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jpin commented on the list random--15
from The Idiot Intro
mired in the sloth of the material and quotidian
ecstatic intuition of supernatural plenitude
harbinger of madenss
penumbra that illuminates his character
docile acceptance of the tawdriest social prejudices
a pawn in this sordid game of social chess
modulations and nuances of egoism
prideful arrogance and hauteur of her youthful beauty
she rises to a paroxysm of bitter self-hatred
September 13, 2010
jpin commented on the list how-high
When you reach the zenith, you’re at the top, the pinnacle, the summit, the peak. "Zenith” developed from Arabic terms meaning "the way over one’s head," and then traveled through Old Spanish, Medieval Latin, and Middle French before arriving in English. As long ago as the 1300s, English speakers used "zenith" to name the highest point in the celestial heavens, directly overhead. By the 1600s, "zenith" was being used for other high points as well. As in our example sentence, "zenith" is often contrasted with "nadir." In celestial contexts, the nadir is the point that is vertically downward from the observer (imagine a line going through the earth from the observer's feet and out the other side into the sky). Figuratively, "nadir" simply means "the lowest point."
jpin commented on the list words-from-greek-history-and-philosophy
Sybaris was a Greek colony in southern Italy famed for its wealth and luxurious living.
The colony of Soli was the last outpost of Greek civilization, where the inhabitants developed such a barbarous dialect that the name of the town became proverbial for grammatical mistakes. By extension, solecism has come to mean social error as well as incorrectness of speech.
A philippic is a fiery, damning speech, or tirade, delivered to condemn a particular political actor. The term originates with Demosthenes, who delivered several attacks on Philip II of Macedon in the 4th century BC in attempt to prevent him from gaining control of all Greece.
To prevent an individual from demagoguery, Athens held, on occasion, an election which each voter inscribed on a broken piece of pottery, called an ostrakon, the name of the man whom he considered the most dangerous to the state. The person with the greatest number of votes was sent to exile for ten years.
Laconia was a region of Greece dominated by Sparta, a city of perfectly disciplined warriors.
To cut the Gordian knot is to solve a difficult problem by direct and drastic means.
According to legend, Phrygian king Gordias tied an extremely intricate knot, whereby a prophecy arose that whoever untied it would rule Asia. Later, Alexander the Great, unable to untie the knot, cut it instead with his sword.
Epicurus was the founder of a Greek school of philosophy which held that the supreme goal of life should be pleasure
In the 7th century B.C. Draco codified and systemized Athenian law so that even minor offenses were punishable by death.
"You are aware that my father - once reckoned a Croesus of wealth - became bankrupt a short time previous to his death." - Charlotte Bronte
Croesus, like Midas, was a very wealthy king of Asia Minor. In an age of barter, Croesus' kingdom had been one of the first nations to mint coins of precious metal; it had, so to speak, invented money. Later, his kingdom was conquered by the Persians.
"We had in this region, twenty years ago, among our educated men, a sort of Arcadian fanaticism, a passionate desire to go upon the land and unite farming to intellectual persuits." - Emerson
The region of Greece known in classical times as Arcadia is quite mountainous. It was therefore rather inaccessible and so was well known for its peaceful, rustic way of life.
jpin commented on the word Arcadian
jpin commented on the word Sisyphean
From m-w.com word of the day:
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king who annoyed the gods with his trickery. As a consequence, he was condemned for eternity to roll a huge rock up a long, steep hill in the underworld, only to watch it roll back down. The story of Sisyphus is often told in conjunction with that of Tantalus, who was condemned to stand beneath fruit-laden boughs, up to his chin in water. Whenever he bent his head to drink, the water receded, and whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches moved beyond his grasp. Thus to "tantalize" is to tease or torment by offering something desirable but keeping it out of reach -- and something "Sisyphean" (or "Sisyphian," pronounced \sih-SIFF-ee-un\) demands unending, thankless, and ultimately unsuccessful efforts.
jpin commented on the list debacle
Middle English paroxism, from Medieval Latin paroxysmus, from Greek paroxysmos, from paroxynein to stimulate, from para- + oxynein to provoke, from oxys sharp
para-, beside, disordered
"Debacle" comes from the French noun "débâcle," which comes from the verb "débâcler," meaning "to clear," "to unbolt," or "to unbar." That verb is from Middle French "desbacler," which joined the prefix "des-" (equivalent to our "de-," meaning "to do the opposite of") with the verb "bacler" ("to block"). In its original uses, "debacle" meant a breaking up of ice, or the rush of ice or water that follows such an occurrence. Eventually, "debacle" was used also to mean "a violent, destructive flood." Naturally, such uses led to meanings such as "a breaking up," "collapse," and finally "disaster" or "fiasco."
jpin commented on the list crafty
in + GEN (to beget)
In Walden (1854), Henry David Thoreau described foxes crying out "raggedly and demoniacally" as they hunted through the winter forest, and he wrote, "Sometimes one came near to my window, attracted by my light, barked a vulpine curse at me, and then retreated." Thoreau's was far from the first use of "vulpine"; English writers have been applying that adjective to the foxlike or crafty since at least the 15th century, and the Latin parent of our term, "vulpinus" (from the noun "vulpes," meaning "fox"), was around long before that.
jpin commented on the list nonchalance
Don't worry -- be insouciant. Perhaps your mind will rest easier if we explain that English speakers learned "insouciance" from the French in the 1700s (and the adjective "insouciant" has been part of our language since the 1800s). The French word comes from a combination of the negative prefix "in-" and "soucier," meaning "to trouble or disturb." "Soucier" in turn traces to "sollicitus," the Latin word for "anxious." If it seems to you that "sollicitus" looks a lot like some other English words you've seen, you're right. That root also gave us "solicit" (which now means "to entreat" but which was once used to mean "to fill with concern or anxiety"), "solicitude" (meaning "uneasiness of mind"), and "solicitous" ("showing or expressing concern").
From French nonchalant from Old French nonchaloir (“to not be concerned”) from non- (“not”) + chaloir (“to have concern for”), from Latin non 'not' + calere 'to be warm'
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john commented on the user jpin
Hi jpin, totally digging your comments on your 'words from Greek history and philosophy' list.
One absolutely optional suggestion: many of us choose to add word-specific comments to the words themselves (philippic, for instance), rather than lists containing them.
But by all means, do as you prefer. There are no rules -- everything is permitted :-) Welcome to Wordnik!
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