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Once again, we'll take our theme from the divine lady of letters.

superannuated – 1. ineffective, or sent out to pasture, because of old age. 2. outmoded; obsolete.
    I have known a great deal of the trouble of annuities; for my mother was clogged with the payment of three to old superannuated servants by my father's will, and it is amazing how disagreeable she found it.
    – Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, ch. 2

    The unreliability of the superannuated helicopters has become a byword in Canada and they should have been replaced years ago.
    – Janes, Canada struggles to define military role, Feb. 21, 2005

    A nap, my friend, is a brief period of sleep which overtakes superannuated persons when they endeavor to entertain unwelcome visitors or to listen to scientific lectures.
    – George Bernard Shaw
 
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"Ineffective, outmoded, obsolete, sent out to pasture."

UK term "superannuation fund" carries a sadder, more worn-out feel than the comparable US terms "pension" or "retired."

That is unfortunate, given the Roman wisdom: "Ad triarios redisse."


RJA
 
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Today, I will end with two questions, seeking reader input.

sedulous – showing dedication and diligence. (noun: sedulity)
(negative connotation? see questions below)
    … nothing would have induced Fanny voluntarily to mention [Edward's] his name before [Elinor]; because she believed them still so very much attached to each other, that they could not be too sedulously divided in word and deed on every occasion.
    - Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, ch. 34

    With all of our sedulous care in training supple young minds, I wonder if much of College training doesn't ossify the brain rather than flex it to its fullest potential.
    - Arlen Collier National Forum, Fall 1996

    America's educated classes in general being notorious worldwide for their sedulous conformity to whatever norm comes into fashion.
    - Richard Grenier, Insight on the News, July 3, 1995
Bonus words:
ossify
(trans. or intrans.) – to make into bone; hence, to cease developing, and become rigidly set in in conventional patterns
assiduous – working with constant, persistent attention; unremitting

Questions; can readers help?
1) To me the word sedulous carries a strong negative sense, as quoted above, but I can't put my finger on it. Help!
2) What's the difference between sedulous and assiduous?
. . .Ms. Dot Wordsworth (apt name!) asks that question in The Spectator and, admitting that she cannot give an answer, enjoyably tells of the words' interesting histories.
 
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Well, "sedulous" screams "seditious" to the ear.

Not a bad thing I suppose, if you are in diehard opposition.


RJA
 
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quote:
sedulous


From http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?l=s&p=11:

1540, from L. sedulus "attentive, painstaking," probably from sedulo (adv.) "sincerely, diligently," from sedolo "without deception or guile," from se- "without, apart" (see secret) + dolo, ablative of dolus "deception, guile," cognate with Gk. dolos.


RJA
 
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Whereas "assiduous"

1538, from L. assiduus "busy, incessant, continual, constant," from assidere "to sit down to," thus "constantly occupied" at one's work (see assess). The word acquired a taint of "servility" in 18c. (op. cit.)

SO the contrast is between "guileless dutifulness" and somewhat less noble "beavering away."


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>strong negative sense

I don't entirely agree; sedulous merely adds a more persistent shading, which is of itself neutral. Having said that, persistance is not always a good thing! : )
 
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I agree with tsuwm; I certainly wouldn't see a negative connotation in sedulous. In fact, if forced to choose between negative or positive, I'd say it has a positive connotation.


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.
 
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Oh yeah, Arnie?

Then what about the Alien and Sedulous Act of 1798? http://earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/milestones/sedition/

Or the US Sedulous Act of 1918?
http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/1918/usspy.html


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puppyism – extreme meanness, affectation, conceit, or impudence

On the torture of waiting in line behind a slow, fussy customer:
    He was giving orders for a toothpick–case for himself, and till its size, shape, and ornaments were determined, all of which, after examining and debating for a quarter of an hour over every toothpick–case in the shop, were finally arranged by his own inventive fancy, he had no leisure to bestow any other attention on the two ladies … Marianne was spared from the troublesome feelings of contempt and resentment, … on the puppyism of his manner in deciding on all the different horrors of the different toothpick–cases presented to his inspection, by remaining unconscious of it all …
    . . . .At last the affair was decided. The ivory, the gold, and the pearls, all received their appointment, and the gentleman having named the last day on which his existence could be continued without the possession of the toothpick–case, drew on his gloves with leisurely care …
    - Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, ch. 33

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self-consequence – self-importance; an exaggerated estimate of one's own importance
    Lydia was a stout, well-grown girl of fifteen, with a fine complexion and good-humoured countenance; a favourite with her mother, whose affection had brought her into public at an early age. She had high animal spirits, and a sort of natural self-consequence, which the attention of the officers … had increased into assurance.
    – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, ch. 9
 
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As you may have noticed, our Austen quotes this week feature her deft skewering of her characters' foibles.

importunate – pesteringly urgent and overly pressing in request (as a pushy beggar)
[importune – to harass with persistent requests; (also; to offer one’s services as a prostitute)]
    … they were making themselves agreeable to Lady Middleton. With her children they were in continual raptures, extolling their beauty, courting their notice, and humouring their whims; and such of their time as could be spared from the importunate demands which this politeness made on it, was spent in admiration of whatever her ladyship was doing.
    – Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, ch. 21

Follow up: Joe, a reader, comments on the word sedulous. He notes that a significant fraction of its Google hits also include the word 'devil', and he states, "I think that sedulous is often linked to the Devil/Satan, in the notion that evil is always working to triumph. I think from there it is linked by its similarity to seduction (a word that has some negative connotations as well). I remember that I thought it meant the movement of a snake for the longest time."

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Today's word seems to be Jane Austen's own coinage. Her word would be very useful, but almost no one has used it (except in a different sense, a movement in poetry and architecture), so I must provide a definition.

imaginist – one who lives in a world created by his or her active imagination
    ... a fine young man and a lovely young woman thrown together in such a way, could hardly fail of suggesting certain ideas to the coldest heart and the steadiest brain. So Emma thought, at least. Could a linguist, could a grammarian, could even a mathematician have seen what she did, have witnessed their appearance together, and heard their history of it, without feeling that circumstances had been at work to make them peculiarly interesting to each other?--How much more must an imaginist, like herself, be on fire with speculation and foresight!--especially with such a groundwork of anticipation as her mind had already made.
    – Jane Austen, Emma, ch. 21

    Florida has always bred good writers, but not many write of dragons and centaurs and alternate worlds. Except for Piers Anthony. Decades ago, the millionaire imaginist mixed his love of Florida with a bit of magic and came up with the kingdom of Xanth, a place where dreams are real and non-Xanth citizens (read: you) live in a land called Mundania (read: mundane).
    – Adrienne P. Samuels, Hillsborough County Times, Feb. 9, 2005
 
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Just the omission of Jane Austen's books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it.

Mark Twain
US humorist, novelist, short story author, & wit (1835 - 1910)


RJA
 
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Oops! Sorry for the couple days' delay; we'll catch up. Nice irony in today's quotation.

tremulous - shaking slightly, quivering, as with nervousness, timidity, or excitement
    … he showed himself so intimately acquainted with all the tenderest songs of the one poet, and all the impassioned descriptions of hopeless agony of the other; he repeated, with such tremulous feeling, the various lines which imaged a broken heart, or a mind destroyed by wretchedness, … that she ventured … to say, that she thought it was the misfortune of poetry to be seldom safely enjoyed by those who enjoyed it completely; and that the strong feelings which alone could estimate it truly were the very feelings which ought to taste it but sparingly.
    – Jane Austen, Persuasion, ch. 11

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