“Wiktionary . . .
n. countable, dated A well-dressed man
n. countable A bonus or other remuneration, . . . .
n. countable, colloquial, Jamaica a hand-rolled marijuana cigarette; a joint . . .
v. to reward (a salesperson) with a spiff.”
Although some, seeking pomposity, substitute fortuitous for fortunate, the words are not synonymous. Fortunate means “lucky.” Fortuitous means “by chance,” “by accident.” Something that is fortuitous can also be fortunate, but unless it happened by chance, fortunate is the correct word.
– Rene J. Cappon, The Associated Press Guide to Writing, Peterson’s, 2000
That’s the usage problem to which the AHD entries refer. Until recently, “fortuitous” meant “accidental”, not “lucky”. (See the CDC definition.) In the twentieth century some English speakers began to conflate fortuitous with fortunate and using it to mean (as you say) serendipitous. Some audiences regard this usage as confused or pompous, and a good dictionary won’t include it without a warning.
I stumbled across a video of David Wolman promoting his book Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling at Google (from March 26, 2009): “Righting the Mother Tongue tells the cockamamie story of English spelling. When did ghost acquire its silent 'h'? Will cyberspace kill the one in rhubarb? And was it really rocket scientists who invented spell-check?”
I don’t know if the book is any good, but I think it likely someone here will enjoy the talk.
I learned this morning that my employer has a new service which is spelled with a lowercase first letter, two medial capitals, and an inexplicable exclamation mark, like so: "xyXxxXxxlxk!",* even if it appears in the middle of a sentence. (I don't know what it looks like at the beginning of a sentence; I doubt anyone who works here is brave enough to try it.)
* That's not the real name, but the pattern of risers and descenders is approximately right.
“Your grandfather would as soon have spit In his wife’s best bonnet as in that galluptiouscuspadore, and your grandmother would have got a glass case made for that coal vase and kept It on exhibition in the best parlor.”
The phrase galluptious cuspadore in which it appears† is causing me to swoon. As far as I can tell it hasn't been repeated in the century-and-a-third since.‡ Someone please use this phrase as a name for your book or your band or your child§ immediately. Thank you.
* The spelling “goluptious” is more common, with “about 848 results”, as opposed to 143 for “galluptious”.
† And on April 1st, no less.
‡ At this time, the phrase is a bona fide Googlewhack, although of course that will no longer be true soon after I post this.
§ Or, I suppose, your spittoon.
It’s a right (closing) single-quote (used, as hernesheir said, as an apostrophe) encoded in UTF-8 and subsequently mangled by Microsoft Windows, which obtusely uses its own character encodings in place of Unicode.
I agree, rolig, that omnipotence implies (at least the capacity for) omniscience. The converse, however, is false. (Consider Cassandra.) Ruzuzu's statement, parsed as claiming the two ain't equivalent, therefore still stands.
This is a 256-by-256-pixel 16-bitgrayscale representation of a Hilbert curve. The relative luminance of each pixel indicates its preimage in 0, 1: the image of 0 is the black pixel in the lower-left corner (0, 0); the image of 1 is the white pixel in the lower-right corner (1, 0).
This is a good one. It’s a fine enough name for a province (especially one that isn’t autonomous); that they would spell it in all caps is the icing on the cake. (The definition belongs under Colonial Mexico, by the way.)
(This sudden riot of Hawaiiousness is very iroquoisy. I just made a joke about Hawaii—I actually reconsidred and changed it to “Polynesian”, but now I know better—based soley on a random stupid metapun. Then I saw the “Hawaii Tours” spam, and now this. Is there a luau* going on about which no one told me?
* Also, I’ve had an urgent need to use the word luau all evening. Luau luau luau. So much better now.)
Likewise, I find your contributions edifying and droll. My knowledge of French is feeble (gleaned mostly from Pimsleur CDs and a girlfriend), and I am in debt to you for some recent additions to my (latent) French vocabulary (as well as my active English vocabulary). I hope to live in France for a while someday (so far I’ve only managed a month a few years ago), so I’m glad that, if you leave Wordnik, I can still live vicariously through the exploits you post on your ’blog (followed).
For the year I’ve been here (most of which was under a different alias), Wordnik has had the most consistently impressive membership I’ve seen in a website. (This is, I’m sure you’ll agree, its greatest asset.) I fear I must remain until it sinks.
(Note that it won’t display properly on the “Community” or “all comments” pages, thanks to the double-parsing bug I already pointed out elsewhere, not that it does any good to debug someone else’s website when they sabotage it themselves and make it so very clear that they have no intention of fixing it.)
The present definition at Wiktionary is “Simple past tense and past participle of haft.” I don’t know if it’s a Wordik bug, or if it just scraped Wiktionary at a bad time, but it’s going on my list of apocrypha. (This will be the first entry not from The American Heritage Dictionary.)
Curiously, Wordnik lists couchant as an antonym, while the CD&C declares it a synonym. Perhaps this is related to the “rare” confusion the CD&C notes, in its third definition of couchant (which see), between couchant and dormant.
“I do not know,” he began, “if you have ever considered the nature of sound. Suffice to say that it consists of a series of waves moving through the air. Not, however, waves like those on the surface of the sea — oh dear no! Those waves are up and down movements. Sound waves consist of alternate compressions and rarefactions.”
sionnach: You’re right, we shouldn’t. Also, thanks for not letting that stop you. (My vote is skewism, but I just made it up.)
Edit I think it’s technically a faulty parallelism, but I agree that it’s a special case that works by superimposing two grammatically-correct constructions. (I’m tempted to apply the word superposition, but again I’d be inventing terminology.)
ruzuzu: I think that’s an excellent idea (setting up camp until we get list comments back part, I mean, not the being haunted. Not that the being haunted thing isn’t good question—it is. I’m just not saying that anyone should go out of her way to be so haunted. I mean, it was only the former, not the latter, to which I was referring. You know what I mean. Goosnargh).
The query “site:wordnik.com inurl:wordnik.com/lists” gives significantly more (583) results. (Google claims “about 1,060,000”, but says most of them are “very similar to the 583 already displayed”.) Perhaps I’ll begin on those next weekend.
(P.S.: The part of the Wayback Machine that serves pages is down for maintenance this weekend, so we’ll have to wait until Monday to see if the archived list pages have comments.)
Finally (ultimately, if you prefer) and indirectly, (as it’s actually a link on a Google Buzz post which shouldn’t technically match the search criteria, but who am I to dictate search syntax to Google?) the thirteenth and final Wordnik list about which Google claims to know anything:
This one is just weird. Maybe these things I’m taking for bugs represent the Wordnik brain’s jumbled, puerile understanding (speaking metaphorically, I hope) of the lexical universe it inhabits. (It does seem more likely it’s some sort of parsing error specific to the American Heritage Dictionary, but I can dream.)
It was probably “intended . . . to be spoken or sung as a part of worship. The creed itself uses the language of public worship . . . (‘Pew pew pew!’). In the Catholic Church in medieval times, this creed was recited following the Sunday sermon or at the Sunday Optimus Prime.”
— “Eyebeam Creed”. Madeupicalpædia.
This emoticon best expresses my feelings about the recent troubles here. I wanted to add :-/ to my Emotinomicon; this was the result. I can see why the URL must be spelled with %2F, but why doesn’t the page translate it back into a virgule? Oh, I see: it URL-encodes it twice; first it encodes the “/” as “%2F”, then it encoded the “%” as “%25”, so we get “%252F”.
Thanks for the list, blafferty. (There’s another evening down the drain.) I hope similar lists for other Elder Wordniks erupt soon.
I’ve been trying to collect best-of-Wordnik-commentary lists in an effort to get caught up with the shared culture here, and in the process realized the most important feature setting Wordnik apart from other online metadictionaries; it’s the same difference between attending a university campus and studying alone at home. (It is, unfortunately, also the feature most emasculated by the new interface.)
Here’s another ghost word attached to an American Heritage Dictionary biography. (I should make a separate list for these.) Disregarding its obvious etymology, I’m trying to decide whether to pronounce it like the phrase “theirpublican”, or with a voiceless th, a long u, and pronounced second e (a la therapeutic): “θaer-uh-pyoo-bluh-kuhn”.
You’re welcome; also, I hope it wasn’t too spammy of me to post so many comments all at once. (There are four left, so if so, say so now.) I was motivated primarily by nostalgia for list and profile comments.
It’s practically straight out of Lovecraft. I miss that rag. In college I had a giant disintegrating cardboard box full of them. (I had this nutty idea I was going to write a role-playing game in the genre.) I was in a band that was briefly named “Maria, the Horse that Eats Cats” (named for the subject of an article titled “Animal lovers outraged at horse – THAT EATS CATS!”) before the other members decided on something more hackneyed.
I eventually gave them all (the magazines) to an appreciative flatmate. Thank Google they’ve been preserved digitally: