chelster has looked up 23078 words, created 6 lists, listed 370 words, written 113 comments, added 13 tags, and loved 2 words.

Comments by chelster

  • Wiktionary is incorrect. Windigo is the preferred spelling, wendigo the alternative. And the only attested pronunciation, to my knowledge, is WIN-di-goh. — The Orthoepist

    October 24, 2011

  • Whether this word is spelled wendigo or windigo (preferred), the only attested pronunciation in reputable dictionaries is WIN-di-goh, as illustrated by this couplet by Ogden Nash: "The Wendigo, The Wendigo! Its eyes are ice and indigo!" — The Orthoepist

    October 24, 2011

  • I coined this word in 1996 in my book There's a Word for It: A Grandiloquent Guide to Life.

    October 17, 2011

  • Cited in Allan Metcalf's The World in So Many Words (1999): "One recent English word from Samoan is faamafu (1934), the name for a home brew made of potato peels, malt, and sugar."

    October 13, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "complicated paperwork connected with making a complaint."

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It, where it is defined as "courage to express unpopular opinions."

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It, where it is defined as "passion for miracles."

    October 11, 2011

  • The German equivalent of the French (and now English) esprit de l'escalier (literally, "spirit of the staircase"). Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It, where both terms are defined as a "clever remark that comes to mind when it is too late to utter it." Other coinages for this concept include retrotort and stairwit.

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "a so-called improvement that makes things worse."

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "a tune or melody that infects a population rapidly." Literally, "earworm."

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "the space between things."

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "little wholes that make up larger wholes." Rheingold notes: "Basic Gestalt psychology theory is based on the premise that all experience consists of Gestalten -- integrated structures or patterns that must be apprehended as wholes rather than disconnected parts."

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "little wholes that make up larger wholes." Rheingold notes: "basic gestalt psychology theory is based on the premise that all experience consists of Gestalten -- integrated structures or patterns that must be apprehended as wholes rather than disconnected parts."

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "thought-experiment."

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as a "festive frame of mind at the end of the working day." The German version of TGIF.

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "flustered to the point of incompetence"; being in "a temporary state of inexactitude and sloppiness that is elicited by another person's nagging."

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "elementary thoughts of humankind," such as fairy tales and folk wisdom; anything that deals with the primordial themes of life and the collective unconscious.

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "a state of consciousness too ponderous for anything but sleep."

    October 11, 2011

  • Literally, "dragon fodder." Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "peace offerings for wives from guilty husbands." Reingold notes: "At one point it was common in Germany to see men drinking in bars and cafes on Saturday afternoons with their Drachenfutter already bought and wrapped in anticipation of the night ahead."

    October 11, 2011

  • Discussed in Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It (1988), where it is defined as "one who flatters superiors and browbeats subordinates."

    October 11, 2011

  • After Borachio, a drunken follower of Don Juan in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. But the word had already entered English, in the leather wine bottle or bag sense, shortly before Shakespeare appropriated it for his character. — The Orthoepist

    September 13, 2011

  • The preferred pronunciation has two syllables, not three. The word is also spelled daimio. — The Orthoepist

    September 13, 2011

  • The preferred pronunciation has two syllables, not three. The word is also spelled daimyo. — The Orthoepist

    September 13, 2011

  • Speaking learnedly, as an expert on some subject.

    June 24, 2011

  • Cf. "polyphloisboian."

    June 24, 2011

  • OED: That roars loudly; noisy, boisterous.
    1824 Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. 15 675 We leave that‥to critics of a more polyphloisboian note.
    1858 O. W. Holmes Autocrat of Breakfast-table iv, Two men are walking by the polyphlœsbœan ocean.
    1881 Fortn. Rev. No. 179. 560 The unreliable, erratic, polyphloisbean Loewenbruk also put in an appearance.
    1997 D. Albright Quantum Poetics ii. 200 A genuinely polyphloisboian line would have been wholly out of place in this poem.

    June 24, 2011

  • Mass hysteria (blend of Greek "pan," all, "panic," and "anxiety." My coinage (1996).

    June 24, 2011

  • Fear of disorder.

    June 24, 2011

  • Fear of others' opinions.

    June 24, 2011

  • The study of phobias.

    June 24, 2011

  • You're most welcome! And thanks -- happy to oblige. Keep those requests coming.

    June 22, 2011

  • What I've recorded here is, of course, a speculative pronunciation of a nonce-word (which, etymologically speaking, would be better spelled “-hippopo-”). It's heavily dactylic, which I like, but if you can come up with a more mellifluous variant, please record it. — The Orthoepist

    June 21, 2011

  • Obsolete variant of "clodpoll," says Webster 2.

    May 25, 2011

  • "Begaze" is listed in the OED and Webster 2.

    May 25, 2011

  • "'I have never smelled anything like it, with the possible exception of a beached whale,' Twain went on, warming to his subject. 'It was rancid, rank, and malodorous beyond words. It would incite rebellion in a gasometer.'"
    Test of Time by Charles Harrington Elster

    April 26, 2011

  • Also spelled mishegas, meshugaas, mishegaas.

    April 12, 2011

  • Also spelled mishegas, meshugaas, mishegoss.

    April 12, 2011

  • Also spelled mishegas, mishegaas, mishegoss.

    April 12, 2011

  • Also spelled meshugaas, mishegaas, mishegoss.

    April 12, 2011

  • Cf. lorette.

    April 5, 2011

  • Costard, a clown, a character in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost.

    "I am no clownish Costard, prating for your delectation."
    Tooth and Nail: A Novel Approach to the SAT by Charles Harrington Elster and Joseph Elliot (1994)

    April 5, 2011

  • Webster 2 and the OED list loppet as an English dialect term meaning to walk or run clumsily, move with a heavy gait.

    April 5, 2011

  • The oft-heard phrase soup du jour of the day, sometimes seen on menus, is redundant. Of the day is superfluous.

    March 24, 2011

  • The phrase ciabatta bread, broadcast ad nauseam thanks to a nauseating Jack-in-the-Box commercial, is laughably redundant. Ciabatta is bread.

    March 24, 2011

  • Short for spokesperson.

    March 22, 2011

  • "An impecunious idler posing as a gentleman." — Webster's New International Dictionary, second edition (1934).

    March 22, 2011

  • Talking in one's sleep.

    March 17, 2011

  • To toss and turn, or to toss to and fro or back and forth.

    March 17, 2011

  • Come on, Wiktionary: "Alternative spelling of 'asinine,'" my foot! As any writer, editor, copyeditor, proofreader, English teacher, and decent dictionary will tell you, "There is no 'ass' in 'asinine.'" This takes descriptivism to new and asinine heights.

    March 17, 2011

  • According to the writer’s own instructions, the first name rhymes with “redeemer” and the last name should be stressed on the second syllable (-bo-), which may be pronounced as I recorded it or with a long /o/ (as in “no”). — The Orthoepist

    March 16, 2011

  • For the pronunciation, see Mallarmé.

    March 14, 2011

  • Can you give me more detail or context? For example, is this for a title or a brand, or just part of a sentence? Do you want the word to somehow capture a general concept you're discussing?

    March 11, 2011

  • Hi guys, this is Charles Harrington Elster. Nice selection from my book, RitaG! I'm working right now on a companion to Verbal Advantage called Word Workout, which I hope will come out next year (2012).

    FYI, rapprochement is misspelled above (no "a").

    Re my creating lists — it's not in my contract with Wordnik, and I'm too busy recording pronunciations and writing notes, anyway.

    Good words to you!

    March 9, 2011

  • Sorry, I was being a bit facetious. Try sending your query to feedback@wordnik.com.

    February 10, 2011

  • Sorry, but I don't know the answer to that. I don't select or arrange the words of the day; I only record the pronunciations. It may be some sort of technical problem. Perhaps you should contact Wordnik Central.

    Thanks for your kind wishes.

    February 8, 2011

  • The OED defines this word as "the fruit of the rose," a rosehip, with citations dating from 1483.

    January 28, 2011

  • Webster's New International Dictionary, second edition (1934), lists another sense for this word: "n. Usury; v. to lend, get, or increase, at usury."

    January 28, 2011

  • Just as, I suppose, that there's nothing slovenly about saying liberry or nucular if that's what one acquired from one's upbringing. After all, as Merriam-Webster informs us, U.S. presidents and college presidents have pronounced these words that way.

    Pronunciations acquired during one's upbringing (mine was in hardscrabble Queens, New York City) are not de facto standard. You may not agree with it or like it, but my job, as an orthoepist, is to discriminate for those who want to be discriminating speakers.

    January 12, 2011

  • Quasimodo is a long-established holdover, no doubt because it's a name and we tend not to mess with the pronunciation of names (which is good). But loanwords tend to get anglicized (which makes sense), and once they have been it is generally inadvisable to re-adopt the foreign pronunciation (for example, the pretentious GRAH-tis for gratis). Again, KWAH-zee and KWAH-see are acceptable pronunciations, but they are de-anglicizations, which is why I said they have little to recommend them.

    For what it's worth, the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation, which gives British and American pronunciations, lists KWAY-zy and KWAH-zee as British, and KWAH-zee and KWAY-zy as American.

    January 12, 2011

  • As I explain in my Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations, the proper name Quasimodo is an exception. "Because Quasimodo is formed from the first words of the Latin Introit, Quasi modo geniti infantes ("As newborn babes . . ." 1 Pet. 2:2), it is pronounced either like the classical Latin, kwah-si-MOH-doh, or--more often in American speech--like the Italian, kwah-zee-MOH-doh."

    January 12, 2011

  • A postscript to my previous comment: How do you pronounce the word quasar? Most people say KWAY-zahr, or sometimes KWAY-sahr. Interesting, because the word is formed from quasi and stellar.

    January 12, 2011

  • KWAY-zee is unattested, milosrdenstvi, so I'd avoid that variant if I were you.

    Re KWAH-see and KWAH-zee: I didn't mean to imply that there was something wrong or bad about them; they're common and standard pronunciations. But I think it's fair to ask why one would pronounce a Latin loanword that has been English since the mid-17th century in classical Latin or pseudo-Latin when there are two well-established anglicized pronunciations that dictionaries have listed first and orthoepists have preferred for many years.

    I think you will agree, bilby, that it would be strange if we went out of our way to give all our Latin loanwords classical pronunciations. The variants KWAY-zy and KWAY-sy follow the English system of Latin pronunciation, which has long been the standard for anglicizing loanwords. As W. H. P. Phyfe explained it in 18,000 Words Often Mispronounced (1926), "Vowels, when ending accented syllables, have always their long English sounds, as pater (PAY-tur), homo (HOH-moh)."

    I choose to follow this rule with quasi- because there is a great deal of lexical authority for doing so, and because, unlike yarb, I like the sound of it.

    January 11, 2011

  • It's WLAHT-sum.

    January 8, 2011

  • See the spelling "synecthry" for more on this word, which pertains to ants.

    January 8, 2011

  • Spelled synechthry in Webster 2 (1934) and the OED, which calls the spelling synecthry erroneous. The etymology is Greek syn-, together, and echthra, hatred.

    January 8, 2011

  • "Hemi-" and "demi-" should be HEM-ee and DEM-ee. "Quasi" is treated differently because it's a Latin loanword. The /a/ should be long, as in "quake"; the /i/ should be long, as in "sigh"; and the /s/ may be either soft, as in "rose," or hard, as in "case." Older sources generally prefer the hard /s/; most current ones prefer the soft /s/, which is my preference. The classical Latin KWAH-see and the pseudo-Latin KWAH-zee are recognized by dictionaries but have little to recommend them.

    January 7, 2011

  • In cultivated speech, anti-, semi-, and multi- are pronounced like long /e/ in "me," not like long /i/ ("eye"). Orthoepists have endorsed the long /e/ and denounced the long /i/ for a long time.

    January 7, 2011

  • This is a typo for "promontory" (q.v.).

    January 7, 2011

  • After the traditional American and British UNG-gwent, the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English (2003) records a recent British variant, UNG-gyu-wunt, that does not appear in the second edition of the OED (1989). The best that can be said of it is that it's an overpronunciation. The variant UN-jent in Merriam-Webster is preposterous, but M-W is infamous for sanctioning eccentric and stigmatized pronunciations that other dictionaries ignore. — The Orthoepist

    December 7, 2010

  • Planemo is an acronymic rendering of the initialism PMO (planetary mass object). It was coined by Professor Gibor Basri, an astronomer at UC Berkeley. "I think I came up with it in about 2005," Prof. Basri told me. "It appears in my review article in 2006: 'Planetesimals to Brown Dwarfs: What is a Planet,' 2006, Ann. Rev. Earth & Planetary Sci., 34, 193, Basri, Brown." — The Orthoepist

    December 6, 2010

  • I believe firmly that in cultivated speech, with and words beginning with it — withal (with-ALL), withdraw, wither, withhold, within, without, withstand — should be pronounced with the “voiced” th of bathe, lather, and rather, and not with the “voiceless” th of path and bath. One advantage of following this guideline is stronger, clearer speech. The voiced th is resonant; the voiceless th is lispy and weak. This is an avowed pet peeve of mine, and by no means do all authorities agree with me on this punctilio, though many do. — The Orthoepist

    December 1, 2010

  • I prefer -tee- for the second syllable of this word (and others beginning with the prefix anti-), and the evidence of my ears says this has been the dominant pronunciation in cultivated American speech for some time. The variant with short i as in fit (listen to the American Heritage Dictionary’s pronunciation) appears in older and some current dictionaries but is far from prevalent in American speech today. In fact, the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation (2003) says the short i is British and -tee- is American. The variant with a long i in the second syllable (like tie) appears in dictionaries but is an overpronunciation. (“Don’t bother with long i” in anti-, the orthoepist Alfred H. Holt advised in his 1937 guide You Don’t Say. “Just rhyme anti- with panty.”) Also avoid pronouncing the antepenultimate syllable -bi- like be; say it like by. — The Orthoepist

    December 1, 2010

  • In Comfortable Words (1959), Bergen Evans notes that axe for ask “is the old form. . . . The Anglo-Saxon verb was acsian. The modern pronunciation is the result of metathesis — which is a learned way of saying that the s slipped out of place.” Wyclif’s Bible, Evans reminds us, has “axe and it shall be gyven unto you.” Caxton, in 1490, spelled the past tense axyd. And as late as 1806 Noah Webster said he preferred axe. All of which is not to say that pronouncing this word /aks/ is correct, only that the common mispronunciation of “ask” today is vestigial. — The Orthoepist

    November 23, 2010

  • Punctuation: A set of symbols that a writer uses to establish the rhythm of a piece, which an editor then uses to destroy it.

    November 3, 2010

  • "Quasi-conjugal dyad" was one of the many nonce-terms coined in response to the ineptitude of the U.S. Census Bureau's acronym.

    November 3, 2010

  • Wifely tyranny; domination of a husband by a wife. — The Orthoepist

    October 15, 2010

  • Here is the entry for yolk in my Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations, second edition (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006):

    The spelling pronunciation YOHLK, with an audible L, was Noah Webster’s preference in his dictionary of 1828 and the preference of several earlier English authorities. This was undoubtedly due to the variant spelling yelk, pronounced YELK, which Dr. Johnson (1755), Walker (1791), and Smart (1836) favored. Since Worcester (1860), however, the spelling yolk and the pronunciation YOHK have prevailed, while yelk has disappeared and YOHLK has fallen into disfavor.

    According to the often risibly descriptive Merriam-Webster's Collegiate, 11th edition (2003) — which, after YOHK, lists the long-obsolete YELK in good standing — the L-inflected variants YOHLK, YAWLK, YAHLK, and YUHLK survive “in cultivated speech, especially Southern.” Some would laud such a catholic concept of cultivated speech; I find it nothing short of bizarre. Apparently I am joined in this opinion by the five other major current American dictionaries, which politely avert their gaze from all these aberrations and countenance one pronunciation: YOHK.

    — The Orthoepist

    October 1, 2010

  • The open list is ready. At the top of the sidebar to the right, click on "The Request Line."

    September 22, 2010

  • Definition (b) in the OED says, "A woman who keeps a man."

    September 21, 2010

  • "Incorrect pronunciation; mispronunciation: opposed to orthoepy." — Century Dictionary (1914 ed.)

    September 20, 2010

  • Prolagus's pronunciation may be good Italian, but it's not English. The "anglicised/amateur" pronunciation (broo-SKET-uh) is correct. — The Orthoepist

    September 17, 2010

  • The OED has no entry for quomodocunquize, to make money any way you can, but it does have one for quomodocunquizing with a citation from Sir Thomas Urquhart in 1652: "Those quomodocunquizing clusterfists and rapacious varlets." — The Orthoepist

    September 16, 2010

  • Rolig has the story of Apelles and the shoemaker right but is a bit off on the proverb. In his entertaining book Amo, Amas, Amat, and More, Eugene Ehrlich gives it as ne supra crepidam sutor iudicaret, literally "the cobbler should not judge above the sandal," or more poetically, "Cobbler, stick to your last." — The Orthoepist

    September 16, 2010

  • That's a good idea. We're working on it. Stay tuned.

    September 16, 2010

  • From Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 22nd edition (1972): "a morbid tendency to pun, make poor jokes, and tell pointless stories, while being oneself inordinately entertained thereby." The word comes from the German witzeln, to affect wit, and sucht, mania. — The Orthoepist

    September 16, 2010

  • Just fyi, this word does not denote adultery. It is defined simply as "fornication" in the Century, Webster 2, and the OED. So as long as you're not married to your dancing partner, it's houghmagandy.

    September 9, 2010

  • More commonly spelled shinny (q.v.).

    September 6, 2010

  • This word is more commonly, and properly, spelled klaxon after the company that manufactured the horn and trademarked the name.

    September 6, 2010

  • I coined this word in 1996 (in my book There's a Word for It) from the Greek kakos, bad, the Latin spectare, to look at carefully, and -mania, compulsion. It denotes the inability to refrain from staring at something repugnant, or the compulsion to examine something disgusting.

    August 17, 2010

  • "One minor curiosity of the project was the discovery, against all expectations, that a few members of the Oxford English Dictionary staff had no stomach for the crudities of sexual and scatalogical vocabulary. I had assumed from the beginning that Homo lexicographicus was a chalcenterous species of mankind, that is, a person with bowels of brass." -- Robert Burchfield, Unlocking the English Language.

    August 17, 2010

  • G. Carruth and E. Ehrlich's Harper Book of American Quotations (1988) shows that this word was coined by H. L. Mencken in Minority Report, published in 1956 (not 1957, as Wiktionary claims).

    August 17, 2010

  • Definition from There's a Word for It by Charles Harrington Elster: "A method of reading character (or assessing experience) by examining the heels and soles of shoes."

    Citation in the Century Dictionary (1914 ed.), from Science, VIII, 185: "La Graphologie, a French journal, describes a new method of reading character, known as 'scarpology.' It consists in a study of the heels and soles of shoes."

    August 17, 2010

  • Also spelled jackeroo, though jackaroo seems preferable given the etymology: Jack + kangaroo.

    July 19, 2010

  • Ideally, dour should rhyme with poor. The /ou/ may also be pronounced like the /oo/ in look. These are the traditional pronunciations. But in the past 60 years a spelling pronunciation rhyming with sour has risen to prominence, and despite all orthoepic admonitions that may well be the future for this word.

    July 13, 2010

  • This word is more elegantly, and helpfully, printed with a dieresis (dy-ER-uh-sis: two dots, like an umlaut) over the first /e/ to show that it is pronounced separately from the preceding /o/. — The Orthoepist

    July 2, 2010

  • N.B. "Niffy," malodorous, is distinguished from "niffy-naffy," trifling ("He made no niffy naffy work" in the examples), which Webster's New International, second edition (1934), labels Scottish and dialectal English.

    June 30, 2010

  • Anyone wishing to know more about this word should see the historical note in the eighth edition of Black's Law Dictionary.

    June 22, 2010

  • Apparently found only in the Douay Version, Isa. 29:17.

    June 22, 2010

  • "His face is all bubukles and whelks, and knobs, and flames o' fire." -- Shakespeare, Henry V, iii, 6, 94-5.

    June 22, 2010

  • Thanks for the kind words. I've got a new book coming out next month. The Accidents of Style: Good Advice on How Not to Write Badly is a crash course in careful usage.

    June 21, 2010

  • Curiouser and curiouser, ruzuzu. Maybe Bryan changed his mind because of Am. usage patterns favoring -or. But you'll have to take it up with the man himself at info@lawprose.org. For my money, since this is a literary and not a strictly legal word, the regular agent suffix -er is preferable to the legal -or (which tends to be annoyingly overpronounced like "or" rather than the normal "ur" we hear in "actor" and "sailor").

    June 19, 2010

  • Black's Law Dictionary, eighth edition, which Garner edited, gives contemnor as the headword and contemner as the alternative spelling. I'll record pronunciations for lessee, condemnor, and et seq. today.

    June 18, 2010

  • Many thanks, ruzuzu. If you (by which I mean both ruzuzu and y'all out there) have any pronunciation or usage questions, I'm here to help. And please let me know if you want me to record pronunciations for any words.

    June 18, 2010

  • A toothache. From the Greek combining forms odont(o)-, tooth, and -algia, pain.

    June 16, 2010

  • Please see my note on the pronunciation page for "Caribbean" (be sure to type a capital C). And for more detailed information, read the entry on this word in my Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations (p. 78-9).

    Here's the URL: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/061842315X/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?ie=UTF8&cloe_id=c9041bf2-3839-4107-9024-30403e5ea71a&attrMsgId=LPWidget-A1&pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0395893380&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1Z6ZTYZ8BZHHES0W7QQ9#reader_061842315X

    — The Orthoepist

    June 16, 2010

  • N.B. to those speakers who say or were taught to say ek-ZEE-muh (or eg-), with stress on the second syllable and a long e as in see. This variant has been heard since the 19th century, but there is no etymological basis for it, medical references from the 19th century to the present have ignored it, and numerous authorities have frowned upon it: e.g., “The pronunciation ek-ZEE-muh, though common, is contrary to the Latin accentuation” — Webster’s New International Dictionary, 1909; “eczema . . . is pronounced EK-ze-ma, not eg-ZEE-ma,” John B. Opdycke, Don’t Say It, 1939. Although you will find it listed in current dictionaries, second-syllable stress remains distinctly second-class, and modern authorities do not countenance it.

    N.B. to cbbudman, regarding the line you saw over the medial e in "earlier dictionaries": I'm guessing that you consulted one or more of the G. & C. Merriam dictionaries, which used a horizontal line with a short vertical stem to indicate the lightened sound of e in words like event and serene. It looks a bit like a macron (the long-e mark) but it isn't.

    — The Orthoepist

    June 16, 2010

  • To learn more about this wonderful word, I invite you to read my "On Language" guest column about it at http://members2.authorsguild.net/chelster/_b_things_are_against_us__b__34780.htm.
    — The Orthoepist

    June 15, 2010

  • See the less-used singular, "cognoscente," for a definition.

    June 14, 2010

  • WUR-i-koo is the pronunciation preferred by Webster's New International, second edition (1934). WUH-ri-kow is the pronunciation preferred by the Oxford English Dictionary. — The Orthoepist

    June 9, 2010

  • The Century Dictionary (1914) lists only pahl-ee-or-SEE-tiks. Webster's New International, second edition (1934), lists pahl-ee-or-SET-iks first, followed by -SEE-. — The Orthoepist

    June 9, 2010

  • Holm should sound like home. Inserting an L-sound in this word and pronouncing it as spelled is not traditional and not a good idea; most authorities do not recognize this variant. — The Orthoepist

    June 9, 2010

  • Sweven may mean sleep or a vision seen in sleep, a dream. — The Orthoepist

    June 9, 2010

  • Remember, there is no noun in pronunciation. Don't say pronounciation, as many regrettably do. Take care to say pronunciation. — The Orthoepist

    June 9, 2010

  • The pseudo-French pronunciation recorded by john is unattested. In the sense of "tree branches" ramage dates back in English to the mid-1600s, and its pronunciation has long been anglicized. Ramage should rhyme with damage. — The Orthoepist

    June 9, 2010

  • "All right, here's one I'll bet you can use: philodox.
    "Fill a what?"
    "Philodox. From the Greek philo-, loving, and doxa, opinion. It means someone in love with their own opinions, a person who's dogmatic, who makes categorical assertions.
    "Now there's a useful word!" Twain exclaimed. "I'll have to add it to my characterization of that pontificating rascal Bret Harte."
    — from Test of Time, by Charles Harrington Elster

    June 9, 2010

  • "These was all nice pictures, I reckon, but I didn't somehow seem to take to them, because if ever I was down a little, they always give me the fan-tods." -- Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884. The earliest citation in the Dictionary of American Regional English is from 1876.

    June 9, 2010

  • "Slanticular" is not an attested spelling in the Oxford English Dictionary, which shows that this word has most often been spelled "slantindicular."
    -- The Orthoepist

    June 8, 2010

  • Don't say NOO-kyuh-lur (as "uselessness" did), as if the word were spelled "nucular." This variant has long been "a much-derided aberration" (Richard Lederer), and current dictionaries, which rarely stigmatize pronunciations, call it "unacceptable" and "incorrect." Take care to say "nuclear" like "new" + "clear": N(Y)OO-klee-ur. -- The Orthoepist

    June 7, 2010

  • make that "assassinate"

    May 26, 2010

  • "Diffuse" and "defuse" are not interchangeable, and the former is now often misused for the latter. The following is from my book THE ACCIDENTS OF STYLE, which will be published by St. Martin's Press this August:

    If your intended meaning is “to spread out, scatter, or disseminate,” use diffuse. Lamps diffuse light. The sun diffuses fog. And kindergarten teachers diffuse rudimentary knowledge while their sniffling, sneezing pupils diffuse germs.

    If your intended meaning is “to make something less harmful or troublesome,” use defuse. You can defuse a bomb, render it harmless, or defuse a ticklish or potentially explosive situation.

    May 19, 2010

  • "Maritorious," formed from Latin "maritus," husband, is indeed a word (albeit obsolete); it means excessively fond of one's husband. It's listed in the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary and the second edition of Webster's New International Dictionary.

    April 21, 2010

  • There is no mouse in mausoleum. Don't say MOUSE-uh-lee-um.

    April 10, 2010

  • Stpeter is correct (see comment below photo).

    April 10, 2010

Comments for chelster

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  • Psst.... I think you're missing an HTML tag at the end of Gestalten.

    March 1, 2012

  • Can you give me more detail or context? For example, is this for a title or a brand, or just part of a sentence? Do you want the word to somehow capture a general concept you're discussing?

    March 11, 2011

  • I'm looking for a catchy word that is synonymous with track or monitor or something that leaves a trail. Any ideas? It can also be in a different language or an invented word.

    March 11, 2011

  • thank you, just the same, my friend; the situation worked itself out. i am finally seeing "Examples". :-D

    take good care...

    February 11, 2011

  • Sorry, I was being a bit facetious. Try sending your query to feedback@wordnik.com.

    February 10, 2011

  • thank you for your prompt reply, Mr. Elster.

    pardon my ignorance, but what from which 'link' do i access "Wordnik Central"?

    February 10, 2011

  • Sorry, but I don't know the answer to that. I don't select or arrange the words of the day; I only record the pronunciations. It may be some sort of technical problem. Perhaps you should contact Wordnik Central.

    Thanks for your kind wishes.

    February 8, 2011

  • hello Mr. Elster. i do hope that this message finds you and your loved ones in good health and spirits.

    i am writing to express a bit of concern that, lately, your Words Of The Day have not been including the Examples that usually ensue. What is the reason for this?

    I await your reply.

    February 8, 2011

  • hi

    December 10, 2010

  • Hecko. Until I read your latest blog post this morning, I thought the pronunciation that you counsel us on was the accent accepted and common among this class of “educated speakers”, which, you say, is much too broad. Since I don’t have a natural accent in English (I’m German), I try to carefully assemble one for myself that best reflects my social affiliations. My visceral preferences then either adapt or, in some cases, are good guides to cerebral choices already. With most words, for example, I prefer a low back merged pronunciation. The unmerged variants are no less euphonious, but often (without the /t/ ;-)) feel incongruous when I use them. (And I have no problem distinguishing /ɑ/ and /ɔ/, though /ɒ/ is a bit tricky still.) Conversely, I have a fondness for the occasional word-final pre-vocalic t-glottalization, and yet find that I rarely use it, probably because, while I’m in the right generation for it, I’m of the wrong gender. (The paper I linked to on t-glottalization says that “younger female speakers were most likely to use glottal stops”.)

    Most recordings in online dictionaries purport to reflect General American pronunciation, an accent spoken in a smallish, rather northern region, and yet usually evince the whine–wine split (as you do with whinyard) that only 17% of Americans preserve any trace of (according to The Atlas of North American English), and that, moreover, is most frequent in regions along the south and east of the States. Luckily, I’m now aware of those statistics, but there are surely many more such intricacies that I’m completely ignorant of. I imagine a native speaker would have found it distinctly odd, if not pretentious, to hear someone in his twenties talk of a while loop in the voice of a hoary southerner. Hence, I’m very wary of the pronunciation samples in dictionaries, a worry that would be unnecessary if I knew of which region, social class, age group, gender, etc. they are representative. In the cases of the Heritage and the Random House dictionary I see no way of asking the orthoepists for such meta data, but from your blog posts it seems evident to me that you have very specific, well-trained, and deliberately chosen preferences in those regards, which you could surely explicate here, or in a future blog post.

    Thanks!

    September 22, 2010

  • The open list is ready. At the top of the sidebar to the right, click on "The Request Line."

    September 22, 2010

  • That's a good idea. We're working on it. Stay tuned.

    September 16, 2010

  • I also own a couple of your books. Kindly start an open list where we can add pronunciation requests.

    September 15, 2010

  • Thank you, chelster.

    July 13, 2010

  • Ideally, dour should rhyme with poor. The /ou/ may also be pronounced like the /oo/ in look. These are the traditional pronunciations. But in the past 60 years a spelling pronunciation rhyming with sour has risen to prominence, and despite all orthoepic admonitions that may well be the future for this word.

    July 13, 2010

  • Any thoughts on the pronunciation for dour?

    July 9, 2010

  • Thanks for the kind words. I've got a new book coming out next month. The Accidents of Style: Good Advice on How Not to Write Badly is a crash course in careful usage.

    June 21, 2010

  • Just stopping by to say "Hi". I own two of your books and they are high on my list of favorites:
    David's list of word books

    Welcome to Wordnik!

    June 20, 2010

  • and, html fail. Sorry. (Still can't edit my own comments...)

    June 19, 2010

  • Wait wait wait! I just realized, you're the same rubber as put this out. I loved that! I've been going back to it for years and feeling guilty every time!

    June 19, 2010

  • Wow. You're fun!

    *flounces off to add inferier contemner bettor to the new sailormoon attacks list created by Mr. Prolagus*

    June 19, 2010

  • Curiouser and curiouser, ruzuzu. Maybe Bryan changed his mind because of Am. usage patterns favoring -or. But you'll have to take it up with the man himself at info@lawprose.org. For my money, since this is a literary and not a strictly legal word, the regular agent suffix -er is preferable to the legal -or (which tends to be annoyingly overpronounced like "or" rather than the normal "ur" we hear in "actor" and "sailor").

    June 19, 2010

  • Although it looks bettor.

    June 19, 2010

  • I think contemner is inferier.

    June 19, 2010

  • That's... that's fabulous! Thank you!

    With regard to this contemner/contemnor thing, the seventh edition had it the other way around - with contemnor as the alternative spelling - although the ninth edition seems to agree with the eighth. I had started wondering about it because the second edition of Garner's A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage had the following under "contemner;contemnor": "Most dictionaries list the spelling in -er as the predominant one; 19th-century BrE and AmE overwhelmingly preferred that spelling, which is still the better one. The -or spelling, now common in the U.S., remains the inferior."

    Uh... anyway... thank you, thank you! :-)

    June 18, 2010

  • Black's Law Dictionary, eighth edition, which Garner edited, gives contemnor as the headword and contemner as the alternative spelling. I'll record pronunciations for lessee, condemnor, and et seq. today.

    June 18, 2010

  • Ooh! Ooh! Should I use contemner or contemnor? (I've heard Bryan A. Garner thinks contemnor is "inferior.") Oh, and how would you pronounce lessee, condemner, and et seq.?

    June 18, 2010

  • Many thanks, ruzuzu. If you (by which I mean both ruzuzu and y'all out there) have any pronunciation or usage questions, I'm here to help. And please let me know if you want me to record pronunciations for any words.

    June 18, 2010

  • Welcome to Wordnik!

    June 18, 2010