Comments by rolig

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  • Slovene for "their necessary nun".

    NOTE: The "their" here (njun- is dual, meaning "belonging to the two of them". Also j is pronounced like the y in yet or boy.

    There are a fairly limited number of applications for this phrase, but I can think of one right off the bat:
    "When lightweight Sister Bertrille, in her wide-brimmed cornette, rescued the two kittens who had climbed into the high tree branches, the Slovenes all agreed she was 'their necessary nun' (njuna nujna nuna)!"

    August 15, 2011

  • According to one theory, the word "spruce" may be a borrowing from a Polish expression"drzewo/drewno z Prus": "tree/timber from Prussia", in which case the initial s- would be derived from the Slavic preposition s/z, "from".

    August 9, 2011

  • Ruz, you may be right that this is not actually spam. After all, D1Collum links to Wikipedia, not to the Coca-Cola page. But I don't really detect any snarkiness, though it's possible my snarkometer is rusty.

    August 8, 2011

  • The comment below looks a lot like SPAM. Or perhaps the commenter believes that the Coca-Cola Company doesn't get enough attention in the logophile community.

    By the way, I agree with one of the examples above that Dasani is simply heavily hyped bottled tap water. People should think twice about buying it.

    August 7, 2011

  • Is this a "real" word? Or did somebody just think it was neat to combine "dispose" and "phobia" in this way? What, have we all become 10th-graders now? I mean, does anyone even bother anymore trying to find out if there is an applicable Greek stem that would go with -phobia here? (Qroqqa, can you help? Would apobolophobia work? In any case, it's much nicer than "disposophobia" *shudder*.)

    If I were running the world, everyone would have to go through a couple of years of Greek and Latin, with some Hebrew, Sanskrit and Taoist/Confucian Chinese thrown in as well. Oh, and a bit of Quranic Arabic wouldn't hurt either. And maybe some Swahili, too. Not, of course, that I am afraid to throw away any of the great, culture-defining languages of the world.

    August 2, 2011

  • The Hebrew word for the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Also spelled "nachash".

    August 2, 2011

  • I am a guy who writes this instead of "with the". I expect there are a lot of us.
    (Very strange visuals connected with this word, by the way. What's up with all those romantic gazes and poses?)

    August 2, 2011

  • Queer cat?

    August 1, 2011

  • This seems to be a fake profile for ruzuzu which is sending love messages around town. The notification I received by email said that "ruzuzâ•—u" had left a comment on my profile page.

    July 29, 2011

  • As the old joke goes, if pro is the opposite of con, then the opposite of progress is . . .

    July 29, 2011

  • Or even cold slaw (the eggcorn I grew up with), which of course must be served chilled.

    July 28, 2011

  • So then what would elaborately shredded cabbage be?

    July 28, 2011

  • also spelt foetid (BrE).

    July 27, 2011

  • I take your point(s).

    July 25, 2011

  • Maybe so, but one hundredth of a lek can't be worth a whole lot.

    July 25, 2011

  • I don't know, blaffy, but that would be a fun list to peruse on a rainy day.

    July 25, 2011

  • Umm, I think you mean euphemisms.

    July 24, 2011

  • Yarb, I just came across your villanelle on sustainism and am truly impressed. Kudos!

    July 24, 2011

  • This is a conversation I missed 6 months ago. I'm surprised no one has yet listed this word in order to preserve this amazing colloquy for the Wordie/Wordnik archives! I am sincerely impressed by the creativity shown here (leaving aside M. Schwarz's suistic comment, which started the volley).

    July 24, 2011

  • Dontcry, you do what's right for you. And I'm sure that whatever you do, it's fierce.

    July 23, 2011

  • Очень интересно! Добро пожаловать на Уордник!

    July 23, 2011

  • Dontcry, I think the feminine form of "graphic designer" would be "graphic designress": the -ress suffix generally corresponds to the -er suffix, while -trix goes with -tor (though there are exceptions, for example actor/actress).
    Bilby, you're right about aviatrix, which often appears in combination with the phrase Amelia Earhart.
    Ruzuzu, with regard to a possible feminine form for "Wordnik", I would point out that the -nik suffix is of Slavic origin (in some cases coming into Am.English via Yiddish), and in the Slavic languages the feminine counterpart to -nik words is, as a rule, -nitsa (in the past sometimes transliterated as -nitza, and today, in the so-called scientific transliteration, as -nica), as in the Russian words любовник, любовница / lyubovnik, lyubovnitsa (male and female "lover", respectively). That would give us Wordnitsa, or if you prefer Wordnitza.

    July 23, 2011

  • This is the Serbo-Bosno-Croatian word for "actor".

    July 23, 2011

  • There are not many English words where the feminine forms in -trix are still in use. I have seen executrix for the female executor of a will, but the most famous -trix is, of course, dominatrix, and I expect that this word would influence the connotations of any other -trix word that one might try to revive or introduce. Thus, one feels that a woman who insists on being known as an editrix is not merely an editor without a Y chromosome, but is a really demanding editor as well. Curiously, the English cognate of this suffix, -ess has almost exactly opposite connotations, suggesting the sentimental, romantic, or temperamental side of things, as in the words poetess and authoress – which is why very early in the feminist movement women writers tended to reject such terms for themselves. Who today would dare to refer to Virginia Woolf as an authoress or Sylvia Plath as a poetess? Would anyone have called Margaret Thatcher a prime ministress? Such words were thought to be demeaning not because they referred to women but because they were associated with notions of dilletantism and weakness, in the sense of not being able to deal with the serious matters of politics and commerce.

    July 23, 2011

  • I don't know why anyone would hack for yers, since they are readily obtainable in any Cyrillic font. I think Lord Crusty must be mistaken.

    July 22, 2011

  • A great word, coined (or purloined) by Bilby on the Feedback page. It is refreshing to see a useful coinage that isn't some crudely hacked-together portmanteaujam.

    July 21, 2011

  • Related to the glitchette Bilby noted: Today I noticed that when I posted comments, the display is "15 hours ago", "17 hourse ago", etc. Could this be related to the different time zones? I'm in Central Europe and Bilby is (I think) in Australia.

    July 21, 2011

  • Thanks, Ru. Actually, I'm pretty serious, but that can be fun, too. By the way, I second Prolagus's comment below about your heroicism.

    July 21, 2011

  • I think you mean balneatrix.

    July 21, 2011

  • No, it is a term in Slavic linguistics. Specifically, the yers are the reduced vowels, or schwas, of Old Slavic, usually represented using the Cyrillic letters ь (pronounced in Old Slavic something like the "i" in "hit") and ъ (pronounced in Old Slavic something like the "u" in "hut"). In modern Russian, these letters are known as the "soft sign" and "hard sign", respectively; they no longer represent any sound in themselves, although they still retain the power to affect the pronunciation of the letters around them. In Bulgarian, by contrast, the hard yer is still very much alive as a vowel. It is largely because of the yers, by the way – or more specifically because of their loss of phonetic value over a millennium ago – that the Slavic languages have their characteristic consonant clusters, as in the Slovene word vzdržljiv ("durable"), which at one point would have been pronounced with yers: vъzьdъržljiv (/vuziduržljiv/).

    July 21, 2011

  • I'm really happy for you and your friends, Athur. Use this word to your heart's content. But for me it just doesn't meet the standards of a successful portmanteau, which I think of as the "chortle standards" in honor of one of the best portmanteaux ever coined (by Charles L. Dodgson no less): clarity of origin (snort and chuckle), simplicity or elegance of meaning derived from the original components (a chuckle that is like a snort, or vice versa), ease of use (easily pronounced, easily inflected - chortling, chortled), and usefulness (a particular kind of laugh that until chortle came along had not been aptly named). So go ahead and have your menfauxpause, but don't expect me to chortle along with you and your word-coining associates, though I might be chortling at you.

    July 20, 2011

  • The style guide of the Oxford University Press. A kind of British counterpart to The Chicago Manual of Style.

    July 19, 2011

  • A type of experimental poetry introduced in the early 20th century by the Russian futurist poets, especially Aleksey Kruchyonykh, Velimir Khlebnikov, and Daniil Kharms, which was based on sound symbolism and phonaesthesia. The Russian name заумь / zaum' was coined by combining the prefix za- ("trans-", "beyond") and the root um ("mind"); hence this kind of writing is sometimes referred to as "transrational".

    July 19, 2011

  • aBaBccDDeFFeGG

    A sonnet-like form invented by Pushkin for Eugene Onegin, it can work as four quatrains plus a couplet (like a Shakespearean sonnet) or as two quatrains plus a sestet (like the Petrarchan sonnet).

    July 19, 2011

  • "A horse is a horse, of course, of course." – Gertrude Stein.

    July 18, 2011

  • Would this be Englished as "the history of writability"?

    July 17, 2011

  • An interesting variant on inkhorn's suggestion:

    "Let's all glaze our asses and toast our queer dean!"

    July 16, 2011

  • Wonderful list!

    July 16, 2011

  • The British term for what Americans call a "copyeditor".

    July 16, 2011

  • Taken from a comment to John E. McIntyre's blog post "Whatever" (15 July 2011) by Gary K.:

    "Alas, the Twitterverse in particular, and the #APstyle hashtag in particular, has made it quite clear that style fetishism is still alive and well on copy desks."

    July 16, 2011

  • "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day."
    – Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance", Essays and Lectures (New York: Library of America, 1983), 265.

    July 16, 2011

  • "Stylebooks are useful for regularizing practice in spelling, capitalization, abbreviation, and a host of other mechanical details so that the reader is not distracted by inconsistent practice. And you want to maintain consistent practice for the ease of your readers. But it is a mistake to make idols of stylebooks, expecting them to substitute for judgment."

    – John E. McIntyre, copyediting guru, on his blog "You Don't Say": "Whatever" (15 July 2011)

    July 16, 2011

  • As used by the copyeditor's favorite agony aunt, the estimable Carol Fisher Saller, on the Chicago Manual of Style's Q&A page:

    "The best approach is to avoid strings of hyphens or en dashes, and combining them should be an absolute last resort. Give yourself a limit of two or three typographical boogers in a row, and whenever there’s danger of exceeding it, consider rewriting."

    July 14, 2011

  • Mollusque, but surely some panvocalics are more amazing than others. And Reesetee, are you really claiming that you have every possible bird-word ever coined or ever to be coined already on one of your lists? Really? Your Wordie work is done, at least with regard to things ornithic? (Ahem, doesn't look like you have ornithic on any list, my friend.)

    July 13, 2011

  • JoeCool, chill. The Century Dictionary was published nearly 100 years ago. At the time, "Mohammedan" was the well-established, fully acceptable, politically correct term for someone who followed the teachings of the prophet Mohammed (just as Buddhists follow the teachings of Buddha, and Christians follow the teachings of Christ).

    This is another example of Wordnik giving too little pertinent information about the definitions it provides. It would be good to tell us the edition and date of the dictionaries that are cited. Obviously, a definition from a 100-year-old dictionary will have a different value from a definition from a dictionary published in 2010.

    Also, as you suggest, usage notes would be helpful. I have no idea why "talisman" is defined as a Muslim cleric, but clearly such usage of the word is obsolete today. Similarly, Century's definition no. 2 is a very narrow, technical usage of the word (in anthropology), while only the 3rd and 4th definitions reflect the way we use the word today in general speech.

    July 12, 2011

  • There must be an -eering list somewhere on Wordnik. Maybe even a pair of them, with a matching necklace.

    July 12, 2011

  • Ow! Pain!

    July 12, 2011

  • Another thing I miss: It used to be that if a certain comment on the Zeitgeist page (I miss "Zeitgeist", too, by the way) led me to click on a word, I was interested to see what lists it had been included on and by whom. Now I can still see various lists the word is on, but I don't know who listed it. If you are going to call it a "community", can we at least know who is participating? I might, for example, wonder why a word about birds isn't on any of Reesetee's lists, or be surprised to see that Chained_Bear has listed something on one of her medieval fortification lists, or ask myself how is it that Mollusque has missed some amazing panvocalic. Please, tell us whose lists the words are on. Where did you guys get the idea that less information is an improvement?

    July 12, 2011

  • Something in particular that I miss: an indication on the word lists of how many comments each word has received and how many lists it appears on. The reason I liked this was that when I listed an unusual word or phrase, I was always interested to find out, maybe even weeks or months later, if anyone else found this word or phrase interesting or had included it on a list. Now there is no way to know that.

    As a general rule, it seems that if you are going to change the way something functions, you should make sure the new system does not remove useful information that the old system provided. Even with the change from Wordie to Wordnik, the Old Wordie used to give you links to a fairly wide list of dictionary and quasi-dictionary sources for a word. If you wondered about some current slang, you could easily click on the Urban Dictionary link; if you wanted to find out about the etymology, you had the Online Etymology Dictionary link. And if you knew about a good source of information about words (Prolagus, I remember, was all excited about Forvo), you would tell John and pretty soon you'd probably be seeing a link to that online source too. Now all we have is Century, Am. Heritage, Wiktionary, and Wordnet. The other 10 or 12 resource links from Old Wordie just aren't there. The result is you get the message: "These are the definitions," not "Here are a lot of good places where you can find a whole lot of different definitions and decide what it is you are looking for exactly. Oh, and by the way, if you come across another place that has good word information, let us know and we'll add it."

    I miss Wordie.

    July 11, 2011

  • I don't think anyone has conspired to depersonalize the site, and I don't think that is what mollusque is saying. But compared to the hands-on, very personal character of John's original Wordie site, where there was great feeling of collegiality among the users and a sense that John was always doing his best to accommodate our requests and needs, Wordnik has always felt more like a corporate undertaking - despite Erin's unchanging friendliness - where the both the social aspect (of people talking about words, goofing around, making up words) and the desire to accommodate individual needs (like my Slovene word lists) have taken second place to I am not sure what: the dictionary? Wordnik's status as the "go-to" place for information about words? Personally, I liked it better when we had a choice of dictionaries to go to or could even offer definitions from other sources. In any case, with the transition to Wordnik, and especially with the new layout, I feel like the personal user-focused aspect (comments, histories of comments, listing history, ease and flexibility of lists and tags) has been downgraded to an "added feature", not the main thing.

    July 10, 2011

  • I only jump a story if I already know how it's going to end.

    July 8, 2011

  • Well, the call of nature, too, is all about "tingly urges, voids or voiding, and aiming".

    July 6, 2011

  • Well, the French word "l'appel" means "call", not "attraction", though there is a semantic overlap, or overhang, if you prefer.

    And then there's the lapel of the void, which gives the phrase "haute couture" a whole new meaning.

    July 2, 2011

  • Would an appropriate translation be the call of the void?

    This reminds me of some famous lines from Pushkin's "little tragedy" Пир во время чумы / Feast During the Plague (1830):

    Есть упоение в бою,
    И бездны мрачной на краю,
    И в разъяренном океане,
    Средь грозных волн и бурной тьмы,
    И в аравийском урагане,
    И в дуновении Чумы.

    There's rapture in a battle, bliss
    Upon the brink of the abyss,
    And in the raging ocean's fury,
    Midst angry waves and darkness vague,
    And in the desert whirlwind's hurry,
    And in the breeze that brings the Plague.
    (Translated by M. E. Yankelevich)

    July 2, 2011

  • Canadian term for alcoholic, especially the ones looking for handouts on the streets. Presumably, it's derived from "rubbing alcohol".

    July 2, 2011

  • Superlative form of twince, "cringingly quaint" (i.e. twee+wince).

    July 1, 2011

  • A bug, I expect: today (and it has not happened until today) when I open the Community page, it does indeed open, but I also get a pop-up box with the message: "This rails.js does not support the jQuery version you are using. Please read documentation." I click on the box and it goes away and I would think nothing more about it, were it not that the box appears every time I want to join, if not enjoin, the Community. What's that about?

    July 1, 2011

  • Dumplings (mmm!) in Slovene.

    *disappointed that there aren't any visuals and wonders why, since there are lots of pics resulting from a Google Images search"*

    June 30, 2011

  • Many English verbs can be used both transitively and intransitively (including solidify), so, strange as it seems, there is a good chance you are both right. (No need to start throwing fufluns at each other.)

    June 30, 2011

  • Definitely there needs to be a "Show all comments" button; otherwise much of Wordie/Wordnik history will become inaccessible.

    June 30, 2011

  • I agree wholeheartedly with what Yarb said seven minutes ago.
    29 June 2011, 1:04 a.m. CET

    June 28, 2011

  • Here, surely, fell is being used as an adjective, meaning "fatal, deadly, ruthless, cruel", not as a verb.

    June 26, 2011

  • Again, Erin, John, and Tony, thanks for your help in getting me back onto Wordnik. But now the first of my "feedback" comments. Generally, I like the clean look of the word pages, and I like the black and orange color scheme (since I'm originally from Baltimore, they are my home colors: GO, ORIOLES!). But there are two things about it that, visually speaking I don't like: the black lines running across the page dividing up the various sections make the page seem too segmented. The lines are too black, too thick, and too solid: they shout "This is DESIGN!" I loved the original almost-invisible-design look of the original Wordie. As someone in the publications business (editor, copyeditor, translator), I know how easy it is for graphic design to overwhelm the text, the words, and I think this may be a problem with the new look. The other thing about the design that is a problem for me is the black banner. I like the fact that it remains at the top of the screen when you scroll -- this is very helpful -- but does it have to be solid black? It reminds me of the borders that go around obituary notices, which is not a good omen. Perhaps a charcoal gray would be better? Solid black on a computer screen really is black-black, and for my eye at least, a little tiring to look at.

    June 24, 2011

  • I don't mind the "love" button. Though normally I would agree with you, Dontcry, about the way so many Internet conventions cheapen the meanings of words ("friend" of course being the classic example), the fact is that a lot of people do love words, so "love" seems OK to me. But shouldn't there also be a "hate" button? Or is Wordnik now all about sweetness and light? (Despite the funereal black banner that makes the page seem like it's in mourning.)

    June 24, 2011

  • Many thanks, Erin, John, and Tony for all your efforts! At last I seem to be able to view word pages. I guess it was that funny č in one of my list names that was causing the problem. How peculiar.

    June 22, 2011

  • Erin, as I just wrote by email. Once I cleared the cookies, I did get access to word pages, but after I logged in I started getting the error pages again. This is very frustrating.

    June 21, 2011

  • Erin, thanks for responding. I'm using a Mac OS 10.4.11 with Safari 4.0.5. Do I need to update something? (I'm posting on your profile page as well as the feedback page just in case.)

    June 20, 2011

  • Erin, thanks for responding. I'm using a Mac OS 10.4.11 with Safari 4.0.5. Do I need to update something?

    June 20, 2011

  • Am I the only one getting the Trouble Delivering That Page page when I click on a word? I'm feeling left out of things. I don't even know if I like the "new" Wordnik because I can't get onto any word pages.

    June 20, 2011

  • Everytime I try to get to a word or comment page, I get the message "Trouble delivering this page". What is wrong?

    June 20, 2011

  • collar (from G. Kragen, Krägelchen)

    June 15, 2011

  • mijaauuu

    *Erazma, pejd stran od računalnika!*

    Apologies, all. My cat Erazma was playing with the keyboard again.

    June 14, 2011

  • the European hake; a popular food item in Slovenia and throughout the Adriatic.

    June 14, 2011

  • It reminds me of toothsome – and the sexiest mom on family television in the early 1960s. (Why can't I find a picture of her in Capri pants that does her justice?) But then, of course, it would need another "o".

    June 13, 2011

  • For me, the most dignified of the common vegetables is the onion, whether enclosed within itself in its multiple thin layers and fragile elegant outer skin, yellow, white, red, or purple, or presented in its "young" or "spring" version, as a small compact white ball that explodes upwards in crisp dark green shoots.

    Following very close after is the leek (so similar in appearance to the "spring onion", only larger), which must be one of the few vegetables to be chosen as the emblem of an entire nation (and a nation of poets, to boot).

    June 13, 2011

  • Very clever, Fox. But shouldn't "rescued" be in quotes?

    June 11, 2011

  • Sorry you were here all by yourself, Foxy, but I see you managed to have fun with the sheep. As for the Scythians, you probably know that Russians have been claiming the Scythian legacy for themselves at least since the mid-19th century. Not to mention all the Scythian gold they have in the depositories of the hermitage. But as for the dreaded ovine plant, when I looked up the word баранец / baranets (the Russian name for it) on the Russian Wikipedia (Википедия), all the references they had for it were Western reports, so who know what the origin of the legend is.

    June 11, 2011

  • I approve. (Not that you need my approval.)

    June 11, 2011

  • I'm claiming this for my Slavonicisms list, on the suspicion that the word derives from the Russian word баран / baran, which means "ram". (In Russian, баранец / baranets is the name of a moss, Huperzia selago, the northern firmoss or fir clubmoss, but what relation that has to sheep-bearing vegetation I don't know).

    June 11, 2011

  • Wow, I was there the previous autumn, when I was doing a semester abroad studying Russian through the CIEE program. The tickets were cheap and there were no lines then, so I went there at least once a week. That is where I learned to see art.

    I am sure things have changed. I couldn't afford to do that now, since their prices are on a par with other major museums and there are long lines. But I think they do have more of their collection on view, and probably on rotation.

    June 10, 2011

  • I just read "The Curator", in the Word document Sionnach had linked to two years ago. (Thanks, Fox!) It's marvelous, and brought back memories of my own wanderings through the Hermitage some 30 years ago. It is a special place.

    June 10, 2011

  • How do you outsleech a sleech? And isn't this a Dr. Seuss creature?

    June 9, 2011

  • Right, Bil, I forgot about him:

    Free Ai Weiwei!

    June 9, 2011

  • Sort of like War and Peace or Vasily Grossman's incredible Life and Fate about the Battle of Stalingrad?

    June 9, 2011

  • What's "Ender's game", Pro?

    June 9, 2011

  • not to be confused with belittologist, one who specializes in the study of demeaning remarks.

    June 9, 2011

  • Prolagus is in fact undefinable.

    June 9, 2011

  • Free Liu Xiaobo!
    Free Tibet!
    Stop the oppression of the Uyghur people!
    Stop Chinese aggression!

    Stop SPAM!!!

    June 9, 2011

  • It is interesting that the Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, one of the leading British spelling guides, recommends the spelling fledgling (not fledgeling). But of course, it approves the British spellings acknowledgement and judgement. Now why is that?

    June 8, 2011

  • It's like advise and advice, only there is no difference in pronunciation. Or is there, Frindley?

    June 8, 2011

  • The thing with "eye dialect" is that a lot of these words are not dialectal pronunciations; they are standard pronunciations, only they are spelled the way they are pronounced. Most native speakers of English pronounce "was" as "wuz", for example, and pronounce "want to", "going to", and "don't you" as "wanna", "gonna", and "dontcha", at least in normal relaxed speech. But someone is quoted as saying "I wuz", "I'm gonna" or "I wanna", often the implication is that they are ignorant or unsophisticated or simply not part of the elite speech community, even though the most sophisticated speakers pronounce these expressions in exactly the same way. Of course a number of the words on this list do convey dialectal pronunciations ("heah", "moider") or stereotypical non-native pronunciations ("ze" for "the", "vant" for "want").

    On a side point, it is interesting that we tend to consider dialectal or non-native pronunciations as a sign of ignorance, naivety, or simplemindedness. I had a friend in college who was from Russia and we almost always spoke Russian together. He was a brilliant, sensitive man, and I enjoyed our conversations. But then once I remember having a conversation with him in English. Although his English wasn't terrible, he had a strong Russian accent, and I distinctly remember having to remind myself that this man speaking broken English was not an imbecile but my intelligent, sensitive, witty friend.

    And that is the main problem we face with "eye dialects": they tend to convey not the person but only, or primarily, the speech-mask.

    June 8, 2011

  • Amazing.

    June 8, 2011

  • This word annoys me in so many ways I don't know where to begin. For one thing, its relation with two of its three component words – faux pas, and menopause – is virtually opaque when pronounced (and it is not easy to pronounce). Second, since the key component word, menopause, is a term that primarily refers to women's biology, it is not even clear that the men- part of this portmanteau references men (the usual element in such things is "man-"), so perhaps this is something inappropriate that women do during menopause: a menfauxpause. Why not? Third, is this a singular or plural word, or both? Who knows? The last two syllables sound like the non-standard plural pronunciation (by some) of faux pas, and yet it looks like a singular noun. And fourth, since the first syllable of faux pas is normally not reduced, but the second syllable of menopause almost always is reduced, there is no easy way to say this word that would clearly relate to both faux pas and menopause at the same time. This is not a successful portmanteau, however clever it might seem at first glance.

    June 7, 2011

  • Is "eye dialect" pronouncing words the way they are spelled (like coinkidink or spelling words the way they are pronounced (like wanna). I think it's the latter.
    I think the origins of the term lie in attempts to convey something perceived as "dialect" in writing, especially attempts in the 19th century to convey forms of English associated with minorities (African Americans, South Asians, Chinese), with the result that certain spellings became emblematic of illiteracy, naivety, etc. The idea was to find a visual representation of oral non-standard speech, hence "eye dialect."

    June 7, 2011

  • A user-organized site for information about Welsh nationalism, perhaps?

    June 6, 2011

  • Slovene idiom for "to give up". Literally, it means "to throw the rifle in the corn(field)".

    Today, after the ruling coalition disastrously lost three referenda yesterday at the polls, the Slovene prime minister, Borut Pahor, told the press: "As long as we hold the responsibility for running the country, we are not going to throw the rifle in the corn!" ( Dokler imamo odgovornost za vodenje države, ne bomo vrgli puške v koruzo!).

    June 6, 2011

  • A groaning board is a table (=board, as in "room and board") overflowing with delicious food, a banquet. It is an old expression that is today quaint enough to be used by restaurants and taverns as their name. It's a true collocation, I believe, not just a compound noun.

    June 6, 2011

  • Here in Slovenia, sausage is almost always sold in pairs. See this picture of how our famous Carniolan sausage (kranjska klobasa, Krainerwurst) is packaged for sale. When you go to buy sausage at the deli, you usually say how many pairs (pari) you want.

    June 6, 2011

  • sausages

    June 5, 2011

  • I think I remember reading in David Crystal's Stories of English that spellings like this are Scots English, which preserved the hw- pronounciation of the question words, but represented it as qw- or quh-.

    June 5, 2011

  • A kind of ghost metathesis, Ptero?

    June 5, 2011

  • Curious transliteration. Čajkovskij would make perfect sense, as would Czajkowskij or even Chaykovskiy. And then there's Tchaïkovski and Tschaikowski, not to mention English's hybrid Tchaikovsky. For more on the vagaries of transliterating Russian names into multiple languages, see my list twenty-six ways of (correctly) spelling the name of the author of the cherry orchard.

    June 5, 2011

  • Getting there – to "way more fun", I mean. But still, not really. Now what would be "way more fun" is the internal parvenu service. That might even be useful too.

    June 5, 2011

  • Way more fun? Not really.

    June 5, 2011

  • Now, that is way more fun.

    June 5, 2011

  • Oops, I guess that's not "way more fun" than Russia.

    June 5, 2011

  • A heavy metal band, perhaps?

    June 5, 2011

  • From Czech ("little hook"), the upside down circumflex, or caron, over certain letters, such as š, č, ř, ž, and ě in Czech.

    In Slovene, this is called strešica ("little roof").

    In English, this is sometimes written, illogically, haček (I mean, if you're going to use one diacritic, why not use them both?)

    June 5, 2011

  • I think the metathesis theory is probably correct, but I also find it interesting that a non-rhotic speaker (e.g. British "received pronunciation"), would probably say, "comf-ta-bull" without any metathesis, but it parallels the rhotic "comf-ter-bull", which is the result (maybe) of metathesis.

    June 5, 2011

  • Wouldn't that be a little like carbonara sauce?

    *goes to look up recipe*

    June 5, 2011

  • Often appears in the form: one of the best-kept secrets.

    June 4, 2011

  • I just added the obvious: q.v.

    June 4, 2011

  • To answer Ptero's question, "Who put the 'ter' in 'comf-ter-bull'?", I have a couple theories, perhaps not mutually exclusive:
    a) It was our old friend, Mr Metathesis (the "r" and "t" sounds traded places): "com-ferta-bull" becomes "com-ftera-bull" becomes "comf-ter-bull"
    b) It's a kind of rhotic-dialect insertion, like the "r" in "idea", combined with the ellision of the "-or-" syllable: "com-fer-ta-bull" becomes "comf-ta-bull" becomes, rhotically, "comf-ter-bull".

    But I'm only a hobby-linguist, so I would wait for Ms Qroqqa (or, rhotically, Qroqqer) to chime in.

    June 4, 2011

  • You just have to try real hard, blaff.

    June 4, 2011

  • And humans drink their milk, but not as a rule swine's milk. And while men are often compared to swine, comparisons to kine tend to be reserved for women, especially in British English (Am. English prefers canines as the object of comparison in this case).

    June 3, 2011

  • Cows are taller.

    June 2, 2011

  • Unless your name is Buffy.

    May 31, 2011

  • Another gem culled from the STF dominoes: "out of the closet doors of perception bias".

    May 30, 2011

  • A saying attributed to a pope.

    May 30, 2011

  • Btw, the picture below may illustrate what Italians believe biscotti to be, but in English I would simply call those cookies (American English) or biscuits (British English). When Americans say "biscotti", they are probably thinking of something like this.

    May 29, 2011

  • "My names are Saif Al Islam Ghadaffi" – but you can call him Al. The late Al. And not because he never shows up on time. Well, he doesn't, or at least he won't ever again. We hope.

    May 29, 2011

  • You are right about the examples for alar. If you want to bring that to the attention of the people who manage Wordnik, you should put a comment on the feedback page.

    May 29, 2011

  • A set phrase, and one of the many euphemisms for fat.

    May 29, 2011

  • very amusing, Bilby! But in fact, I see it as my sworn duty to speak against Dr Moreau-like experimentation on words that are best left in their natural habitat. (And please do not refer to such hybrid beasts as mormanteaux!)

    May 27, 2011

  • I think you might have read that wrong, HH. What I saw a moment ago on Wiktionary was this: "(chiefly sciences) Plural form of penis"

    May 27, 2011

  • One of the mysterious words that haunted my childhood, delighting and awing me and, perhaps, nurturing my desire to understand the meanings of words and symbols. Others encountered in my otherwise austere Presbyterian church were IHS, which was both the initials of the first three words of the message in Constantine's vision: In hoc signo vinces as well as the first three letters of Jesus' name, in a kind of Latinized Greek alphabet: IHSOYS, and the intersecting Chi Rho (XP), another Constantinian symbol.

    May 27, 2011

  • Qroqqa, you're right, of course: the word is ill-formed by traditional standards. But then so are television, heterosexual, and a host of other words. I suppose this is evidence that the element -archy has become, or is becoming, a widely productive suffix, regardless of the etymology of the word it joins to, similar to what happened with -ology decades ago.

    May 27, 2011

  • puer is Latin for "boy"; hence, puerile.

    May 26, 2011

  • Clever, Q. You're saying that today you had a stupiphany about this. It took me a moment to "see what you were doing there" (as the cliche goes). But although I think this is actually a pretty good portmanteau (not only momentarily amusing but also smart, clear, and transferable), I am so sick of the recent portmanteau mania, that I have declared a Moratorium on Portmanteaux (which must never under any circumstances be referred to as a "portmantorium"!).

    May 26, 2011

  • Poor Bilby! Perhaps a melodious earworm from Joni Mitchell (or if you prefer, Judy Collins) might help?

    In any case, a few suggestions for the list:
    block the sun
    rain and snow on everyone
    get in the way

    May 25, 2011

  • gangerh, "inRI"? Like the inscription on the Cross? INRI - Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudæorum, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". Was this a Paschal Freudian slip?

    May 25, 2011

  • By the way, can one of our Latin scholars answer's mariep's question, which started this whole thing: 'Can this be translated as "Everything in threes is perfect"?'

    May 24, 2011

  • Thanks, gangerh! And by the way, what does easter in mean? Not to go to church on Easter Sunday? As in: "No, we're skipping the service this year. We thought we'd Easter in."

    May 24, 2011

  • Erin go bragh burning out of the closet – sounds like a chapter from the life story of a couple of people I know.

    May 24, 2011

  • Love your phonestheme lists, Ptero!

    May 24, 2011

  • I second Ptero's bravo, Blafferty! I added snooty, which comes from snoot, of course, and refers to nose-turner-uppers. I see you have snob on the list, and that would seem to make sense by the same logic, but according to the etymological note in the OAD, its origins are obscure and, in fact, "earlier senses conveyed a notion of 'lower status or rank'", which surprised me.

    May 24, 2011

  • What, by the way, does east erin refer to?
    Personally, I would be afraid of stirring up the Furies, especially if you're going to split their name in two. Not nice at all. Instead, I'm going to go with the luck of the Irish (though they haven't been so lucky recently), and add go bragh.

    May 24, 2011

  • Would "twist" and "twirl" be evocative of twisting and twirling if they didn't mean what they mean? Would a non-English-speaker, upon hearing the word "twist" immediately think of rotation? I suspect that our feeling that these words somehow evoke the idea of spinning and winding may be related to other things, like our sense of the words twine, whirl, etc., as well as the onomatopoeia we associate with the initial w-/wh- sounds, as in wind, whip, whoosh, whizz, etc.

    As for what word might be used for such associations, the word you use is good: evocative. I also call them fibrous words.

    May 23, 2011

  • Thanks, Pro and Qroqqa, for the clarifications. Qroqqa, what did Perseus do (besides cut off Medusa's head, of course) to get himself filtered? Is it that potty mouth of his?

    By the way, do you think English sayings, like "Good things come in threes" and "Third time lucky" could go back to this Latin expression? There is a comparable saying in Slovene: "V tretje gre rado", which means something like "third time lucky".

    May 23, 2011

  • Shouldn't this be omne trium perfectum (see the online Latin Dictionary)?

    May 23, 2011

  • Foxy, that sounds like something Sylvester the Cat might say (or I am thinking of Daffy Duck?).
    *wonders if Fox is brushing up on his Deutsch*

    May 22, 2011

  • But "Per-fuckin-fection!" might work, eh? Note the nice alliteration.

    May 22, 2011

  • But do people now say "Per-fuckin-fect!"?
    *not sorry that I'm a little out of it*

    May 22, 2011

  • There are some wonderful segments here: killing fields of gold fish!

    May 22, 2011

  • and joy

    May 22, 2011

  • Bravo, Fox!

    May 20, 2011

  • I would punctuate this differently: I heard her say, "Who knew?" – no full stop necessary. But more to the point, this does not really illustrate the backshift, at least not as I understand it. A better illustration would be if she asks, "Who knows about the affair?" one might report this as:
    She asked who knew about the affair.

    The present tense of the direct speech has been backshifted to the preterite of the reported speech.

    May 20, 2011

  • Blaff, my sense is that there is no difference in usage, if you mean that the same person would say or write"toward" in certain contexts and "towards" in other contexts. Certainly there is no difference in meaning. As an editor I have no qualms about changing "towards" to "toward" in any context (except in quoted material) -- or vice versa, depending on the style sheet I am using. The same is true for me with regard to other -ward/-wards words. The one exception that springs to mind is the adjective untoward (e.g. "untoward behavior"); I would never use this with an -s. But for me "backward thinking" and "backwards thinking" are equally correct; it all depends on the style sheet.

    Curiously, though, I don't think I would ever use "forwards" as an adjective: "forwards thinking" definitely sounds wrong to me. But that might just be me.

    May 19, 2011

  • There is a strong bias for edited text with Google Ngrams (its results are based on books, newspapers, and magazines), and I suspect that these results are partly, maybe largely, due to the fact that the AP stylebook, among others, insists on -ward spellings. In the spoken language and in non-edited or informal texts, I wonder if you will find the same sharp preference for toward among US speakers. It is not at all unusual for Americans to say towards. Speaking personally, as a Baltimore-born copyeditor trained to follow AP, I usually writetoward, but I believe I have always tended to use towards in my speech.

    May 19, 2011

  • Excellent list, Ptero. I have "favorited" it – which I rarely do.

    May 19, 2011

  • The first list I created that I cared about. It's here.

    May 18, 2011

  • The first list I cared about was "fibrous words", and the first word I commented on (with a citation) was ilex, but I can't figure out what me very first word was, perhaps inveigle.

    May 18, 2011

  • I came across this word in an unusual way. I was looking for an alternative to the word "look" (in the sense of a "look" into a certain world), and the MS Word Thesaurus gave me "shufti" on its list of synonyms. I had never encountered this word before, but apparently it is British slang (originally military slang) meaning "a quick look around".

    May 18, 2011

  • ſufferin' ſuccotaſh!

    May 18, 2011

  • Just as you cannot step twice into the same river (as Heraclitus said), you cannot read the same poem more than once – although you can not read the same poem many times over.

    May 16, 2011

  • Thanks, Yarb, and everyone, for contributing to this topic. I'm particularly interested because in the last year or so I've been getting more requests to translate things into British English, and I thought this might mean not only writing "colour" and "analyse" but also things like "whilst" and "amongst", which goes against my American grain. But now I will revert happily to using "while" and "among" in such texts.

    May 16, 2011

  • Yarb, do you think "whilst" carries any particular marking? Does it sound especially posh or Etonian to you? Would you be surprised to hear a teenager say it in normal speech?

    May 16, 2011

  • Thanks, friend.

    May 15, 2011

  • One of the meanings of "stock" is the broth made from boiling something (meat, bones, vegetables), which is then used as the basis for a soup, gravy, or sauce. Hence, "sauce stock".

    May 15, 2011

  • PU, you have probably been reading a mix of British- and US-published books. No one in the US, as far as I know, uses single quotation marks (or "inverted commas", as the Brits like to call them) to indicate first-level quotations; the single quotation marks are used (in the US) only for quotes within quotes (i.e. second-level quotations), as in: PU cited the example, "Bilby said, 'My ears are stuck!' "

    As for the question of dots and spaces, first I think it is important to distinguish between using ellipsis to indicate omission of content and using it to indicate an unfinished thought or sentence. The example Ruzuzu offers sounds to me like an unfinished sentence, not omission of content. In this case I would use space, three spaced periods, space:

    "Then bilby got his ears caught in the frivolous blades of the . . ."

    Unless I am forced to use the "ellipsis symbol" MS Word devised, where they scrunch the three periods together in the most unnatural way. Then the space after the word looks strange. So I scrunch the symbol right up to the word:

    "Then bilby got his ears caught in the frivolous blades of the…"

    In the case of omission of content, it all depends where that omitted content was. If it was in the middle of the sentence, then I use space, three spaced periods, space:

    "Then bilby got his ears caught in the . . . blades of the Wordnik copter. What did he expect? The ears were never seen again."

    If it comes at the end of the sentence, then I use space, three spaced periods, space, sentence-final period:

    "Then bilby got his ears caught in the frivolous blades . . . . What did he expect? The ears were never seen again."

    If the omitted text comes after the end of a sentence, then I put in the sentence-final period, space, three spaced dots, space:

    "Then bilby got his ears caught in the frivolous blades of the Wordnik copter. . . . The ears were never seen again."

    Of course, in both combinations (sentence period + ellipsis; ellipsis + sentence period), MS Word's scrunched up ellipsis makes things ugly, so I use period, space, ellipsis symbol, space for both:

    "Then bilby got his ears caught in the frivolous blades. … What did he expect? The ears were never seen again."

    "Then bilby got his ears caught in the frivolous blades of the Wordnik copter. … The ears were never seen again."


    May 15, 2011

  • I've come to think of the "-st" forms as standard for Brits because so many of the British-English texts I edit use them. But I just ran some Google n-gram searches on while/whilst, among/amongst, and amid/amidst for British English, and in all cases the non-st form dominates, though the showings for the -st forms are also quite healthy. When I ran the same searches for American English, the presence of the forms "whilst" and "amongst" is almost at 0 in the latter half of the 20th century (they had greater use in the 19th century), while "amidst" is still fairly competive with "amid".

    More comparisons should probably be done to make any definite conclusion, but my sense is that the "-st" forms exist as acceptable unmarked alternatives in British English, without any feeling that they are pretentious.

    As for my comment about commas, in British practice, the comma and period normally go outside the quotation marks (whether single or double) when quoting anything less than a complete sentence. Examples:

    British style: There is considerable discussion at Wordnik about the "frivolous misuse of Australians". (The period goes outside the partial quote.)

    American style: There is considerable discussion at Wordnik about the "frivolous misuse of Australians." (The period goes inside the partial quote – illogically, because it does not belong to the quotation, but Americans like the way it looks anyway.)

    but both British and American styles find the following acceptable:
    Pterodactyl commented, "I feel a need to do something frivolous with Australians." (The period goes inside because it is part of the complete sentence that is being quoted.)

    May 15, 2011

  • I believe that "whilst", "amongst" and "amidst" are all quite standard in British English (like putting a comma after a quotation mark), without any of that aura of pretentiousness or foppishness that makes Americans groan and giggle.

    May 14, 2011

  • Hans + device = hand device, maybe? Pro?

    May 11, 2011

  • peace?

    May 11, 2011

  • arrest

    May 10, 2011

  • That's interesting, Pro. Since the Slovenes and Italians are neighbors, and there are a lot of Italian and Friulian expressions that have made their way into Slovene, I would not have expected the same idiom to have such radically different meanings. I wonder how many faux pas have been committed in the border regions around Trieste and Gorizia.

    Ruzuzu, the similarity is not surprising; the Baltic and Slavic languages are fairly close cousins.

    May 10, 2011

  • lit. "to hold a candle for someone": to expect that someone who is sick will die soon: "… so mati tako oslabeli, da smo jim že držali svečo" (A. Ingolič, "Splavar Franc Vitužnik") / "… Mother had gotten so weak, we knew she didn't have long to live."

    May 10, 2011

  • In the popular media, in relation to Pakistani governement agencies, the only two possible explanations for bin Laden's being able to live safely in Abbotabad for the past five years.

    May 10, 2011

  • Thanks, Pro. I do poke my nose in from time to time. Hope you're doing well.

    May 9, 2011

  • Thanks for noticing, RT! I do miss the place and the old regulars, as well. So it's nice to stop by once in a while. And the word list function is very useful for me. But I think it was easier to make and maintain a word list, especially a non-English one, on Wordie than it is on Wordnik. Maybe that is something I need to bring up with someone (John?).

    May 1, 2011

  • No, indeed, you wouldn't want to confuse them.

    May 1, 2011

  • izlúžiti to extract

    izlúžen extracted

    May 1, 2011

  • žvrkljáti to beat, whisk (e.g. eggs); to make a gurgling or squeaking sound

    Related words:
    razžvrkljáti: to beat thoroughly

    May 1, 2011

  • žr'klja whisk, beater (traditional wooden utensil)

    May 1, 2011

  • kozíca pan for cooking, stewing, and frying (also ponev)

    May 1, 2011

  • Here are a couple more words with Slavic origins: pistol and gherkin. Feel free to pilfer from my slavonicisms list.

    March 23, 2011

  • In colloquial Slovene: "of course, certainly" (from German Gewiss)

    March 8, 2011

  • In Slovene, this word means "being", as in the Slovene name of Heidegger's Bit in čas (Being and Time). And, it's a feminine noun with -ø ending in the nominative singular and -í ending in the genitive singular!

    March 8, 2011

  • animal pen, usually surrounded by a mortarless stone wall or hedge.

    March 2, 2011

  • slush (plundra).

    March 2, 2011

  • Actually, until is long for till. "Till" came first.

    February 28, 2011

  • postávljam se s čim pred kom, nad čim, nedov.; postáviti se, dov. to flaunt, show off; put oneself above someone, think oneself superior to someone
    postávljam se komu po robu, nedov. to oppose someone, set oneself against someone

    February 13, 2011

  • ubádam se s čem, nedov. struggle with, grapple with, have a hard time with

    February 13, 2011

  • kolobócija confusion, mess, disorder; predicament, problem

    February 13, 2011

  • I just finished reading Armistead Maupin's latest extension to his classic Tales of the City series, Mary Ann in Autumn. It was what I expected: eminently devourable in a day, a low-calorie treat. But it made me realize that, for me and I think for many gay men of my age, 28 Barbary Lane is indeed a state of mind, the home of our "logical" family (as Mrs. Madrigal puts it), where people accept us, care about us, put up with us, understand us, and forgive us our failings. And we all become better for it.

    February 9, 2011

  • For this name's use as a byword, see dulcinea.

    February 5, 2011

  • This word often slips my mind in the sense of "leap", e.g. "With her new novel, she has vaulted to the top ranks of pedestrian writers."

    February 3, 2011

  • "Ah! If we could only do what we wished!" her friend Mrs. Forman cries wistfully at one point in the story, thus giving voice … to the straitjacket morality that sentences poor Mr. Lucas to a rancorous and pettish dotage.

    – David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell, "Introduction", in E. M. Forster, Selected Stories, (New York: Penguin, 2001), xvii; discussing Forster's story "The Road from Colonus".

    February 3, 2011

  • I just read that this word originates in the Slavic languages, which I hadn't realized. It came into English from German (Pistole), which took it from the Czech word pišt'ala, which means "whistle, flute, wind instrument" – cf. Russian пищаль / pishchal', Slovene piščal, Polish piszczel, piszczałka, all of which refer to a (potentially) musical wind instrument. The ultimate Slavic root is pisk- ("a whistling sound"), which may be related to the English word "pipe", both probably deriving from the onomatopoetic PIE root pi-.

    January 29, 2011

  • Well, with words that no one really uses or understands, it is not surprising that the only citations available are those that explain what the word means.

    January 19, 2011

  • Yes, a nice word. But one of the failings of the definitions that Wordnik provides from other sources (e.g. The Century Dictionary) is that it leaves out usage tags and citations. This word, for instance, is marked as "rare" by the Century Dictionary, which also supplies the following wonderful citation from R. Whitlock's Zootomia:

    "In short, a suist and selfe-projector (so far as known) is one the world would not care how soon he were gone; and when gone one that heaven will never receive; for thither I am sure he cometh not that would (like him) go thither alone."

    January 19, 2011

  • This is the source of the name Odeon (Odéon), which was given to major theaters in Paris, Vienna, and other European capitals.
    Not to be confused with odium!

    January 1, 2011

  • Thanks for your suggestion of shrapnel to my Surprisingly Eponymous list! Sorry it's taken me 9 months to respond.

    December 28, 2010

  • What idiot wrote that definition?

    December 23, 2010

  • … and another rather obvious one: googol and Google and Gogol

    December 22, 2010

  • tesla and Tulsa? joule and jowl? And in the spirit of the holidays: centiliter and Santa litter

    December 22, 2010

  • Czech (if given a pretentious, quasi-native pronunciation, of course)

    December 17, 2010

  • I've been out of the country for a decade, so maybe I'm out of touch. But essentially what I hear in McFadden's usage is something like, "Oh, what a stunning war!" And that seems strange. I'm not saying his usage is incorrect; I understand what he means. And there is nothing wrong with describing the AfPak complexity in a way that points to its ability to render one dazed and senseless. The problem here is the dissonance with the more common figurative sense of "stunning", since complexity can also be astoundingly beautiful. In a different context, I wouldn't do this kind of double take, e.g. "Mr. Knightley's stunning rebuke of her treatment of Miss Bates caused Emma to question her judgement about many other things as well."

    There is also the problem of mixing metaphors: Can one wrestle with something that is stunning? Isn't the implication of "stunning" – even in its figurative uses – that it leaves you incapacitated, unable to act, speechless (not a good thing for a diplomat, by the way)?

    I also thought McFadden's use of the word smacked of a certain journalistic pretentiousness. All of this is just my opinion, my feeling about it. And apparently none of y'all felt that way. Which is fine. But it makes me wonder if I need to adjust my language antennae.

    December 16, 2010

  • Still, "stunning complexity" is not the best choice if you feel no admiration for the complexity. The first meaning the OED gives is the literal meaning of the word. McFadden did not intend to say that the complexity of the situation literally knocks people out in the way a "stunning blow to the head" would. He was trying to use the word figuratively and in this sense was employing a new meaning of the word, one not listed by the OED: "extremely difficult, daunting, challenging." This would be fine if there did not already exist an established figurative meaning of the word "stunning", which the OED duly records as its second definition: "excellent, first-rate, 'splendid', delightful, etc.". So because we know from news reports that the complexity of the Afghan situation is not delightful, we are left with a certain feeling of dissonance from this collocation: it does not mean the same thing it does in, for example, the phrase: "the stunning complexity of Bach's polyphony." So I find McFadden's usage of the word strange – unless, of course, he meant to say, literally, that the complexity of the situation left Holbrooke dazed, unable to reason, unconscious.

    December 16, 2010

  • I find the following usage of the word strange:

    "More recently, Mr. Holbrooke wrestled with the stunning complexity of Afghanistan and Pakistan: how to bring stability to the region while fighting a resurgent Taliban and coping with corrupt governments, rigged elections, fragile economies, a rampant narcotics trade, nuclear weapons in Pakistan, and the presence of Al Qaeda, and presumably Osama bin Laden, in the wild tribal borderlands."

    – From the Robert D. McFadden's article on the late Richard Holbrooke, New York Times, 13 Dec 2010.

    Here McFadden uses "stunning" to mean something like "extremely daunting", but the word inevitably adds a note of admiration for the complexity of situation, which I find strange. Is this a fairly new usage? Pretentious/hip journalese?

    December 14, 2010

  • "China's moves to distance itself from Kim are revealed in the latest tranche of leaked US embassy cables published by the Guardian and four international newspapers."
    – Simon Tisdall, "Wikileaks cables reveal China 'ready to abandon North Korea'", The Guardian, 29 November 2010

    November 30, 2010

  • Thanks, C_B. I missed you, too. And Wordie. But I never really got used to Wordnik, I guess, like having to check both capitalized and uncapitalized versions of words. But as a German noun, this one properly needs its capital, I think.

    November 3, 2010

  • German for "attempt on the life of the Hottentot prince's aunt".

    November 3, 2010

  • Hi, Reesetee! How about matrix, executrix, and editrix?

    October 31, 2010

  • I don't think I would describe a house as "vacuous" -- a face, an expression, a mind, yes, but not a house. For a house I would use the word "vacant". In fact, checking the Oxford American Dictionary, I see that, under "vacuous", the meaning "empty" is marked as "archaic".

    October 31, 2010

  • "Job is a monotheist but not an Israelite; he lives in 'the land of Uz,' which Alter glosses as 'a never-never land somewhere to the east.'
    – Adam Kirsch, "Counter-Revelations", review of The Wisdom Books, new translations of Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes by Robert Alter (Norton & Co.), on The New Republic book review website "The Book", http://www.tnr.com/book/review/counter-revelations-wisdom-books-robert-alter

    October 26, 2010

  • I was looking for a single word that could translate the Slovene word poneumljati, "to make stupid", and found this. Unfortunately, it is not listed in dictionaries of current English, so I decided against using it. Instead, I chose the locution "dull the mind of ..." But what a great, and timely word! It needs to be revived. Contemporary society needs this word!

    October 26, 2010

  • A word I want to remember when I have to translate the Slovene sled, as an alternative to trace, which has become overused in post-Derridean theoretical writings.

    September 6, 2010

  • I like the fact that in Slovene up (a noun) means "hope".

    August 24, 2010

  • In Ljubljana Castle, the Kazemate – Casemates, in the plural – have been turned into a hall for art exhibitions and concerts.

    August 20, 2010

  • to pull someone's hair; to quarrel

    August 16, 2010

  • In Slovene, šetraj. My boyfriend discovered this herb growing wild on the island of Brač.

    July 18, 2010

  • This word came into English via Dutch or German from the Polish word for "cucumber", ogorek.

    June 17, 2010

  • kotalíti, -lím; kotalèč
    to roll (sthg)
    kotalíti se
    to move along awkwardly, with difficulty; shuffle, toddle, waddle, etc.

    June 16, 2010

  • prekúcniti, -nem; prekúcnjen
    to overturn, topple; to revolutionize

    Related words:
    prekúc – overturning, somersault
    prekucíja – revolution, coup

    June 16, 2010

  • lit., "the chimney sweep becomes the master" - a reversal of roles.

    June 9, 2010

  • to slam shut; from drlesk, a loud sharp noise.

    June 9, 2010

  • merciless, remorseless

    February 13, 2010

  • a possible synonym would be neusmiljen, "merciless, remorseless".

    February 13, 2010

  • Apparently, "Eskimo" is a Red Indian Native American Indigenous American Algonquinian word meaning "raw-flesh eaters", a term one might justifiably use for people who enjoy sushi or steak tartare, so I am not sure why it would be offensive. Certainly, when I was growing up in Baltimore in the 1960s and 1970s, I never heard used in any way that was intended to cause offense. When I lived in Canada in the 1980s, I learned that the indigenous dwellers of the Canadian Arctic preferred to be known as Inuit, while those who lived in Alaska preferred to be called Eskimos, at least by non-Inuktitut-speakers. Perhaps this was because they didn't want people to botch the pronunciation of their ethnonym or because it got on their nerves when someone referred to one of them as "an Inuit" since "Inuit" is a plural form and this should properly be "an Inuk". In any case, there was no suggestion that "Eskimo" was offensive, just that it was not what they called themselves. It annoys me that people get so sensitive when it is clear that no offense is intended. Is it insulting to refer to Angela Merkel as a "German", for example, when she calls herself a "Deutsche"? Should we refer to Japanese people as "Nihonjin"?

    December 27, 2009

  • Yes, milord! What a fine-looking judicial owl. Thanks, Bilby, for brightening my day (and not for the first time)!

    December 23, 2009

  • It's ironic that this little punctuation mark, which is simply trying to bring things together in order to avoid misunderstandings, should be so divisive.

    December 23, 2009

  • I had thought that this word must have originally referred to a Polish dance, but apparently the dance originated in Bohemia and the name derives from the Czech word půlka (of which polka would be an earlier spelling), meaning "half-step".

    December 23, 2009

  • I don't think it's English, gangerh. Some of those hits may be from faulty hyphenations of enervate and coacervate. Where'd you find 55,500 search results for this word? I get only about 7,500 hits on Google.

    December 14, 2009

  • Ru, it's more the case that hello became a short way of saying "How do you do?" some eighty years ago. And, I'm told, in good British society, the proper reply to "How do you do?" is "How do you do?": it's a polite formal greeting, not a question about the state of one's well-being. But today, the polite way to respond to the greeting, "How are you?" is, as you say, "Fine, thanks." But "Good, thanks," works too, meaning, "the present condition of my life is good, i.e. it's nothing for you to worry about, but thanks for showing even this formal interest."

    December 14, 2009

  • Wait a sec. Karel Čapek wasn't a robot; he just invented the word.

    December 8, 2009

  • Shouldn't this be Sovietesque? The suffix -esque usually does not involve clipping final letters/phonemes.

    December 8, 2009

  • If you're referring to the author of Alice in Wonderland, that's Lewis Carroll, with two l's.

    December 6, 2009

  • There is a similar correspondance in the Slavic languages between muscles and mice, e.g. Russian мышца (myshtsa, "muscle") / мышь (mysh', "mouse"); and Slovene mišica ("muscle") / miš ("mouse"), where the suffixes -tsa, -ica form diminutives.

    December 5, 2009

  • another curious etymology belongs to muscle.

    December 5, 2009

  • And what would you say to a cute guy in a gay bar?

    December 5, 2009

  • But reesetee, cummingtonite doesn't sound awful at all; it sounds like something to look forward to.

    December 5, 2009

  • That's the same thing you call a broken middle finger in Queens.

    December 2, 2009

  • Thanks, I should have gotten that, but then, I'm not British, so "bloody" doesn't necessarily spring to mind. WTFH would be my dialect.
    But now I'm wondering if WTBHAG is a sweet tooth fairy?

    December 2, 2009

  • I've got a question for you on WTBH.

    December 2, 2009

  • I have seen Prolagus use this a couple of times and am curious about what it means. I could probably look it up in Urban Dictionary, but there's no immediate link and I'm not fully awake yet. So I'll just ask.

    My first guess would be: "What's The Big Hurry", but that doesn't fit the circs, so then, remembering BHAG (wasn't that "Big Hairy-Assed Goal"?), I thought, "What The Big Hairy". That took me to "What The Big Harry", but then, who the f--k is Harry? But maybe this is short for WTBHAD: What's The Big Hairy-Assed Deal?. I'm feeling lost.

    December 2, 2009

  • John, I suspected this was the case and that they weren't lost forever. I am in no rush at the moment, but PNs are a useful tool for noting information about a foreign word (stress, declensions, peculiarities) that would not be of interest to the general Wordnikkery. I don't need them right away, though, but if you think you'll get to them in the next couple of months, that would be dandy.

    December 2, 2009

  • well done, Gangerh, FrogApplause and Co.! I am very impressed.

    December 2, 2009

  • Ta, Bil.

    December 1, 2009

  • A few bugs are still lurking in my lists with regard to non-Western Roman characters:
    - In pre-Transition entries, the Slovene letter "č" still appears as an unknown character (like this: �?).
    - In text describing the list, characters such as "í", "š", and, again, "č" are misencoded (they look like this, respectively: Ã, Å¡, Ä). Curiously, "i" and "š" appear correctly in other environments. (See the list slo: fem. nouns with sg. nom. ending -ø, gen. -í.
    - None of my private notes seem to have survived the crossing. These were particularly important to me because they contained a great deal of morphological information about Slovene words, stuff that I didn't want to bore my fellow Wordies with. Can they be found and revived? Or are they lost forever?

    Finally, let me say that the Transition has gone rather well. I am impressed, as always, with John's amazing responsiveness and patience (indeed, forbearance) and am glad that he now has a team of able assistants. Wordnik is not yet the breezy pleasure that Wordie was (most of the time), but it is moving in that direction.

    December 1, 2009

  • Enough with the portmanteaux, please! Who started this juvenile craze? I can't open a webpage without seeing somebody's latest attempt to add a purportedly clever compact neologism to the dictionary. Are people so much in a hurry that they feel it imperative to use one neologistic, barely comprehensible word, a word that usually strikes the recipient as a slip of the tongue or typo (if written), where two or three or four words would convey the intended meaning much more directly and unambiguously. If I saw "qualtify" written out or heard it spoken, my first thought would be, "The poor guy made a mistake, has a speech defect, or simply does not know how to spell."

    December 1, 2009

  • What or who is JKR, PotentiallyEmphatic?

    December 1, 2009

  • I would interpret the first sentence MM offers as referring to more than one series, e.g. "The three Star Trek series were on for years before being cancelled." In other words, "series" is not a pluralis tantum word (if that's the right expression) like "scissors" or "bifocals", where the plural form denotes a single referent. It is a singular noun ending in -s that has a ø-inflection in the plural.

    December 1, 2009

  • I would vote for doing away with autocomplete entirely. It's really annoying.

    November 29, 2009

  • I just realized this is a back-formation from self-destruction. After all, there is no word "to destruct". Doesn't someone have a list of back-formations where this belongs?

    November 28, 2009

  • Thanks, John!

    November 26, 2009

  • I expect today's colloquial expression, as in: "That Madge, she's a real piece of work!" comes from the sense of someone who is complex or complicated, not easy to figure out. This is an ironic twist on a phrase whose origin is almost certainly Shakespeare (Hamlet, II, ii): "What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!"

    November 25, 2009

  • They're not synonyms, Oro; at least in my understanding, synonyms all have to belong to the same language. But they do happen to be cognates; hence the similarity.

    November 23, 2009

  • I would say that the -ware words (silverware, hardware, earthenware) all tend to be collective nouns and take singular verbs. That doesn't mean, however, that someone cannot distinguish between different "softwares" (in the sense of different "kinds/species of software", not different individual programs) and be perfectly well understood. But this would be an anomalous usage.

    November 22, 2009

  • A city in Askatchewan.

    November 22, 2009

  • If Wordnik weren't capital-equipped, I would guess this was Bol, a beautiful beach on the Dalmatian island of Brač.

    November 22, 2009

  • The venerable Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika (Dictionary of Standard Slovene) provides the following definition for this adjective (I translate): "being composed of tiny, small particles that do not cling to each other"; it gives the examples sipek pesek ("?? sand"), sipek sneg ("?? snow"). I suppose powdery would work (esp. for "snow"), but is there another word that conveys this sense of tiny, non-viscous dry particles that can slip through your fingers? The expression I needed to translate was "sipek čas" ("?? time"), which clearly meant to evoke the sand in an hourglass. Unable to think of a suitable adjective, I decided on "time slipping away".

    November 22, 2009

  • FB, thanks for the answer about the log-out. Now another bug, relating to encoding. In words entered in the Wordie Age, the Central European character "č" (c+caron) appears like this: �? (e.g. mrš�?iti), which makes these words impossible to look up. Can this be fixed?

    And a related question: in the first days after the Great Transition, I tried to fix the names of two of my lists which contain problematic characters, namely the aforementioned "č" and the Russian letter "я". I was able to rename the lists with a visible "č" character, but now they are unopenable. Clicking on them takes me to the following URLs, both redirecting me to Not-Found-Land (I feel like I've arrived in Goosed Bay). Here are the list names and the URLs

    Pogovorno: Zoran Hočevar, Rožencvet: http://www.wordnik.com/lists/pogovorno-zoran-hočevar-i-rožencvet-i
    i~je~я~ich~jaz: http://www.wordnik.com/lists/i-je-я-ich-jaz

    Any help would be appreciated.

    November 22, 2009

  • About my pronunciations: I didn't see how to preview them. But in any case, I think my microphone is fried. I am enjoying your pronunciations, by the way.

    November 22, 2009

  • Prolagus (thanks, Pro) suggested I place this comment here instead of on bugs:

    Here's a peculiar bug. I clicked on the Blog, which mentioned an interesting list I thought I'd check out, so I clicked on the list, and when I went to comment on it I discovered I was no longer signed in! Seems like the Blog is the EXIT door.

    November 21, 2009

  • And, Classically, ars means "art" in Latin. In Slovenia, Radio Slovenia 3, which features mainly classical music and high-culture programming, is called, Radio Ars, which used to crack me up (no pun intended). And their is an upscale chain of shoe stores in Ljubljana, which is also called ARS. Shoecabbages, indeed.

    November 21, 2009

  • Here's a peculiar bug. I clicked on the Blog, which mentioned an interesting list I thought I'd check out, so I clicked on the list, and when I went to comment on it I discovered I was no longer signed in! Seems like the Blog is the EXIT door.

    November 20, 2009

  • Are wordknickers now available from the merchandising department? I'd buy me a pair. Boxers, please.

    November 20, 2009

  • I would question only the inclusion of commercial names, such as Fiat, Time, and Life, which would basically mean you would include any word that had a magazine or newspaper named after it (Look/look, Times/times, Sun/sun etc.).

    November 19, 2009

  • Great list, Ru! I love "Tangier/tangier" – never considered that before.

    November 19, 2009

  • Doesn't someone have a list of words that are waiting to be defined? Any suggestions for this one?

    November 19, 2009

  • I have always pronounced this to rhyme with "acid", and I see that the New Oxford American Dictionary acknowledges both pronunciations.

    November 19, 2009

  • How do I know that this doesn't refer to men seceding from something, or to a procession of men, or to men ceasing to exist (a "man-cessation"), or if I simply hear it, to a session of some body at which women are excluded. This tendency to form portmanteau words at the drop of a hat (at a drat!?) really gets my billygoat gruff. No problem, if it's done in jest, but when people start acting like these are serious words, I start getting a little scared.

    November 18, 2009

  • This almost makes sense. Boston, aka "Beantown" (from the poor Irish immigrants there who made their diet on baked beans, which later became famous in their own right) used to be a very Catholic, very conservative place, so the more risqué traveling theater shows proudly touted that they were "Banned in Boston", but they might have said as well: "Beantown banned it!"

    November 18, 2009

  • Pro, pretty much any English noun can become a verb – can be verbed, as some would say illustratively – not that that's always a good thing. Please don't umbrage me for saying that.

    November 18, 2009

  • Oroboros, for anyone who loves etymology and morphology, that word is like fingernails on a blackboard. What is -nypo- supposed to mean?

    November 18, 2009

  • A movie that gives a very different meaning to the term "couch potato".

    November 17, 2009

  • John, in the first day or so of the Transition, where problems with text-encoding did strange things with my list names, I tried to fix two of them, but only ended up sending these two to the Province of Not-Found-Land. The two lists in question are titled "Pogovorno: Zoran Hočevar, Rožencvet" and "i~je~я~ich~jaz". Can they be fixed? Also, the letter "č" ("c" with a caron) still appears in list names and pre-Transition words as "�?". Can I fix this myself in the list names, or will I only screw things up?

    November 17, 2009

  • And she does it on her back.

    November 13, 2009

  • On case-sensitivity: I like the idea of putting the different variants together. After all, sometimes the gap between the uppercased form and the lowercased form is not as wide as in Polish/polish: "The august ruler was born in August." "She enjoyed a cheese danish in the Danish capital." "The morocco-bound tome was shipped to Morocco." "After our turkey dinner, I went with my friend from Turkey to see the latest Tom Cruise flick, and I couldn't believe I paid 12 bucks to see that turkey."

    November 12, 2009

  • Is this a good place to leave general comments -- or point out bugs -- about the transition?
    I just clicked on the word celadon and noticed that my list "paintboxes and rainbows" was not one of the lists noted in the sidebar. And yet, this word is indeed on that list. Will old Wordie lists be listed as listing words in the list sidebar of the Comments section? (Yes, I am trying to see how many forms of the word "list" I can use in one sentence; it's called polyptoton.)

    November 12, 2009

  • Oops, but now, when I tried to fix a couple more list titles ("i~je~я~ich~jaz" and "pogovorno: Zoran Hočevar, Rožencvet") and then clicked on them, I get the "Not found" page.

    November 11, 2009

  • By the way, I see that the "č" appears correctly in the comment I just wrote here. And I was able to fix the title of my list "slovenščina" simply by retyping the "č". So I am feeling hopeful.

    November 11, 2009

  • Thanks for your comment, John. I'm impressed that things look as much like Wordie as they do. I am sure you will keep trying to work out all the bugs, including the apparent difficulties imposed by the Cyrillic alphabet and even certain characters in the Central European Latin alphabets (like "č"). It is amusing that Hindi and Chinese characters should appear in my "slovenščina" list. When I click on such words, I get the message, "Disallowed key characters in global data", which curiously points to the different meanings of the word global. Good luck with finding an effective bug spray.

    November 11, 2009

  • "Marshall aid" refers to money the United States made available to European countries for rebuilding after World War II. The plan was designed by the U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, hence the name.

    November 10, 2009

  • pl. glandes (two syllables), thus, "They delighted in rubbing their glandes together" scans as an anapestic tetrameter.

    November 10, 2009

  • Hi, Ru, sorry to take so long in replying. I can't help you with the origin of the Czech ano, I'm sorry to say. Historically, the Slavic "yes" was da, though in some languages, under the influence of German (I'm guessing), it became ja (in Slovene) or jo (in colloquial Czech).

    November 10, 2009

  • Slovene and other South Slavic languages, sort of like Georgian I suppose, have an affix to indicate place. In the case of Slovene, it's the suffix -iš�?e:

    igriš�?e – "playground" or "playing field", from the verb igrati, "to play";
    pokopališ�?e – "cemetery", from the verb pokopati, "to bury";
    letališ�?e - "airport", from the noun letalo, "airplane", which comes from the verb letati, "to fly";
    težiš�?e – "center of gravity", from the verb težiti, "to be heavy, to weigh down on";
    gledališ�?e – "theater", from the verb gledati, "to look".

    This last is particularly interesting in comparison with its Croatian counterpart, kazalište, "theater", from kazati, "to show" (an older meaning; in modern Croatian, this means "to say").

    November 10, 2009

  • I was copyediting a text today and came across this expression and thought, "Why, that's a Sweet Tooth Fairy! No, wait, it's a Perfect Sweet Tooth Fairy!"

    November 10, 2009

  • Do you mean you hate strawberries (the plural of "strawberry") or some store/café/place of business called "Strawberry's"?

    November 7, 2009

  • an alternative spelling of inure.

    November 6, 2009

  • Great! I'm adding this to my "pocketful of -ry" list.

    October 31, 2009

  • It's enow or enever, Milo.

    October 31, 2009

  • The ruthless plundering of place names is an ancient practice.

    October 31, 2009

  • I would say it's a good example, moll.

    October 30, 2009

  • Sure, Pro, take whatever you need.

    October 29, 2009

  • MM, the "might" referred to the possibility of your disdaining not only the bigots (which I am sure you do) but also the overanxious liberals who worry about never offending anyone, even those who would like to implement Shariah law in Ontario. By the way, I never take umbrage; there's so much of it around that it's pretty near worthless to me.

    October 29, 2009

  • My ad hoc coinage for a symbol composed of punctuation marks, often called "emoticon", a word I cannot love (I'm not especially fond of the phenomenon itself either).

    October 29, 2009

  • Well, it did occur to me that MM might (justifiably, perhaps) disdain both the bigots on Youtube and the so-called "pussies" (sorry, C_b; I know, people who use the word "pussies" like this are dicks) whose zeal for multiculturalism extends even to considering whether to allow the practice of Shariah law (which is a current issue in Canada, which I believe is where MM grew up). And there is, by the way, plenty of evidence that Miss Mouth has a fondness for provocative, non–politically correct words and phrases. My point was merely to register a dislike for the whole "dangerous agenda" argument. I certainly am not interested in policing any Wordie content. But part of the freedom of Wordie is the freedom to say "I don't like this and here's why" without anyone feeling like they're being either censored or censured.

    October 29, 2009

  • There is a similar thing in Slovene (and other Slavic languages), whereby certain place names take the preposition "na" (lit. "on/at"), while most take the preposition "v" ("in"). The most interesting example, perhaps, is with the city of Vienna, which in Slovene is called Dunaj, a name that comes from the old Slavic name of the Danube River. So one says, e.g. Živijo v Berlinu ("They live in Berlin") but Živijo na Dunaju ("They live in Vienna"). With the latter, the original idea was that one was saying, "They live on the Danube", which obviously meant in the capital of the empire.

    October 29, 2009

  • an elaboration on Bilby's stations of the crossword puzzle.

    October 29, 2009

  • I am familiar with this from rail travel – which, I guess, would be train stations of the crossword puzzle.

    October 29, 2009

  • Well, MM, you should put it in quotation marks if it's a quote; that would at least indicate that it is not necessarily your view. I admit that I don't know how to interpret the punctoglyph "-_-": does that mean sarcasm?

    Unfortunately, with political and social discourse in America (especially, and of course especially on the Internet) sinking to new depths everyday, it's getting more and more difficult to tell the difference between sarcasm, hyperbole, intentional insult, strategic prevarication, disinformation, sheer ignorance and downright nastiness. What tends to stand out, however, because it's so rare, is serious, respectful, informed and well-considered comment.

    October 29, 2009

  • No prob. I'm nothing if not helpful.

    October 29, 2009

  • I object to the whole clause "who are letting their country get taken over by the Islamic Agenda"; I remember when people started talking about the "gay agenda". The fact is that the people who talk in such terms are usually doing so to promote their own agenda of fear- and hate-mongering, as a way of ensuring that people who think like them (i.e. narrow-mindedly, selfishly, unimaginatively, naively) stay in charge of things.

    October 28, 2009

  • Elixir? 'E 'ardly knows 'er!

    October 27, 2009

  • What is that famous Italian (I think it's Italian) saying that goes something like "the translator is a traitor" or "translation is betrayal"? I bet you know it, Pro.

    October 23, 2009

  • I don't see what's paratactic about the example the reviewer cites.

    October 23, 2009

  • A girl with a roving eye.

    October 22, 2009

  • The standard spelling is aurochs, which is both the singular and plural forms of this word: one aurochs, two aurochs, many aurochs.

    October 22, 2009

  • A curious case in which the combination oy is pronounced as two separate vowels.

    October 22, 2009

  • Btw, I once had a brilliant professor who was Czech. He generally spoke excellent English, but in one lecture at least he kept referring th "haffazard" events (with the stress on the third syllable). I should perhaps have quietly informed him of the correct pronunciation after the lecture, but it was so cute I wanted to start saying it myself.

    October 22, 2009

  • Theory (a) seems like clever retrofitting. Back in the day (my day, the early 90s), in bars you tended to hear "twinkie" (perhaps because sweet and empty-headed = sweet and empty calories?) as much as "twink"; the short form really developed more as a category of porn on the internet (where character is rarely evident) than as a description of a certain kind of actual person.

    October 21, 2009

  • Should she really be punished for what her children did?

    October 21, 2009

  • Stupid severed head.

    October 21, 2009

  • Isn't scissors a pluralis tantum? "The scissors are lying on the table." NOT "The scissors is lying on the table."

    October 21, 2009

  • In Hindu philosophy, avatar is the bodily manifestation, or incarnation, of a released soul or deity. It's a shame how this word has become diluted, not to say cheapened, by computer jargon.

    October 21, 2009

  • In English, kh is a digraph in khan, Kharkov, and Khrushchev, where it conventionally represents the voiceless velar fricative /x/ in other languages, though in English it is usually pronounced as the voiceless velar plosive /k/.

    October 21, 2009

  • In Croatian dictionaries, Lj and Nj are listed separately, and I think that in an alphabetized list, the word lutka would come before the word ljubav (since Lj comes after L). Also you see vertical signs like this in Zagreb:

         K
         NJ
         I
         Ž
         A
         R
         A

    (knjižara - "bookstore").
    I would guess that this practice (including the treatment of the digraph as a single letter) stems from the effort to create a one-to-one correspondence between the Croatian Latin alphabet and the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet, where lj=љ, nj=њ, and dž=џ.
    Slovene, by the way, can't be bothered with Serbian Cyrillic correspondences and treats all its digraphs as two letters for the purposes of alphabetization.

    October 21, 2009

  • I've known a few of these.

    October 20, 2009

  • This is a sweet tooth fairy godmother!

    October 20, 2009

  • My guess would be that it came into English via Latin, which took it from Greek (Θωμᾶς), though orginally it's an Aramaic name meaning "twin". In any case, that "h" was part of a digraph representing the Greek letter theta.

    October 20, 2009

  • there is more than one internet?

    October 20, 2009

  • Fun list! I would question, however, the inclusion of Thomas, where "Th" is still a digraph (two letters representing one phoneme), just as "ch" is still a digraph in "character". An interesting case is threshold, where "sh" represents "sh + h".

    October 20, 2009

  • Molly is right. In Dutch, this is a digraph, two letters that together represent one phoneme. English digraphs are ch, sh, th, ph (in "phone" but not in "upholstery"), among many others. Some languages consider certain digraphs as single letters, such as Dutch with ij, German with ß (= ∫ + s), Czech with ch, Croatian with lj and nj, and Russian with ы. I don't know if there is a special term for such cases, however.

    October 20, 2009

  • HH is right: the singular form is aurochs, and according to my dictionary (useful things, dictionaries), the plural is the same, like deer. One aurochs, two aurochs, many aurochs. I would label this form a misspelling (and in fact I have done so).

    October 20, 2009

  • This also means "we pounce!" in Slovene!

    October 20, 2009

  • lit. to block, dam
    fig. to curb

    October 16, 2009

  • I can hear Bette Davis saying this.

    October 15, 2009

  • I know this is not a "proper" STF, but I couldn't resist.

    October 8, 2009

  • I came across it accidentally, when I was looking up "Valvasor" (a Slovene 17th-century polymath). It was new to me, too.

    October 8, 2009

  • I'm surprised to see that a certain history-minded bear hasn't listed this word (or vavasory) yet.

    October 7, 2009

  • lovely list. From the Slavic side of the world comes the gusli (Russian) and the similarly named but structurally different gusle (Balkan).

    October 6, 2009

  • oh wow, I didn't even think of that sense of the word. Thanks, G!

    October 6, 2009

  • Thanks for including me among your bananas, G. I suppose I always hoped my light would be a little bigger, not a macrolight, of course, but, well, something noticeable. *sigh*

    October 6, 2009

  • Interesting citation at saunterer.

    October 6, 2009

  • C'mon guys, I only eavesdrop for language-learning purposes! I would never listen in to your conversations.
    *wonders whether Strine is worth the strain*

    October 6, 2009

  • The word is ugly, but it is also mispelled (if madeupicals can be mispelled). It should logically be prestifiguratators. "Presdi-" makes no sense at all.

    October 5, 2009

  • oops. Did I say too much?

    October 5, 2009

  • I know it well. Just when you're convinced you'll never be able to learn this damned language, you suddenly find yourself eavesdropping on conversations at the next table with no trouble at all.

    October 4, 2009

  • Then there's the McDonald's version: FWT?

    October 2, 2009

  • The Glagolitic alphabet is lovely and strange. You can still come across it in parts of Croatia. In Istria they sell little ceramic Glagolitic scrolls as tourist souvenirs. The word glagol, by the way, is the Old Slavic word for "word" (today it means "verb" in most Slavic languages).

    October 1, 2009

  • You've gotta wonder why Amazon decided on this idiotic name. When I link the word "kindle" with books, I think of Nazis and book-burning. Is the idea that our old-fashioned paper books can now be used as kindling? Marketing morons.

    September 30, 2009

  • This sounds very strange to me. I would say, "till it was 15 years old". I think someone has made a mistake.

    By the way, verbs don't have cases; they have tense and mood, among other things (Slavic verbs also have aspect). The standard term is "subjunctive mood". "Case" refers to nouns: nominative, genitive, etc.

    September 30, 2009

  • Thanks, FA! I love the tag! Did you do that?

    September 29, 2009

  • The Slovene version of "Erasmus", this is a fairly popular name perhaps because of the historical Baron Erazem Predjamski, who built his castle in a cave and became known as a kind of Robin Hood figure. I gave my cat the (rather rare) female version of this name, Erazma, which seemed to me an excellent name for a cat.

    September 29, 2009

  • A name one occasionally encounters in Slovenia, perhaps because it is also the name of the hero of Slovenia's national epic (every country has one), The Baptism by the Savica (Krst pri Savici, 1835) by France Prešeren. What is strange about this name is that it means something like "devil's peace". It forms the nickname Črt, which means, yes, "evil spirit".

    September 29, 2009

  • This is the Slovene calque on Theodore: "God's gift." The short form of the name is Božo, which makes me wonder if the name is at all related to that of Bozo the Clown.

    September 29, 2009

  • bureaucracy?

    September 29, 2009

  • For a star-spangled shine!

    September 28, 2009

  • How many bottles of pine oil does it take to change a lightbulb?

    September 28, 2009

  • Who's formatting bears? Does C_b know about this?

    September 28, 2009

  • The spelling "Sara" is the "correct" (i.e. standard) spelling of this name in Slovene and other South Slavic languages.

    September 28, 2009

  • My guess would be "female to female" (as in sexual practice).

    September 28, 2009

  • I have always liked this name, but only recently did I realize that the name means "East" (in Old Slavic), and was the equivalent of the Latin name Orientius (the 5th-century St. Orientius was a poet, by the way).

    September 28, 2009

  • Also spelled eschscholzia – so much simpler.

    September 27, 2009

  • A friend of mine, who is from Fredonia, NY, told me that the Marx Brothers named the Duck Soup country Freedonia because they were upset by the bad reception they received when they did a show in Fredonia, NY, and wanted to make fun of the town.

    September 27, 2009

  • @ TheSarahEffect: Sorry to hear about the bad experience with your English teacher, who seems to feel it's her/his job to limit rather than expand your vocabulary. I wonder if your teacher knows what "esoteric" means; I certainly wouldn't use it to describe "puissant" – erudite maybe, but not "esoteric".

    I pronounce it more or less as you and Chained_bear do: two syllables: PWISS-ent (that "e" is a schwa). I think the French pronunciation would be: pü-i-SÃ, where the "ü" stands for that narrow, unrounded front-of-the-mouth "u", the "i" is as in machine, and the "ã" is a nasal "ah". But when you're speaking English, I strongly recommend using English pronunciations.

    September 24, 2009

  • C_b, I wasn't aware that "discussion" as a term had become ubiquitous on the Web. Sigh. Of course, my suggestion was meant to encourage just the opposite of ranting. For mean, discussion involves listening and consideration (in both senses of the word); it's a two-way thing, whereas "comments" and "commentary", etc., seem one-way, i.e. "let me tell you what I think about this." That said, you are right, I think, that "comments" is a fairly "neutral" word. Still it would be great if we could come up with something that did actually encourage people to discuss things, since after all Wordie has been the site of many excellent discussions, as well as fuflun-combat, and it would great if people understood that from the get-go.

    September 24, 2009

  • The least common denominator would be the most extraordinary one, wouldn't it?

    September 24, 2009

  • I think it would be great to have a separate space for actual citations, so we can see how a word is being used, and then have another place for "comments". I suppose "comments" is the standard name for such things, though I would like to see people encouraged to discuss the words and not just comment on them. I would therefore suggest "Discussion" as a header.

    September 24, 2009

  • Bilby, the question is about where the expression"I'ma/Imma/I'm'a/I'm 'a/I'm a-" comes from, and how it should be spelled, when the "a" particle indicates the immediate future tense (in standard English we would say, "I'm going to let you finish"; Kanye said, "I'm'a let you finish.")

    September 21, 2009

  • "respectable; respectability" is perhaps a good choice.

    September 21, 2009

  • This very question is currently being discussed over at Language Log, Telo. Personally, I don't like the spelling "Imma", which looks like it should rhyme with the word "dimmer" (British received pronunciation). I would vote for "I'm 'a" since it's pretty clear that the "a" is a contraction of "gonna" (I'm going to > I'm gonna > I'm 'na > I'm 'a). I'm not sure Kanye actually pronounces a double "m", but if he does this would have arisen through assimilation of the "n" in "gonna".

    September 21, 2009

  • Could it be Orson Welles on the Riesenrad of life?

    September 18, 2009

  • Shouldn't this be resurrection, HH?

    September 18, 2009

  • You hearing this, ReeseTee?

    September 16, 2009

  • Wow, thanks, MM! I didn't know about this. I love the pictures by Li Fuhong! Very Zen.

    September 16, 2009

  • Check out pamphlet. It's one of my favorite etymologies.

    September 16, 2009

  • Thanks, Fox! A lovely poem.

    September 15, 2009

  • Sounds like a great list idea, Erin! I, for one, wouldn't want to see it 86'd. Though if I wanted to nitpick, I'd say that RSVP does have vowels: ɑ�?, ɛ and i�? (twice); it just doesn't have vowel-letters.

    September 14, 2009

  • If we become Wordnikie, does that mean we're going to get a swoosh?

    September 11, 2009

  • *guffaw*
    Thanks, Froggy, for the chuckle!

    September 11, 2009

  • Fr., lit. "in yogurt". With the verb chanter this apparently means "in a kind of gibberish that approximates the lyrics", esp. when the lyrics are in a foreign language. See the discussion at Language Log.

    September 11, 2009

  • Thanks, Erin! I am feeling reassured. Ooh, but I like Molly's idea of a Lexome Project. The best of all possible words! Borges's Library of Babel but with scores of writing systems! Now that would be something.

    September 11, 2009

  • And if it is a really short song, then I guess it'd be an itsy-bitsy sitsiritsit.

    September 11, 2009

  • While I would applaud Wordnik-like efforts in other linguistic communities (Словник, Besednik, Wortnik – would the French Wordnik be named Mo'nique®, by any chance?), I'm not enthused about the idea of segregating the languages. The working language of Wordie is, by and large, English, though conversations in other tongues do occur and are in no way discouraged, but we still talk quite a lot about non-English words: what they mean, how they sound, what Beatles songs they bring to mind (see oplaziti), and so on. Will there still be a place on Wordienik for non-English words, nonce words, symbols, ideograms, glyphs, numerals, and all the different alphabets that some of us find so fascinating, delightful, comical, or horkworthy. What will happen to 42? Or will they be consigned to their own respective versions of Wordnik?

    September 11, 2009

  • I have liked Wordnik since I first discovered it a few months ago, and the upcoming amalgamation doesn't give me the jitters, not too much at least, largely because John has proved himself time and time again to astonishingly level-headed and responsible for someone who likes to call himself a slack bastard little teapot. So I trust John. And I like Wordnik. And I also know that Wordies are tenaciously protective of what we've got.

    But I do have a question. Wordnik seems to have a noticeable bias toward, well, how can I put this, English. And though I love English and even make my living from it, I also deeply appreciate Wordie's (and Wordies') openness to other languages, e.g my Slovene and Russian, as well as Indonesian, Urdu, Chinese, Georgian, a raft of Amerindian and African languages, not to mention the Madeupical tongue, beloved by many of us. So will these possibilities continue in Wordnik? Will we feel compelled to bite our many tongues? Will Wordnik become multilingual? Will it be useful for learners of foreign tongues?

    Or perhaps, Wordnik will prove even more adaptive, such as by having links to foreign-language dictionaries? That would be very neat.

    September 11, 2009

  • See citation at Emily Dickinson.

    September 8, 2009

  • And you read your Emily Dickinson
    And I my Robert Frost,
    And we note our place with bookmarkers
    That measure what we've lost.
    Like a poem poorly written
    We are verses out of rhythm,
    Couplets out of rhyme,
    In syncopated time,
    Lost in the dangling conversation
    And the superficial sighs
    Are the borders of our lives.

    – Paul Simo, "The Dangling Conversation" (1966)

    September 8, 2009

  • Asativum and Bilby, thanks for the suggestions. Lo' and Emily are added, and, via Simon and Garfunkel, Emily reminded me of another American poet whose name has become a byword, so I've added Robert Frost too. Mecca I didn't add, since although it is undoubtedly a byword, this list is reserved for personal names.

    September 8, 2009

  • I don't think having a crablouse day would make me shout Allay! One would also certainly have to question one's callowness.

    September 2, 2009

  • We met him again later, at dinner. He had a curious man with him, the Marquis of something or other. … He took us back to his house and name-dropped. '… And I was there when Madame de Gaulle made her famous gaffe, you know. Somebody asked her, "What are you looking forward to when you retire?" "I am looking forward most to a penis," she replied. After a pause somebody said, "Oh, oui, happiness, madame." '

    – Joe Orton, The Orton Diaries, ed. John Lahr (London: Methuen, 1986), 176.

    September 2, 2009

  • brilliant!

    August 25, 2009

  • How is this a sweet tooth fairy? It seems like perfectly ordinary description of La Marseillaise.

    August 22, 2009

  • But maybe you got what you needed, Bil.

    August 21, 2009

  • Saddam's full name is, according to Wikipedia (a source I distrust, but this information seems correct), Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti. The "Hussein" is actually a patronymic (his father's name) which is being used, for the convenience of the media, as a "last name". "Al-Tikriti" indicates where the family originates (the town of Tikrit). I am not sure about the "Abd al-Majid" part. I used to have an Armenian friend from Baghdad, who told me that his official Iraqi name consisted of his first name + his father's first name + his grandfather's first name. The Armenian family name never came into the picture. So it is a mistake to think of "Hussein" as Saddam's "surname" the way European last names are surnames.

    August 21, 2009

  • Oh, I would take this in a different direction altogether, to mean something like "attacking by means of suddenly changing your views with the intention of disarming your opponents". Politicians do this a lot:

    "The senator said she would support the measure but then opposed it on technical grounds. Her opponent accused her of using luftwaffle tactics."

    August 13, 2009

  • Wouldn't this mean "to make something lovely" – as the opposite of uglify?

    August 13, 2009

  • What's a "stimulate state", SSS?

    August 13, 2009

  • um… isn't this what stimulate means?

    August 13, 2009

  • You could also just say "expression" or even just "eyes". I am not sure that there is anything "cold" about the term facial expression, by the way. "Visage", "aspect", and "countenance" are all rather formal words. "Look" is more colloquial, but can be ambiguous (e.g., it can refer just as well to one's clothes or posture).

    August 12, 2009

  • Sionnach, I have no idea what that means.
    A clue: this word is also used as a title, e.g. Front-sitter Jane Smith.

    August 6, 2009

  • I guessed this because of the Russian word for peach, пер�?ик / persik, but Bilby beat me to it.

    August 6, 2009

  • You got it, RT!

    August 6, 2009

  • Latin-alphabet spellings are confusing things. The Polish (and Czech and Slovak) spelling ch corresponds to the Russian Cyrillic letter х, which is usually transliterated (for English speakers) as kh.

    The word Mia is referring to begins with the affricate sound "ch" (in Cyrillic, usually spelt as ч), as in the English word "church" (in Polish spelt as cz, in Czech, Slovak, and the South Slavic languages as �?).

    August 5, 2009

  • Ah… gladiolus.

    August 5, 2009

  • Sorry, Fox, that totally went past me. The pun-receiver in my brain doesn't seem to be working, or maybe I just need sleep.

    August 5, 2009

  • My dictionary says shibboleth comes from the Hebrew for "ear of corn", so I don't think that's the password in this case.

    August 5, 2009

  • Yes, Fbharjo, of course.

    August 5, 2009

  • MM, I don't have any strong associations with the names "Fred" or "Eugene", but I suspect that's a generational thing. Also, even for a generation such associations can change pretty quickly. I remember as a kid thinking that Ursula was a sort of dorky name, but then Ursula Andress came along and the name became sexy. I suppose most Americans associate the name Igor with the misshapen servants of mad scientists, but then I've known a few wonderful men named Igor, not to mention the Igor whose host was the subject of a famous lay, so that association has been lost for me.

    August 5, 2009

  • Habermas' hover mass?
    John Updike's join-up dyke?
    Ashbery's ash berry?
    Tolstoy's tall story?

    August 4, 2009

  • See list for an example of the same wordplay raised to the next level.

    August 4, 2009

  • I envision Eugene Onegin, but I don't really expect others to.

    August 4, 2009

  • Perhaps you're thinking of spatula.

    August 4, 2009

  • One of these plants is orchid.

    August 4, 2009

  • PU, there is no real reason to think this is Shaw's opinion. It's what his character Henry Higgins says, and I don't think the misogynistic Higgins is really Shaw's mouthpiece here. One should be careful when quoting from plays.

    Of course, this quote was the basis of Higgins's song "I'm an Ordinary Man" in the Lerner and Lowe musical My Fair Lady:

    Let a woman in your life and your serenity is through,
    she'll redecorate your home, from the cellar to the dome,
    and then go on to the enthralling fun of overhauling you...
    Let a woman in your life, and you're up against a wall,
    make a plan and you will find,
    that she has something else in mind,
    and so rather than do either you do something else that neither likes at all…

    August 3, 2009

  • I'm sure one of the dictionaries linked to the icons above could help you out, PU. This is not a word I know. But this is the kind of question that makes me wonder if the social-networking generation (generally speaking) knows how to use reference tools or merely relies on twittered opinion.

    August 3, 2009

  • Examples?

    August 3, 2009

  • Where are you getting this from, PU?

    August 3, 2009

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