eutrapely - pleasantness in conversation, one of the seven moral virtues that Aristotle enumerated. In the New Testament this word was used to mean 'reprehensible levity of speech'.
The are few quotations available other than from reviews of the book, by Erin McKean, in which I found this word.
This week we'll feature pleasant conversationalists. Sadly, fewer words are available for pleasant conversationalists than for unpleasant ones -- so do feel free to supplement our offerings.
Where, in the N.T. would I look to find 'eutrapely'?
OneLook Dictionary Search gives just one link to a definition of eutrapely. That is to Forthrights Phrontistery - Dictionary of Obscure Words where it is defined as "wit, ease and urbanity of conversation".
>Where, in the N.T. would I look to find 'eutrapely'?
Duncan, that's an excellent question. My source is the book Weird and Wonderful Words by Erin McKean, of OED, which says that 'eutrapely' is so used but gives no cite. I'll e-mail her a note.
persifleur - one who indulges in persiflage; a banterer; a quiz
(persiflage - light teasing; good natured or frivolous talk)
(quiz [in this sense] - chiefly British to poke fun at; mock)
This sense of 'quiz' seems negative, although 'persiflage' does not. Can our brits comment on whether 'quiz' is negative, and if so perhaps used to have a different overtone?
[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Tue Mar 4th, 2003 at 5:10.]
The only use of the word quiz in modern British English is in the sense of "test". As a verb, it means "to ask questions". I see that AHD gives an alternative meaning of "to poke fun at, mock" and says that it is chiefly British. I must say I have never seen or heard this usage.
Apparently the original meaning was "a strange person".
See also World Wide Words and The Word Detective.
I had never heard of this meaning of the word Quiz either. However, the OED suggests that it is an archaic British expression meaning "to make sport of or regard with a mocking air".
Certainly not a current usage and the OED gives its origin as 18th century.
Now, what does the AHD say about "gadzooks!"? Another current UK expression, perchance?
Thanks, Arnie, for helping torpedo one of my favorite word etymology stories of all times.
I must have told that "a hundred street urchins with chalk" tale to people in a dozen different states and three countries myself (all of whom loved it and complimented me on my vast accumulation of interesting information) and am now obligated to contact every damn one of them and fess up.
Plus, your link to the Word Detective site (only slightly less addicting than heroin) helped me while away yet another hour that I could have put to better use double dactyling.
CJ, you crack me up! Just as I envision Richard in his Rolls-Royce, sipping a Hog's Back T.E.A.---I envision you madly writing, books & papers strewn around, chuckling to yourself as you write your 40th double dactyl!
causerie - informal discussion or chat, especially of an intellectual nature (also, a chatty piece of writing)
causeur - an easy talker, frequently witty, plesant to hear
causeuse - formerly meant a female version of the same; now means a small cofa cozy for two people to have a long chat
"How are you? Lovely day, isn't it?" (smile; nod of head) We're familiar with talk and gesture that, though it doesn't really communicate anything, is the social lubricant to maintain our channels of communication. But the word for this familiar phenomenon hasn't entered everyday vocabulary.
phatic - relating to speech used to share feelings or to establish a sociable mood, rather than to communicate information or ideas
English on-line explains:
"How are you?", is,indeed, a mere greeting today. But,surely, we have inherited this greeting from times when it was not phatic. When life was 'nasty, brutish, and short', "How are you?" was a serious and considerate question.
When I adopted this 'pleasant conversation' theme, several of my seven words came from a single compilation-book. But now, a check of OED reveals that one is not recognized, two others are not necessarily pleasant, and still others are pleasant but not necessarily conversation.
It's a sad thought that I can only find two words for pleasant conversation – plus an obscure Aristotelian word and a technical 20th-century coinage. So for the rest of the week, we'll stretch the scope of this theme just a bit.
subtlist (also subtilist) – one addicted to subtleties
subtilism – the quality or state of being subtle; subtlety
Not necessarily a positive word.
birkie – a lively, engaging, intelligent clean-cut, confident person
So says J.N. Hook's The Grand Panjandrum, saying that English ought to adopt this Scottish word. In fact it is already in our English dictionaries, but with oddly varying definitions.
- a man, especially one who is spirited and energetic (AHD)
- a lively smart assertive person (Webst. Coll.)
- a lively or mettlesome fellow (Webster's Rev. Unabridged)
- a strutting or swaggering fellow” (Chambers Dict., as cited in World Wide Words)
- a smart fellow, a conceited fellow, or a sharp-tongued, quick tempered person, usually a woman (on-line source)
I'd like to take it as a complimentary term. Here are some usages, some of them complimentary:
(A reader notes: "Birkie" has been in my vocabulary for some time, as an abbreviation for Birkenstock (sandals) -- some common usage examples: "Oh no, the dog ate my Birkie!" or "Where did I put those @W#$%&* Birkies?")
bridgebuilder – a peacemaker; an arbirator; one who seeks to help opposing sides understtand each others positions, and to reconcile their differences
The word could have broader use. It appears largely in the religious context and into the bafflegab of government-body mission statements.