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We'll take action this week. That is to say, we'll look at some verbs.

In yesterday's word aspergillum [a tool for sprinkling holy water] we saw a root that means 'to sprinkle'. That same root gives us today's word, which has both literal and figurative senses of sprinkling.

asperse1. to sprinkle 2. to spread false or damaging charges or insinuations against [more familiar is to cast aspersions]
    Most of them have been accurate. Others have been lightly aspersed … with errors. One or two have been more seriously blemished.
    – Guardian Unlimited, Feb. 5, 2007

    They curse, asperse, deprecate and detract but they will not utter the words that would make matters clear …
    – St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Feb. 29, 1996

    International heritage disputes are private feuds writ large. Rivals contesting sovereign icons resemble siblings squabbling over parental bequests. Europe asperses Africa as incapable of husbanding the treasures it lost to imperial conquest; Third World states outlaw Western heritage holdings as illegal or ill-gotten.
    – John R. Gillis, Commemorations
 
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bloviate – to speak or write verbosely and windily
[This word is almost entirely restricted to the United States. (Quinion)]
Is it a slightly different use in the last quote, for 'putting one's foot in one's mouth'?
    … each self-declared candidate is given time to bloviate among other serious candidates …
    – Toledo Blade, Jan. 24, 2007

    The blogosphere allows people who previously had to interact with other people to bloviate anonymously.
    – Newsday, Feb. 11, 2007

    Biden, who admits he has a tendency to bloviate, has made indelicate remarks before.
    – MSNBC, Sen. Biden apologizes for remarks on Obama, Jan. 31, 2007
 
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to racket – to make or move with a loud distressing noise (also, to lead an active social life)
    Get out! … Take your family and run! Now! The renegade slave leader Nat Turner was coming with a band of vengeful slaves, rampaging from farm to farm, killing white men, women and children. George Henry Thomas, 15, piled into a carriage with his mother and sisters and racketed along dirt roads into the darkness.
    – Smithsonian Magazine, March 2007, recording 1831 events in the life of Civil War General George H. Thomas
 
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quote:
aspergillum [a tool for sprinkling holy water]

An aspergillum is a perforated ball on a stick (usually metal) that is dipped into the holy water. The holes in the ball take up the water and then the priest shakes the water over the congregation.
Aspergillus is a fungus such as the common bread mold. When you look at it under a microscope (or possibly with a hand lens) you can see long "sticks" with a fuzzy ball at the ends, resembling an aspergillum.
 
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scud – to move fast in a straight line because or as if driven by the wind (noun, literary: clouds or spray driven fast by the wind)
    The participants stood silent and motionless as dark clouds scudded overhead and ocean waves pounded the beach motionless below and behind the sidewalk where they stood.
    – North County Times, CA, Feb. 19, 2007
 
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insidiate – to lie in ambush (for); to plot (against)

A very rare word but, in my judgment, a very useful one. OED lists it as "obsolete," but here's a recent example.
    Underminers are saboteurs of the moment; they make statements like "That's a lovely dress. Lose five pounds and it will fit perfectly." … They lie in ambush to spring forward with negativity precisely when you most need to feel confident. They insidiate, pounce, and level your good feelings about yourself at crucial moments. And they justify these underminings with statements like, "I'm telling you this for your own good," or, "I'm entitled to my opinion."
    – Michelle Beaudry, The Slam Club: How to Stop Miserable People from Making You Miserable (2001)
 
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thrum – to make a continuous rhythmic humming sound [with the suggestion of surpressed power about to break fourth] (noun: the sound itself)
[The dictionaries have differing or further definitions. But what I've written seems to match actual usage.]

Authors of romance novels seem to love this word, as in our last pair of quotes.
    And then at last the train thrummed to life and we slid regally out of Sydney Central. We were on our way.
    – Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country

    A waterfall thrummed in the distance.
    – Nick Nolan, Strings Attached

    ... he kissed her passionately while she stroked him. Her body thrummed with heat …
    – Sherrilyn Kenyon, Night Play

    … the denim tightened over his hips. A pulse thrummed in her throat.
    – Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Heaven, Texas

A reader notes: I once ran across an excellent definition that helped me remember this term … . It was described as a "throbbing hum", which was not only somewhat mnemonic, but (by the same dubious source) the combiniation of the terms was purportedly the origin of the term. True or not, it's helped me keep the idea of its meaning in mind.

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Don Quixote explains today's term and its place and importance in the language. Wink
    . . ."Be careful, Sancho, not to chew on both sides of your mouth at once, and do not on any account eruct in company."
    . . ."Eructing" quoth Sancho, "I don't know what you mean by that."
    . . ."To eruct," said Don Quixote, "means to belch, but since this is one of the most beastly words in the Castilian language, though a most significant one, polite people, instead of saying 'belch', make use of the word 'eruct', which comes from Latin, and instead of 'belchings' they say 'eructations'. And though some do not understand these terms, it does not much matter; for in time use and custom will make their meanings familiar to all, and it is by such means that languages are enriched."
    – Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (Signet Classics edition)
eruct – to belch (literally, or metaphorically, as to eject in large quantities)
    … slogans are eructed by politicians without a second thought …
    – Europe Intelligence Wire, Dec. 16, 2002

    When the Avalanche [hockey team] should have erupted, it eructed.
    –Denver Post, June 3, 2001

    … the SUVs and trucks, the coal-fired power plants, the deregulated industries, all eructing tons of carbon dioxide into the air …
    – OnEarth, June 22, 2005
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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I believe this relates to Archie Bunker's earliest relative, Pithecanthropus Eructus
 
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I was at a meeting last week, and one of the people there said a new buzzword in academia is incentivize. She said she's heard it a million times recently. Have others? I haven't ever heard it.
 
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It's common enough here - though it would usually be spelt with an "ise" ending.


Richard English
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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I've heard it from pseudo-academics and government policy wanks -er, wonks.
 
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