This week we'll look at toponyms: words from place-names.
Siberia – a cold, inhospitable place, or a place of exile, banishment, or imprisonment
[Teddy Roosevelt] had served a single two-year term as governor [of New York], and then ran as the number two man on the Republican presidential ticket in 1900. The party bosses in Albany [the state capital] felt the Siberia of the vice president's office was a way to get rid of Roosevelt. –Timothy Egan, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America
[A] former cocktail waitress is suing her former employers at Scores West for allegedly demanding she behave like a - well, like a stripper. Her bosses demanded she show more skin, and ordered her to cross the line physically with her amorous customers. . . .When she declined, they allegedly banished her to the corners of the Scores floor - a Siberia of few and stingy customers. "Sell yourself!" they'd advise, when she asked to be moved to a more profitable area of the floor. "Take out your boobs more!" . . .When she sought advice from another server about getting out of Scores Siberia, she was told to try to keep her mouth shut. "Act like a dumb blonde," the server advised. – New York Post, Dec. 13, 2007 (ellipses omitted)
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November 01, 2009, 18:33
When in Siberia, beware the shatuny.
November 01, 2009, 18:40
Is Siberia Lavrenty's brother?
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.
November 02, 2009, 19:36
A rare one today.
Lethean – pertaining to or causing oblivion or forgetfulness of the past [from the river Lethe, a river in Hades in Greek mythology. To drink its waters would cause one to forget the past. The word lethargic is related.]
We go eastward to realize history and study the works of art and literature, retracing the steps of the race; we go westward as into the future, with a spirit of enterprise and adventure. The Atlantic is a Lethean stream, in our passage over which we have had an opportunity to forget the Old World and its institutions. – Henry David Thoreau, Walking
November 03, 2009, 20:08
magenta – a color, variously described as purplish red, deep purplish red, purple-pink, and light mauvish crimson [a dye producing this color was discovered shortly after the Battle of Magenta, in Italy]
You'll find the name applied to colors that, to my eye at least, look quite a bit different. These three samples seem close to the norm: one, two, three.
The C.I.'s probing [of the corpse] had revealed no bullet holes anywhere on her body, but her … neck was swollen and bruised and bisected by an angry magenta line. – Jonathan Kellerman, Evidence: An Alex Delaware Novel
November 03, 2009, 20:28
Inspired by wordcrafter, found an excellent site which explains many of the chromatic phenomena. It also offers a neat color wheel so you can identify colors by their "RGB" code
The article is correct in pointing out that there isn't a one-to-one correspondence between color and wavelength, but magenta is not the only non-spectral color. For example, the entire bottom edge of the CIE chromaticity diagram consists of non-spectral colors (I suppose one could call most them shades of magenta, but the lower left side is purple). In fact, I'd argue that the colors of most things are non-spectral, because they reflect wavelengths all across the spectrum, in very complicated ways.
Nice to see you again, LlamaLady. I liked this comment from your site:
The high cost will deter others from using this color promiscuously.
Interesting use of promiscuously.
November 14, 2009, 18:17
hackneyed – overfamiliar through overuse; trite
… steer clear of stereotyped characters and hackneyed romance situations … – Stephen King, On Writing
The eighteen on stage rose as one to congratulate the Prime Minister on a most inspiring speech. Another brisk round of fawning commenced. At the end of it, the party official who would officially thank the Prime Minister went smirking and simpering to the microphone … After the stock acknowledgements and hackneyed tributes were exhausted, the speaker pointed dramatically at the sky ... – Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance
Hackneyed comes from hackney – a trotting horse suited for routine riding or driving.
Some say that the latter word comes from Hackney, a borough of London, England, where such horses were raised; others say it comes from Old French. Take your pick. OED tells us that "although the word-group has engaged the most eminent etymologists, its ulterior derivation is still unknown."
November 15, 2009, 20:22
Today's word is the end of a long etymological chain. English got it from French, which created it from an Old French term (which has also come into English, and is much more familiar). That Old French term traces back to Latin, which (probably) got it from Greek, which took it from a city name (so it fits our toponym theme), which city was named for a person (so it's an eponym), whose name in turn comes from a goddess's name (eponym). Does that make today's word an epo-epo-toponym?
The goddess-name is today mostly associated with shoes, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with footwear.
I don't know whether Fair Day is a brilliant example of naïve art, or the pathetic scrawling of a superbly untalented, and delusional, old woman. That's the tension. And that's why it must be part of the show. I can guaranty you it's the one work people will be talking about in the cafés after the vernissage. – Louise Penny, Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novels
vernissage – a private showing held before the opening of an art exhibition
. . .From a French word created from their word vernis, meaning varnish – you can see the connection with art. vernis is from the city of Berenike (modern Benghazi, Libra), active in the early use of (and trade in?) varnish. . . .Berenike was founded when the local princess, the king's daughter, married Pharaoh Ptolemy III of Egypt. A nearby major city was relocated to the new and better location, and was re-named after the new bride, whose Greek name was Berenike. (Today she's usually called by the modern form, Queen Bernice II of Egypt. A scurrilous tidbit: This was her second marriage. Her marriage to husband #1 had "terminated shortly thereafter by his murder when he was caught in flagrante delictu with her mother.") . . .The name Berenike means "to bring victory". Nike was the Greek goddess of victory – it wasn't always a brand of shoe!This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,