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We return to one of my favorite themes: eponyms, or words that came from the proper name of a person, etc.

priapic1. phallic 2. overly concerned with masculinity
[priapism – persistent, usually painful penile erection, esp. from disease rather than arousal]
[ultimately from Greek Priapus, the god of procreation]

I'd thought this was a rare word, but it seems to be much more commonly-used than I had thought. Recent examples:
    Like most women, I am ready to believe that John Prescott is a priapic old goat.
    – Rachel Cooke, The Observer, March 4, 2007

    Turtle eggs were once thought of as being a source of arousal, and arugula has been considered an aphrodisiac since the first century A.D. Rhinoceros horns are still so prized for their alleged priapic powers that the species has been hunted nearly to extinction.
    – Richmond Times Dispatch, Feb. 13, 2007

    His cruder language suggested an interest that was more priapic than romantic.
    – letter, Concord (NH) Monitor, March 6, 2007
 
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An excellent word to have in one's repertoire for describing errant brothers-in-law or poor drivers. Of course, I'll have to use it in conversation a few times for it to stick (ahem).


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There's a whole phylum of marine worms, Priapulida, thus named for obvious reasons. Not to be confused with sub-phylum Urochordata, or the so-called sea squirts.

Addendum

Come to think of it, I'm wondering where the fat innkeeper fits in?

[Corrected typo.]

This message has been edited. Last edited by: zmježd,


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If you want to know where the worm fits in, ask your wife. Wink


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"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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I would think calling words that are named after gods and other mythic or legendary creatures, eponyms, a bit problematic. It seems that often the god or creature is named after his/her/its sphere of influence or one of its primary attributes. In some cases there might be a chicken vs. egg condition. Which came first, eros the word or Eros the deity; and how do you know from which the word erotic descended? A similar question perhaps applies to priapic.


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where the worm fits in

Ah, it turns.


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procrustean – acting with mindless and harmful disregard of natural variation or individuality
[Some dictionaries suggest ruthless means to produce conformity. I think of it more as an arbitrary, one-size-fits approach, disregarding individual differences. An attempt to fit all pegs, whether square or round, into square holes.]
[after Procrustes, mythical robber of Attica who seized travelers, tied them to his bed, and to make them fit either stretched their limbs or lopped of their legs]
    So the Chicago School economists put everything into their own Procrustean Bed no matter how well it fits or how badly it fails to fit.
    – Hagerstown (MD) Morning Herald, Feb. 18, 2007

    . . .Greek mythology contains a story about an innkeeper [actually, a robber] named Procrustes, who took in travelers. … If he was too long for the bed, Procrustes chopped off his legs to the right length. If he was too short, Procrustes tied the traveler to a rack and stretched him to the right length. You didn't want to have to spend the night at Procrustes' place.
    . . .When I thought about this story, I realized it pertained to how we have gone about educating our children. We have offered them a one-size-fits-all education, and if they didn't fit the bed we made for them, the consequences were sometimes dire. … we must discover alternatives to our Procrustean approach to educating.
    – Paul D. Houston, School Administrator, Oct., 2003
 
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Did anyone else crack up over the fat innkeeper? I thought it was the funniest thing I’ve seen for a while. Thanks,zmježd!

Here’s one from Websters (1913):

(priapean) (n.) A species of hexameter verse so constructed as to be divisible into two portions of three feet each, having generally a trochee in the first and the fourth foot, and an amphimacer in the third.

What’s phallic about that? 6 feet? Heh heh.
 
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A species of hexameter verse so constructed as to be divisible into two portions of three feet each, having generally a trochee in the first and the fourth foot, and an amphimacer in the third.

Thanks for that, stella. There's an epigram by Martial that I've always wondered about:

quote:
Accidit infandum nostrae scelus, Aule, puellae;
Amisit lusus deliciasque suas:
Non quales teneri ploravit amica Catulli
Lesbia, nequitiis passeris orba sui,
Vel Stellae cantata meo quas flevit Ianthis,
Cuius in Elysio nigra columba volat:
Lux mea non capitur nugis neque moribus istis,
Nec dominae pectus talia damna movent:
Bis denos puerum numerantem perdidit annos,
Mentula cui nondum sesquipedalis erat.

An unspeakable calamity has chanced to a girl of mine, Aulus:
she has lost her plaything and her darling,
not such a one as Lesbia, the mistress of tender Catullus,
deplored when she was forlorn of her sparrow's roguish tricks,
nor such as Ianthis, sung of by my Stella,
wept for, whose black dove flits in Elysium.
My love is not taken by triffles, nor by such passions as that;
nor do such losses move my mistress' heart:
she has lost a boy just counting twice six years,
whose prick was not yet a foot and a half long.

[Martial. Epigrammata. VII.xiv. translated by Walter C A Ker.]


So, I guess, it could be a play on a quarter of a priapean verse. The Stella in the poem is L. Arruntius Stella, a man.


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The traditional meaning of today's word is "a jinx" (see last quote). But the word has developed a new usage, not yet recognized in the dictionaries, which has become quite common and has persisted over the years. In fact, it seems to be the more common meaning nowadays. Our thanks to Mr Quentin Letts, British news commentator, for bringing it to our attention.

Jonah
1. one who brings ill-fortune to those around him; a jinx
2. a prophet of doom and gloom
    meaning 2:
    the moralistic Jonahs attacking him represent old Conservatism.
    – Quentin Letts, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 13, 2007

    Despite the recession predictions from certain Jonahs, I find that … consumers are ready to reach for their wallets and spend
    – New York Times, May 6, 1990

    Some Jonahs muttered darkly as they recalled another internet boom exploding only a few years back, but the cheerleaders were adamant: this time it was diffferent.
    – The Independent, Sept. 11, 2005

    meaning 1:
    Fear spread through the ship as people whispered about impending disaster and a Jonah on board.
    – The Telegraph, Feb. 16, 2004
 
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goliath or Goliath – a giant
[after the Biblical character Goliath, whom David slew]
    Albertus Magnus entered the shelter about a week ago, a Goliath of a cat whose girth made some of us wonder: If that's how big he grew as a stray, what if he'd been given free rein at the fridge?
    – Attleboro (MA) Sun Chronicle, Feb. 9, 2007
 
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Today, two words (one familiar, one antique) for the price of one.

negus – wine and hot water with sugar and lemon juice and nutmeg
[from Colonel Francis Negus (d. 1732), who reputedly invented this drink]

sandwich – two pieces of bread with a filling between them. (verb: sandwich between: to insert between two people or things)
[John Montagu (1718-92), 4th Earl of Sandwich, who ate cold meat sandwiches so he could eat at the gaming table rather than get up for a proper meal. In his honor, James Cook named the Sandwich Islands, now known as the Hawaiian Islands.]
    I dare say your own hands are almost numbed with cold. Leah, make a little hot negus and cut a sandwich or two: here are the keys of the storeroom.
    – Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
 
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