how our new border collie puppy was behaving. "She was recalcitrant this week," I said. One of my classmates said, "I don't know what that word means." Shu thinks she considered me arrogant to use the word, when I easily could have used "stubborn." However, the fact is, I really love the word. It is one of my favorites.

So...I looked it up on WC, and sure enough, I've used it a number of times here as well. Then I found this thread where the etymology of recalcitrant is given. I like it even more!
May 03, 2012, 18:10
Who didn't understand it, the puppy or the alleged owner?

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
May 03, 2012, 20:03
Ha! Ha! I don't know though that Shu is right when he says she thought I was "arrogant." I think she just wanted to know what I meant. I shouldn't have used that word, I guess.
May 04, 2012, 01:31
It is sometimes difficult to speak in the right register, especially if you don't know your audience that well. You might have been arrogant if you'd used the word in from of a class of 9-year-olds, say, but I don't believe the word is all that obscure. In fact, Wordcrafter, in his introductory post to this thread, says
After two weeks of words so very obscure, you'll be glad to know that many of this week's word will be familiar ones.

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.
May 04, 2012, 06:57
It was fun to read wordcrafter's excellent thread, published some years before I joined the forum. I see I must do some browsing in the Vocab Forum archives!
May 04, 2012, 07:41
Reminds me of the farmer who had a recalcitrant mule and asked a trainer (well-known in the area) to make the mule more receptive to commands. The trainer looked around the stable, picked up an ax handle, walked over to the mule, and hit it between the eyes with the wood.
The mule went down splay-legged.
The farmer protested, "Why did you hit my mule like that? I just want you to train him."
"Ah," said the man. "First you have to get their attention."

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.
May 05, 2012, 09:48
Originally posted by Kalleh:
Ha! Ha! I don't know though that Shu is right when he says she thought I was "arrogant." I think she just wanted to know what I meant. I shouldn't have used that word, I guess.

Too bad William F. Buckley Jr. wasn't in your class. Then she'd REALLY have something to bitch about! Big Grin

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
May 07, 2012, 07:16
Originally posted by Proofreader:
"First you have to get their attention."

This was a favorite and oft-repeated truism in my family growing up Wink

Re: family & 'is recalcitrant arrogant?'.. Last time I visited my 84y.o. mom, she interrupted some story of mine with a pleased sigh & said, "It's been years since I heard 'eclipse' used as a verb in spoken English."

The tendency to speak in a literary way is a hazard for those who read & discuss/write about literature regularly. Is it off-putting jargon, like using trade words with non-trade people? Or just communicating more precisely? Buckley could probably have reached a wider audience without changing a mot, had he not been in fact arrogant in his manner.
May 07, 2012, 17:16
Well, my intention was not to obscure. I think Buckley's was.
May 08, 2012, 01:52
Knowing his name, but not many details, I looked up William F Buckley in Wikipedia. I liked it that an author used one of my favourite words, sesquipedalian, in the article.

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.
May 08, 2012, 21:03
He was a magician with words, that's for sure. I bet he never used my favorite word. Wink