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michaelt42 has looked up 540 words, created 3 lists, listed 15 words, written 125 comments, added 0 tags, and loved 1 word.

Comments by michaelt42

  • While at least one dictionary says that (only) males stridulate, Darwin showed that stridulating females attract males that have had their antennae removed

    March 26, 2014

  • I'll buy the Sheridan theory!

    February 11, 2014

  • How abut the topical quenelle?

    January 24, 2014

  • I waas amused to find that embonpoint was used in the quoted translation of Hippocrates. How did the Academie Anglaise permit this?

    January 24, 2014

  • Megrim, also megrim sole, is a flatfish found in Cornish (UK) waters.

    December 29, 2013

  • In the sense of deceit has been ruled unparliamentary language by the Speaker of the House of Commons during a debate, in October 2013, in which the prime minister apparently accused the leader of the opposition of using dubious reasoning.

    October 30, 2013

  • List less or list fewer?

    October 30, 2013

  • But note a resemblance to the words "stinkard", "dullard", etc.

    October 30, 2013

  • George Bush used to be ribbed for noocular; I reckon it's very common but also not readily detected.

    October 30, 2013

  • Terpsichore dances to a beat of four!

    October 30, 2013

  • Even some TV cooks get tagliatelle wrong. And lasagne gets apparently singularised to lasagna , even before the horsemeat scandal in Europe

    October 30, 2013

  • As most people cannot differentiate in their pronunciation between presence and presents, one or the other deserves a place in this list

    October 30, 2013

  • Rhymes with Barney

    Me and Barney
    Jealously barnied on the jarney
    Over a tempting sarnie

    (Spontaneous grotesque verse)

    October 30, 2013

  • Unfortunately an arm(s)rest is hardly ever at arms' length.

    June 17, 2013

  • Planxty occurs twice in Finnegans Wake: first, as in example 1, in its actual meaning; second, as in example 4, as a typically Joycean play on words, meaning "plenty". I suggest an alternative to a line in the famous song of the book: "Planxty of fun at Finnegans wake."

    June 17, 2013

  • Interesting quote from Will Self, knitandpurl. I wonder where Will was when he saw this panorama of his life - or has he implicitly redefined saccade?

    June 12, 2013

  • Wiktionary's definition (n. music - The sounding of two violin strings together by using a sudden strong pressure of the bow) is in a way misleading. A saccade is not necessary for double stopping - if it were several serene examples of violin writing would become unbearable. Triple stopping is another thing, as it it impossible to achieve without this technique. The Brahms violin concerto affords many examples.

    June 12, 2013

  • I don't know about water, but electricity is forever Amber.

    June 6, 2013

  • In homeoepathy pyrogen, or Pyrogenium, has a specitifc meaning: This remedy was introduced by English homeopathists, prepared from decomposed lean beef allowed to stand in the sun for two weeks and then potentized. The provings and most of the clinical experience have been obtained from this preparation. But, subsequently, Dr. Swan potentized some septic pus, which preparation has also been proved and clinically applied. There does not seem to be any marked difference in their effects. - See more at: http://www.homeopathy.com.pk/boericke/p-q/pyrogenium.php#sthash.6NB6cxUn.dpuf

    June 5, 2013

  • I expect to find 'gite' in printed matter, but I prefer to write"gîte", longhand or on the keyboard.

    May 27, 2013

  • Sounds a bit different to the Rift Valley.

    May 21, 2013

  • Valued by men for the scrotum-tightening property first revealed to the world by the author of Ulysses, who, incidentally described the colour of the sea as "snot-green". The Cornish artist Alfred Wallace was similarly irreverent. Visited one day in his house in St Ives by, I think, Ben Nicholson, Wallace said he was painting the sea. How? asked a puzzled Nicholson. Wallace simply pointed to the glass of sea water alongside his easel.

    May 14, 2013

  • "The entire building was bombilating like a cicada."
    Matt Cantor; Some Cures for Noisy Neighbors; The Berkeley Daily Planet (California); Oct 9, 2008.

    Actually, cicadas stridulate.

    May 12, 2013

  • I love the sound of T - and I love the way in which it acts as a rich signifier: (AFTERNOON) TEA, (BUILDERS') TEA), (CHINA, INDIAN) TEA, (GOLF) TEE, TI AS OPPOSED TO VI (in Serbian, with corresponding differentiation in other Slavonic languages), criterion of suitability and other examples that I will allow you to discover for yourselves. Clashes between homophones can be seen in this light.

    May 8, 2013

  • Something to be circumvented: a sticky situation or problem from which it is almost impossible to escape, which proves that it is entirely possible to end a definition of tar baby without using a preposition.

    May 8, 2013

  • Richard Strauss wrote an opera about a female Ascian, unsurprsingly called "Die Frau ohne Schatten." An ascian artefact whose purpose is vitiated twice a year by its being on the equator is the gnomon of a sundial.

    May 7, 2013

  • I wonder in which section of the workshop you might find one?

    May 1, 2013

  • It's good to have an excuse to allow a few cricket terms an innings. A googly bowled (not thrown, please) by a left-handed bowler is known as a Chinaman while, geographically speaking, a ball pitched by the bowler so accurately that the batsman cannot easily move backwards or forwards to take it in the middle of the bat, instead hitting it with the bottom, is a Yorker; such a ball usually lands on the point along the crease where the bottom of the bat rests when the batsman takes guard, known as the block hole. It is entirely possible, since Brighton (the setting of Greene's Brighton Rock) has a cricket field where Sussex play, that Graham Greene was inspired to entitle his novel, The Third Man, by the fielding position of that name. Lately, with the wearing by some fielders of helmets with visors, the fielder in the position of silly mid-on has moved so close to the batsman that the position could more accurately be renamed suicidal mid-on. Hit for six, which relates to a stroke by which the batsman hits the ball clean over the boundary, scoring six runs, is a common expression derived from the game. Forward and backward (of the crease) are used to nuance the description of the fielding position point and do not imply an evaluation of the player's intelligence. Finally, the popping crease is a line which the rear foot of the bowler must not cross before he releases the ball. It does not go pop like the legendary pea pod, nor for that matter like the weasel. However, violation of the rule about not crossing the popping crease with his trailing foot will immediately provoke the umpire to announce the bowler's misdemeanour by the call: No ball!

    May 1, 2013

  • I would like to quote two recent uses of humble/humbled. Appearing before a House of Commons committee lately, Rupert Murdoch said that this was the most humble day of his life. On April 10th, 2013, Sir Mark Thatcher said that his mother would have felt humbled by the Queen's attending her funeral, which was due to take place a few days later.

    April 10, 2013

  • The number expressing the golden section is a surd, as commented on by jaime_d.

    March 14, 2013

  • The Latin surdus gave rise to sordino in Italian and sourdine in French, both meaning mute, the device that modifies the sound produced by musical instruments, especially in jazz.

    March 14, 2013

  • Better to say "employed in the metal mining industries " of Cornwall; balmaidens did not work underground.

    March 5, 2013

  • Bungaloider (not to my knowledge ever previously used) could be a convenient word for the builder of bungaloid homes, and perhaps also for a frequenter of wild girl-thronged parties, such as Italy's most famous cruise crooner/prime minister.

    February 27, 2013

  • The Russian word phonetically transcribed as droog is written thus in Cyrillic characters: друг. This is an amendment of billifer's comment.

    February 25, 2013

  • Customers will be able to see all the Tyres. Therefore not only spam, but comprehensive spam.

    February 15, 2013

  • Woodwind instruments divide into four categories: those with a single reed (clarinets, saxophones), those with a double reed (oboes and bassoons), recorders and transverse flutes. Control of the double reed is highly demanding of the player's embouchure, and draws upon the contribution of the lips, teeth and jaw. Problems with the jaw are not unusual with oboe players.

    February 15, 2013

  • Not to be confused with granivorous, which means feeding on seeds.

    August 3, 2012

  • Ecology © 1991 Ecological Society of America
    Abstract:
    In order to quantify the response of birds to experimental manipulations of seed availability and densities of granivorous rodents and ants, we counted granivorous birds and measured diurnal and nocturnal seed removal on 24 plots during winter months in the Chihuahuan Desert. Removal of single, widely spaced millet seeds provided a reliable measure of bird and rodent foraging activity. Avian foraging activity increased in response to supplemental seeds, but decreased in response to long-term removal of all rodents and all ants. Although birds potentially compete for seeds with rodents and ants, these results suggest that, in the long term, indirect facilitation dominates the interactions among all three taxa. The positive effect of the other granivores on birds may be mediated through changes in habitat structure (e.g., reduction in the density of annual plants). The increase of avian foraging in response to seed addition and the high spatial and temporal variance in the patterns of seed removal by birds indicate that in desert habitats granivorous birds use their mobility to find and exploit high concentrations of seeds. Thus, birds may reduce the spatial variation in seed abundance and reduce the densities of seed available to other granivores. The foraging behavior of birds and rodents revealed by these experiments clarifies the response of granivores to experimental manipulations reported earlier, such as the lack of biomass compensation by rodents in response to seed addition.

    August 3, 2012

  • Demimondaine a tad less hot..

    July 18, 2012

  • Similar in meaning to demirep , but sexually more adventurous, perhaps.

    July 18, 2012

  • The German Scheissensturm exists but just doesn't get used. Warum?

    June 9, 2012

  • Like GHibbs I too need a goznutunder.

    June 5, 2012

  • In other words, a hair extension or implant, fortunately not toxic.

    June 5, 2012

  • The Telegraph, a UK newspaper, has been writing about a possible Greek exit from the euro, which it calls a Grexit.

    June 3, 2012

  • Nice if you would share the context of scatty with us, ShanShen!

    June 3, 2012


  • "All things counter, original, spare, strange" (Gerard Manley Hopkins: Pied Beauty) presents us with four perfectly selected synonyms of curious.

    June 3, 2012

  • I recall a line from Walt Whitman's poem "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" (1859), set to music by Frederick Delius in "Sea Drift" --

    ... And every day I, a curious boy, never too close, never disturbing them, Cautiously peering, absorbing, translating.

    (them - a pair of nesting sea birds)

    June 3, 2012

  • Examples citing P ope Benedict are exemplary.

    June 2, 2012

  • Short passage or entrance found in Cornish towns, e.g., Penzance; to be distinguished from ope or 'ope, a deaspirated expression of expectation, and from ope, a clipped version of open.

    June 2, 2012

  • He/she knows his/her tables - said of a child who can instantly and reliably give the answer to, usually, simple multiplication processes, eg, 9 x 6 = 54, or 7 x 8 = 56. The multiplication table needs to be learned by rote, usually by the aid of chanting.

    May 21, 2012

  • I give another quotation from "Disturbed Ireland - Being the Letters Written During the Winter of 1880-81," in particular for the atmosphere generated by the words of Bernard Becker:

    "From the papers the figure turned to a heap as of bank-notes, and there was in the air the chink of money. For the name of this grisly and terribly real spectre is _gombeen_; which, in the Irish tongue, signifies usury.

    May 21, 2012

  • Seems equally applicable to a car that is so old that, despite the advantage of running on a smoothly surfaced pavement (not the case for early cyclists), it suffers so much from mechanical deterioration that it provides for its passengers the discomforts experienced by those pioneers.

    May 9, 2012

  • Scrambled egg - British slang for the gold decoration (resembling oak leaves) on the peaks of the caps of senior naval officers. Corresponding police, army and air force ranks have similar decoration in other colours.

    May 4, 2012

  • Re 'stripe' : I could well have written that Anchorage were thrashed.

    April 27, 2012

  • Andrew Marvell's ingenious use of the word needs to be seen in its context fully to be appreciated: "Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound/My echoing song; then worms shall try/That long preserv'd virginity/And your quaint honour turn to dust/And into ashes all my lust/The grave's a fine and private place/But none I think do there embrace".

    April 17, 2012

  • In broadcasting radio or television programmes are radiated.

    April 17, 2012

  • I suppose that one use of brough is to reduce the character count of a tweet.

    April 17, 2012

  • Longfellow alluded to the brough in The Wreck of the Hesperus: Last night the moon had a golden ring and tonight no moon we see. That line constitutes the whole raison d'être of the poem.

    April 17, 2012

  • Female kangaroos are endowed with three vaginae, ie, they are trivaginate, and they also possess an additional uterus.

    April 17, 2012

  • Female kangaroos are trivaginate and possess two uteri.

    April 17, 2012

  • ruzuzu, thanks very much.

    April 15, 2012

  • The original word, from the Moravian region of the Czech Republic, is written lomčovák. Under the influence of the labial m the initial t sound of č (which has the sound tsh) mutates to p; although the word gets reproduced in English without diacritics, and with e replacing o, as lomcevak, slight alterations of the vowels lead to the pronunciation lumpshavak, as suggested by oroboros.

    April 15, 2012

  • Choragus and Coryphæus, according to OED, are two posts in the Department of Music at Oxford carrying "modest stipends". They appear to be sinecures. Choregus is an alternative; the spelling varies according to the Greek dialect from which the word is transcribed.

    April 15, 2012

  • What ho! a generalized, but often approbative or jocular, exclamation, the meaning of which depends on the context. The two tweets already posted shed no light, HO might mean house officer.

    April 15, 2012

  • Probably an error for what ho.

    April 15, 2012

  • In reply to ruzuzu: I think some folks have a tendency to duplicate a preposition for verbal padding: I took it off of the shelf; she took the washing in off of the line (an extreme example, but not impossible, which just means "she took in the washing").

    April 15, 2012

  • In reply to pterodactyl: "When" shall I pick you up is less specific than "(at) what time"; the answer "this afternoon" is more general than "at 3 pm" Therefore the wording of the question is determined by how specific I wish the answer to be.

    April 15, 2012

  • Fumeral is an architectural term for a smoke outlet from, usually, the roof of a building. The information about etymology on this page seems to refer to funeral. The fumeral on the Vatican emits either white or black smoke, according to the intended message about the choice of a new Pope.

    April 15, 2012

  • The comment about congrument reminded me of an architect who attended a funeral service at a crematorium he himself had not designed and remarked, as the smoke from the furnace rose into the sky, and to the mystification of bystanders, "I wish that had been my fumeral".

    April 15, 2012

  • ccvcccvcc could be interpreted as the number sequence 205300195.

    April 15, 2012

  • This list shows that some oxymorons are more oxymoronic than others

    April 13, 2012

  • The gas mantle, which consists of a gas-jet heated metallic mesh coated with a suitable compound, typically oxide, of metals such as calcium and thorium, is candent at a lower temperature than the untreated metal. The source of the gaslight of the Victorian theatre, it is still in use today for illumination.

    April 13, 2012

  • One day recently I found a newt sheltering under a brick in my garden. The next morning the newt had gone, showing that it had been able to venture forth into freedom again. This is gratifying but does not perhaps enable me to get certification as an animal sanctuary, but merely as "nice to newts" and the garden qualified as a "niche for newts."

    April 12, 2012

  • Sea trout in the British Isles, which is anadromous in spawning behavior, is also known according to region as sewin in Wales, finnock (Scotland), peal (West Country), mort (North West England) and white trout (Ireland). It is the entry of the fry into the sea that governs the growth and subsequent spawning of this fish, which is genetically identical with brown trout.

    April 12, 2012

  • Mute (person, swan): muted (musical instrument, eg, the solo horn at the end of Beethoven's Pastoral symphony).

    April 12, 2012

  • From a prayer that I heard around: it's sensible and realistic: "ENDUE THY MINISTERS WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS AND MAKE THY CHOSEN PEOPLE JOYFUL." Fits all faiths.

    April 9, 2012

  • A lot depends on what sound precedes the final d of a word. If you, pterodactyl, analyse the phrase reduplicated second sight you may notice a difference between the d/s sequences when enunciated. I find that the first d is present, reinforced by the preceding t; the second disappears.

    April 9, 2012

  • Spelt is a grain, barley is for malting, oats is/are for horses (Dr Johnson) and pure sublimated sulphur comes in the form of flowers.

    April 9, 2012

  • Willow is limber timber.

    April 7, 2012

  • Sutton is a common name for English towns, meaning south town. Examples include the London Borough of Sutton, Sutton Hoo, a famous ship burial in Suffolk, and Sutton Coldfield, now a part of Birmingham (mentioned in Henry IV, Pt.1).

    April 4, 2012

  • Norton in English place names is an alteration of north town, eg, Kings Norton, Staffordshire; Norton Canes, Staffordshire; Norton Malreward, near Bath.

    April 4, 2012

  • "West town" in UK place names often becomes Weston, eg Allweston, Dorset.

    April 4, 2012

  • In UK place names eastern sometimes gets changed to Aston (east town). Steeple Aston (Oxfordshire), many other *** Astons and 37 Aston ***s (eg, Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire) are listed in the 2012 AA Greater Britain and Ireland Road Atlas.

    April 3, 2012

  • Leading seaman's insult to new National Serviceman: You're going around like a turd in a trance (Royal Navy, ca. 1955).

    April 3, 2012

  • The presence of such a facility has given the name Tuckingmill to a small industrial area lying in a valley about 2 km to the east of Camborne, Cornwall, better known in the 19th century for its tin and copper mining.

    April 1, 2012

  • Something that deserves a place in a pâtisserie is krémes, a Hungarian vanilla flavoured sweet based on eggs.

    April 1, 2012

  • I remember from the period around 1950 in the UK a proprietary medicine called Famel, which was, as far as I can remember, a children's cough sirop.

    April 1, 2012

  • The term Friar Tuck, with its fairly obvious rhyming slang connotation, found its way into the UK House of Commons during Questions to the Prime Minister (Cameron) last Wednesday (March 27, 2012). Cameron, a Conservative, was accused by Ed Milliband, Labour leader, of "not caring a Friar Tuck" for the less well off; Milliband also derided the idea of a Robin Hood budget that would take from the rich to give to the poor. Normally language of this sort would be ruled in poor taste by the Speaker, but on this occasion, when the gloves were off in the post-Budget period and Millibrand was persuing a clear Robin Hood analogy, the Speaker let the remark pass.

    April 1, 2012

  • The term Friar Tuck, with its fairly obvious rhyming slang connotation, found its way into the UK House of Commons during Questions to the Prime Minister (Cameron) last Wednesday (March 27, 2012). Cameron, a Conservative, was accused by Ed Milliband, Labour leader, of "not caring a Friar Tuck" for the less well off; Milliband also derided the idea of a Robin Hood budget that would take from the rich to give to the poor. Normally language of this sort would be ruled in poor taste by the Speaker, but on this occasion, when the gloves were off in the post-Budget period and Millibrand was persuing a clear Robin Hood analogy, the Speaker let the remark pass.

    April 1, 2012

  • A Brief Biography of Joseph Priestly gives insight into lunatic: "While in Birmingham, Joseph Priestley became a member of the Lunar Society. This was an informal group that met monthly when the moon was full so that there would be light to drive home by. Naturally they were called, and called themselves,lunatics. The members were successful manufacturers and professional men who shared an interest in stimulating discussions on philosophy and science and almost any subject that was interesting. The participants included James Watt, Matthew Boulton, Erasmus Darwin, and others." From A Brief Biography of Joseph Priestley, Prepared by members and friends of the Unitiarian Universalist Congregation of the Susquehanna Valley (UUCSV), Northumberland, Pennsylvania (http://uucsv.org/priestl.htm)

    March 19, 2012

  • Yarka (Cyrillic ярка) is the femine form of the adjective, used predicatively. Another meaning of ярка is ewe lamb.

    March 19, 2012

  • Batswoman is hard to find on search engines (do you mean batwoman? is the usual query), but the term is alive and well in cricket reporting. Interestingly Claire Taylor, a recent English women's cricket captain, used the term batsman of herself on UK Radio 3 today (she was being interviewed about her musical interests)

    March 19, 2012

  • The slang word for kerosene in Australia and New Zealand is 'kero' (Land's Edge:A Coastal Memoir, by Tim Winton).

    March 19, 2012

  • In current UK politics the quad is the group of the four politicians David Cameron and George Osborne (Conservative) and Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander (Liberal Democrat) that directs the policy of the coalition that constitutes the UK government.

    March 18, 2012

  • The Serbian word dupe/дупе is pronounced doo'-peh, means arse ( jennarenn, dontcry Dupa, pterodactyl) and the first vowel is of medium length - better late than never! - but in this series of comments appears to have been confused with dupa. According to my late wife it was regarded as a giggle word by children in the 1940s in Belgrade, to whom is was no more reprehensible an expression than bum or bottom.

    March 4, 2012

  • Those who have eyes but do not see are, perhaps, inoculate? Although, after writing this comment, I can see confusion with another meaning of inoculate, all because of the various different meanings of that innocent yet intoxicating prefix, in-. Delightfully, the Italian for coronation is incoronazione.

    March 4, 2012

  • The future for the Russian Federation may be unpredictable but seems to lie along the Ulitsa Putina.

    March 4, 2012

  • Overheard in Newlyn, Cornwall, recently: "I'm not your type - I'm not inflatable."

    March 4, 2012

  • the cost of air in the tires (Annie Proulx, The Shipping News).

    March 4, 2012

  • I would dearly love to know the name given to the serifs absent from capital I (India) in the type face that you Wordniki are now reading that ARE REMARKABLY INEFFECTIVE in distinguishing cap. I (India) from l.c. l (el). As for the origins of ooblek, perhaps the learned Dr Seuss was playing on French oublier/oblique in view of the strange properties of non-Newtonian fluids, or maybe he was trying to transform Augenblick into a pseudo-Hungarian word, őblik,but changed it further just in case he was misunderstood by his compositors.

    March 2, 2012

  • The superluminal neutrinos that puzzled scientists when first reported last year (2011) seem likely to be demoted to the status of phantoms. A faulty connection in the complex apparatus used for the measurements is now thought to be the cause of the problematic result, as was reported in the UK press today.

    February 23, 2012

  • "Jolted is funny and smart and fast paced. And it's written with real love for that fascinating liminal creature called the young teenager, for whom the sky is always just about to fall."
    Tim Wynne-Jones; Electrifying; The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada); Sep 13, 2008.

    Change liminal to limeral (back formation from limerance) and would you detect any difference in meaning?. Tennov's claim to lack of etymology doesn't hold water - the source is within her own mind, apparently censored by the substitution of -er- for -in- and the obfuscating suffix -ance.

    February 13, 2012

  • In past centuries is was common for country estates to be named Beau Repair. Three such estates in west Cornwall were originally so called, but in the course of centuries the names have been corrupted (possibly by a Cornish-speaking population) into - Bareppa, near Falmouth; Barripper,near Camborne (famed for copper and tin mining in the 19th century); and Berepper, near Helston.Other names more easily interpreted are, for instance, Bellevue, Beaudesert (Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, UK) and Belair.

    February 3, 2012

  • Today I heard a neat play in an exchange on Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4) between Sir David Attenborough and Miss Kirsty Young. KY suggested that DA was unimpeachable: DA countered by saying that he was very peachable if you knew how. Both individuals are peaches, of course.

    February 3, 2012

  • Sciamachy just about sums up Don Quixote's behavior towards windmills.

    February 2, 2012

  • Jeeves was a butler rather than a waiter, but the equally celebrated Sam Weller appears to have worked in the latter capacity before he became Samuel Pickwick's manservant and started entertaining that distinguished gentleman with his Wellerisms.

    January 30, 2012

  • By extension of the idea, an antonymicon could turn out to be a very curious book indeed because of the chance that any two antonyms of a word could turn out to be synonymous.

    January 30, 2012

  • Powerful weed.

    January 18, 2012

  • Implants made from silicones include breast implants (controversial in Europe in January 2012 because some were filled with unapproved silicone gel), replacement tear ducts and prosthetic testicles (silicojones?).

    January 6, 2012

  • Zoosphere is a good word to use for all life in the universe.

    January 3, 2012

  • According to OED douceur entered English from French late in the 14th century, so that it appears not to have been taken in earlier from Norman French.

    December 12, 2011


  • The idiom, have (one's) heart in (one's) mouth = to be extremely frightened or anxious, is taken a step further by "his heart sank ...", which is an expression of acute dismay or terror, the degree of emotion being indicated by how far his heart sank: into his stomach, or into his boots.

    December 7, 2011

  • Rhyming slang for heart is jam tart - remember the Queen of Hearts whose baked goods were purloined by the Jack (or was it the Knave?). The phrase is often used by bridge players when referring to the Hearts suit.

    December 7, 2011

  • When I was attending a boys' secondary school near Birmingham, UK, in the 1950s tart was used unselfconsiously as equivalent to girlfriend or a girl one just took out. Maybe in this usage tart = sweetheart, somewhat counter to the identification with a sex worker of the appropriate gender.

    December 7, 2011

  • Mellifluous is an example of a word the fantasy of which has overtaken the reality. One imagines honeycomb as it is taken from the hive, dripping with the clear lightly coloured fluid and all the Marie Antoinette stuff, but she ain't going to recover refined honey, still less go out there with her protective suit and visor to harvest the comb from the hive. The fantasy is of a land overflowing with milk and honey, the reality is that these benefits have to be won by the labour of the beekeeper and the milkmaid. Little wonder that mellifluous is generally associated with the quality of the sound of music or of words, spoken or sung.

    December 7, 2011

  • I notice that very few of the definitions and examples of the use of length refer to the dimension of time, Wine tasters refer to the length of a wine: this means the time for which the taste of the wine lingers on the tongue, indeed within the whole mouth - it is an aspect of mouthfeel. For exceptional wines the taste remains for minutes, even hours and one can go around for a whole day with the memory of a tasted wine seemingly everlastingly present.Such wines not surprisingly command high prices.

    December 6, 2011

  • The following comment on a French red wine describes it as full-bodied, which is clearly a perception derived from the mouthfeel. "Although the alcohol % is only 13.5 I would normally describe this Madiran as full-bodied, more to do with the tannat grape than the strength of the wine.It is a hearty red & quite rich in flavour.Personally I would give the 2004 another 2 years to soften the tannins more.

    December 6, 2011

  • There is sometimes a problem in the reporting of accidents that involve phosgene, an extremely reactive chemical reagent that if not properly contained may cause fires and environmental poisoning. A report of an incident in Cornwall this morning set two uses of phosgene in apposition: poison gas and reagent used in the pharmaceutical industry. Such juxtapositions unfortunately invite negative inferences, and people may wonder why a poison gas is being used to manufacture drugs, whereas it would be more useful for their being made aware of the fact that a reagent used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals can if accidentally released be hazardous, so toxic in fact that it is used as a chemical warfare agent. There is no chemical connection between phosphorus, a non-metallic element, and phosgene, the chemical compound, carbonyl dichloride. The first part of each word, phos-, is merely indicative of the production of light (Greek phos) in certain circumstances.

    December 6, 2011

  • In the past I have done some chanting. Japanese words are rarely used in English; one example is "Daimoku", meaning "title", the name given to the mantra "Nam(u)-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō" (the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese original language) of Nichiren Buddhism."I take refuge in (devote or submit myself to) the Wonderful Law of the Lotus Flower Sutra" has been suggested as a universal translation.

    December 5, 2011

  • Redolent and other words connect us to our sensory memories. Proust explored this space; so did Dickens and others who explored the pollution of the 19th century in terms of the sights, smells and sounds of the urban environment; Keats described a vintage "Tasting of Flora and the country green,/Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!" - though his imagery is so powerful that you don't at first notice how he makes tasting do duty for other forms of sensory perception implied by his words, viz hearing, seeing and smelling. Olfaction seems to be the most powerful of these, which perhaps explains why the meaning of redolent has become extended.

    December 4, 2011

  • The miniature edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme Broadcasting House this morning (4 December 2011) lasted 45 instead of the usual 60 minutes and contained a report of a remarkable microscopic feat, viz the engraving of a list of names on the surface of a single football boot stud, which may cause you to recall the even smaller scale used in the manufacture of silicon chips. It is believed that miniaturists like Nicholas Hillyard worked with exceedingly fine brushes and executed their work under a hand glass.

    December 4, 2011

  • Wordnik's Word of the Day today, 1st December 2011. It arrived on my computer at 0946, timed to perfection for those of us that live in the UK.

    December 1, 2011

  • Bilby, I thought, having some Australian connections, that is was a type of clear, self-adhesive plastics tape for the fair sex, possibly also known as Sellatape.

    December 1, 2011

  • I am not a little puzzled to find duress and auspice linked together as "Related words/same context". They are virtual antonyms. So what is the relation?

    December 1, 2011

  • I am not a little puzzled to find duress and auspice linked together as "Related words/same context". They are virtual antonyms. So what is the relation?

    December 1, 2011

  • Carrick is one of the six districts of the county of Cornwall, a peninsula that forms the SW extremity of England and stretches from Lands End eastwards for about 75 miles to the Tamar, a river which constitutes the greater part of the boundary between Cornwall and Devon northwards from Plymouth. Carrick is named after the Carrick Roads, a splendid deep water (over 16 fathoms) anchorage in the estuary of the River Fal. However, the Roads are not named after the Portuguese ships that may have frequented them in the 16th and 17th centuries, but after a geographical feature in the mouth of the estuary (which is a drowned river valley), called nowadays the Black Rock (ie, bare, not covered with seaweed), but when the Cornish language was spoken, carrek dhu.

    November 30, 2011

  • During the 1970s I was the editor of a trade journal published in London, entitled 'The Flavour Industry', which later vaingloriously advanced itself to 'International Flavours and Food Additives', although its implicit claim to have moved outside the boundaries of the UK was, to say the least, spurious. The relation of mouthfeel to impressions of dryness, graininess, mouthcoating and viscosity sums up the range of perceptions pretty well. However we need to distinguish between the mouthfeel of liquids and of semisolids,which is immediately perceptible (Coke and champagne, Pepsi and Perrier, and clear soup and custard offer interesting comparisons and contrasts) and of solid foods like meat, fruit and bread, which must be mixed with saliva and chewed to give a changing mouthfeel to the food being chewed until it reaches a consistency that is felt to be suitable for swallowing. A whole range of mouthfeel sensations is found in the practice of diagnostic wine tasting, where dryness means lack of sugar, puckering is the reaction of the mouth to excessive acidity and tannin, and mouthcoating and viscosity must be translated, in the tasting of wine to be laid down or further matured, into estimates of acidity, sugar levels, tannin, and “body”, and potential for improving with age. MSG is an example of a food additive that improves mouthfeel as well as being a flavour enhancer. We must not forget too the importance of ones ears as well as the impact between ones teeth and the food in the crunching of nuts, celery, crisp biscuits, crackers, cornflakes - and toast!

    November 30, 2011

  • Boon, derived from Norse, by itself means a favour (pray grant me this boon: let my son live); the term boon companion means a good companion, boon in this case being derived from French bon

    December 1, 2010

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