packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (quarter-rear)
I have wondered online a number of times about how to describe pithily that state of physical and mental deterioration that results from staying up too late without sleep - the analog in many ways is being drunk (key difference: lacking sleep doesn't imbue a false confidence in your current abilities), but "sleepdrunk" is weak, and the other terms are all obscure and obsolete.

Except they aren't - there's already a widely-used term for that state. It's called "wiped", as in "I'm sorry, I tried to push through an all-nighter, but I was so wiped by one a.m. that I just passed out."

This has been your wiped-post of the wee hours of the morning. Carry on.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Mardy: Throwing a tantrum and/or feeling self-pity because you didn't get your way.

Via Mitz's "Plan B", where Veronica heads home "in a mard". Urban Dictionary also mentions telling people, "Stop being such a mard arse!"

(This post attempts to imitate [livejournal.com profile] prettygoodword, a much more reliable source of nifty words. Checkit.)
packbat: Coming into the finish line after a mile race - the announcer can be seen behind me. (running)
[livejournal.com profile] coppervale, yesterday, wrote a bit On Becoming a Writer where he approvingly quotes a rule Harlan Ellison said to him: "You're not a writer until a writer tells you you're a writer."

[livejournal.com profile] gregvaneekhout begged to differ, and suggests that "the designation 'writer' can only come from the act of doing it".

The question I am inclined to ask is: whence* comes the divide?

First: I claim that it truly is a divide, not merely a quibble of the sort which may be casually dismissed in a footnote. It tears along the same line dividing elitism and egalitarianism, distinction and description - either the former elevates Writer to a title or the latter reduces it to trivia, depending on which side of the line the reader falls, and there is a real sense of investment in the side. "How dare you claim we are not writers?" one might ask; or, inversely, one might ask, "If you are writers, where are your publications? Where are your awards? Where are your membership cards?"

Second: that's where it comes from. It comes from the split between the prototype of the writer and the etymology of the term - from the difference between definition by similarity and definition by function. Further, it gains its power from the conflict in the definition. To use an elitist frame, because we ascribe merit to the title, we wish to gain it (this drives the meaning towards the more general functional form), but because the merit of the title comes from the prototype, we wish to restrict the title to the deserving (this drives the meaning towards the prototypical). To use an egalitarian frame, because we pay attention to this behavior, we wish to employ our language to match the behavior as logically as possible (this drives the meaning towards the functional), but because we pay attention to this behavior, we want to make sure to be thrifty, to only pay to the truly exemplary examples (this drives the meaning towards the prototypical).

Third: These very tensions make the divide impossible to resolve by any maneuvers. Nevertheless, I have an opinion.

My opinion is thus: the best strategy is to employ the word in the functional sense. This does tarnish the trademark, if you think of "writer" as a trademark, but to try to apply the elitist standard raises too many ridiculous confusions. (Check it out: Is Anne Frank a writer, by the elitist definiton? Samuel Pepys? William Topaz McGonagall?) But on the other hand, we should recognize that adjectives apply - professional versus amateur, good versus bad, original versus derivative - and we should recognize that people may (or may not!) take "Writer" as a part of their identity, and not to deny them their identity or ascribe too much moral or social value to their identity.

The same goes for a lot of other titles - "artist", "dancer", "fisher", "poet". These words are not states of being, they are states of doing. Best to recognize it and go from there.

* Linguistic aside: "from whence" is an equally valid form. I simply prefer the shorter version.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

Whether it's a canary in the coal mine or a waitress in the weeds, idiomatic expressions can sometimes stump us even in our own language. What common expression puzzles you the most?

View other answers



"Your money's no good here" is a pretty confusing one - took me a while to twig to that one. (It means, "It's on the house". Edit: Okay, so it's ambiguous.)

(That said, I totally had to look up the waitress in the weeds.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Have you ever been trying to think of a word for ages, and just couldn't come up with it?

Have you ever ran into some new concept which you would love to articulate, but you can't think of a neologism for it?

Have you ever found or invented a term which deserves wider use?

The thing is, I've seen people doing all these things all the time, and recently. Shouldn't there be a LJ comm where people can find and fill their lexicographical gaps?

Who's with me?
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

What is your definition of cheating?

View other answers



Cheating attempts to gain the rewards of a good performance without the performance.

Baksheesh

Mar. 6th, 2008 10:44 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
bak·sheesh - Persian: a payment of money as a gratuity for good service, an acknowledgement to a holy figure, or bribe to make things go quicker or easier.

Found, inexplicably, when searching for oesophagus (which, in turn, was prompted by Planet Karen). Wikipedia is both amusing and highly "non-encyclopedic".

Macaronic

Nov. 1st, 2007 10:59 am
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (twisty little passages)
Shock of the day - the A.Word.A.Day people actually got a winner today:

macaronic (mak-ah-RON-ik) adjective

Involving a mixture of languages.

[From Latin macaronicus, from Italian dialect maccarone (macaroni), probably alluding to the jumble of macaroni and sauce on a plate.]

[...]

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

"Speaking not in the gleefully macaronic English that has made for such good, clownish copy in the past, but in his native Italian, he sounded serious and reflective as he answered questions about his age, his health, and his dwindling plans for the future." Justin Davidson; Pavarotti Winds Down; Newsday (New York); Mar 11, 1998.


Of course, that said, I cannot help but think: isn't "macaronic English" a bit of a redundancy? ;)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
A few years ago, I was watching John Carpenter's Stanley Kubrick's The Shining for the first time. It's a really good movie, and I enjoyed it as a really good movie, but what I'm remembering is a particular sequence.

In fact, I'm not even remembering that. I'm remembering a single exchange. A character is at the bar, and planning to buy a drink. The bartender tells him (it was a he) "Your money's no good here", and hands him the drink.

When I saw that scene, I was absolutely bewildered. The bartender just said his money's no good. How is going to pay for that drink?

I know what the phrase means now.* But it's still weird, to me.

* It means, "No charge for you, sir."
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (RZ Ambigram)
I forgot to mention – in my first game of "Literati" yesterday, my opponent attempted two interesting words: "Stoor", and "Coag". I was quite skeptical of these during the game, but afterwards I discovered, amazingly enough, that both were genuine.

From Google (which led me to dict.die.net, a dictionary that seems more comprehensive than many), I discovered that stoor was a relative of "stir", and meant, quote, "to rise up in clouds, as dust" (I presume you could stoor flour in a mill as well) and coag was a carpenter's term for a dowel or tenon connecting two timbers. (The distinction between calling something a "coag" and calling it a "tenon" was not explained – perhaps "coag" is simply more general, referring also to third pieces that connect.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Don't you love turn-of-the-century* prose? In just the first chapter of The Man Who Was Thursday (copyright 1908), even if I restrict myself to mere praise of vocabulary, there's "empyrean" (refering to the heavens, more prosaically named the sky), "navvies" (an antiquidated slang term chiefly referring to construction workers), and greatest of all "flâneur" (that unique term of Baudelaire's† describing the detached gentleman observer who walks about the city). And, of course, Colney Hatch‡ (that metonymic term for a mental asylum which is so much more colorful than the standard phrase).

I'm going to enjoy this one. I can tell.

* By which I mean turn-of-the-20th-century. This latest turn was of the millenium.
† Wikipedia, I admit.
‡ Wikipedia again.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Bumper)
A dictionary! Of phrases! Now, when some Greg wonders what's so special about tomfoolery, compared to the regular sort, we can inform him that Tom has long been a name associated with honest dullards, and therefore a "Tom Fool" is one of those idiot practical jokers. Thus, "tomfoolery" is exemplified by the sort of imbecilic sense of humor that thinks taking someone else's things, claiming them as your own, and then returning them is the height of comedy. Q.E.D.!

...Or not. But I'm bookmarking this dictionary anyway.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Once again, from Webster's New World, Second College Edition:
ol·i·goph·a·gous adj. feeding upon a limited variety of food, as certain caterpillars whose diet is restricted to a few related plants


While I admit I eat pizza and fries too often, I am not nearly so oligophagous as the stereotypical college student.

(Yes, oligophagous comes from the same root as oligarchy and is related to esophagus. And to anthropophagous, actually. But the specific word's new to me, so... ^_^)

Like, dude.

Feb. 6th, 2006 11:13 am
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (RZ Ambigram)
is, like, n. Slang 1. to say something similar to [she was, like, "whoa!"]  2. to perform an action implied by; often is followed by a sound effect [I was, like, "wham!"] : same as is like,
—Note that, unlike paraphrase, the expression is, like, indicates a rewording performed by the speaker, rather than the individual quoted


As you can guess, I didn't get this one out of Webster's New World, Second College Edition.

Tendentious

Feb. 3rd, 2006 06:55 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Half-Face)
^z, in his excerpts from Z. A. Melzak's autobiography, has led me to another word: tendentiousness. To refer to my Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition (somewhat abbreviated):
ten·den·tious adj. characterized by a deliberate tendency or aim; esp., advancing a definite point of view: also sp. ten·den’cious

This strikes me as another useful term. I am glad to find it.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (RZ Ambigram)
From Wikipedia: A closet drama is a play that is not intended to be performed onstage. My paper dictionary, previously mentioned here and elsewhere, concurs on this.

Why do I mention it? I don't know. I like having names for interesting things.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Half-Face)
So, I attempt to look up the word aperçu, yes? This is what I see.
The word you've entered isn't in the dictionary. Click on a spelling suggestion below or try again using the search box to the right.

Suggestions for aperçu:

1. aperçu
2. [...]

*eyetwitch*

Greige

Jan. 15th, 2006 06:26 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
I was browsing the LibraryThing page, that being an online indexer of book collections (my LibraryThing profile), when I saw a word unfamiliar to me on their blog.

greige (Merriam-Webster Online definition): being in an unbleached undyed state [...] – used of textiles.

Here also is the Answers.com definition, courtesy of Google.

In the case of the LibraryThing blog entry, I at first did not see why the quote was cited. [The original context, for those of you who did not click the link, was in reference to LibraryThing's old design, specifically the bland nature of the bar on the top. The emailer said it was "dangerously close to greige." (exact quote-of-a-quote)] It was an interesting metaphor, to be sure, but not extraordinary enough to merit mention.

Then I looked at the pronunciation of "greige" more closely.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Half-Face)
Was just reading "Return Ticket" by Anthony Deane-Drummond (a book in a collection of three WWII escape stories my father gave me) when I came upon the passage quoted in the title. Bewildered, I checked several dictionaries before turning to the Internet for help.

thefreedictionary.com gave the answer in the Thesaurus (this answer was then confirmed on Answers.com): "dixie - a large metal pot (12 gallon camp kettle) for cooking; used in military camps".

Fascinating. *returns to book*
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
Consider the definition of a rhyme. Essentially, tail rhymes only happen when the final syllables of the word are similar or identical, right? In fact, excepting semirhymes, oblique/slant rhymes, and sight rhymes, all of these involve having varying numbers of the final phonemes being exactly identical.

So, if you wrote all the words phonetically, and then sorted by the last letter, wouldn't all the rhymes fall together?

You'd have to do some tricks to handle imperfect rhymes, of course, but it would work! In fact, it would almost be possible to sort most slant rhymes to be close together as well! (Nobody cares about sight rhymes.) You could do this in a paper dictionary, even! It would rock!

If someone hasn't done this yet, it needs to be done. Seriously.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
More fun with the Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition…

fleer (flir) vi., vt. to laugh derisively (at); sneer or jeer (at) —n. a derisive grimace, laugh, etc.; gibe —fleer’ing·ly adv.


I must honestly say that I can't remember an occasion when I observed someone fleer at anything (probably because I hang around nice people), but I suspect it's a good word to know, nevertheless. Also, it makes a nice set with sneer and jeer, and possibly other 'eers that I don't know.

flense (flens) vt. flensed, flens’ing to cut blubber or skin from (a whale, seal, etc.): also flench (flench)


This word made me happy because it reminded me of the name of a character in A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge. I thought that book was terrific, and I didn't realize that character's name was from a real word.

(P.S. I feel almost like a failure because LJ spell-check recognizes "fleer". Ah, well, you can't win them all.)

ETA: Oh, just noticed another:

flat·ling (-ling) adv. [Obs. exc. Brit. Dial.] 1. at full length 2. with the flat side, as of a sword Also flat’lings, flat’long (-lông) —adj. [Obs.] struck with the flat side [a flatling blow]


I so wish I could drop that one into conversation. I suppose one might make a flatling flatlong swing (I like "flatlong" for the adverb better) with one's sword, but I'm not often around swordfighters. Maybe a metaphorical usage? Hmm…
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Those of you who were (or are!) fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 439, Kensington, MD, U.S.A., will well remember this device. Some others may remember it as well – as far as our troop is concerned, it is a wooden hammer, made from a section of log. One end of the log is left intact (sometimes the bark is removed) to serve as the head, and the other end is narrowed with saw, axe, and knife to serve as a handle. Making a ... err, one of these is a requirement for Totin' Chip in Troop 439, since it requires all three of Totin' Chip tools to make. Additionally, it is perhaps the best tool available to Scouts for driving their tent stakes. Unfortunately, no-one knows how to spell it.

Fortunately, this situation can finally be repaired, at least for the next ten minutes. Examination of my dictionary shows that shillelagh is the proper spelling, named for an Irish village. (Internet research further shows that many places have a different definition of shillelagh, but we don't care about that.) Thus, shillelagh.

Q without U

Oct. 1st, 2005 02:30 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Half-Face)
As long as I'm posting good Scrabble® words:

qat: An African and Arabian plant (Catha edulis) whose leaves have a stimulating effect when chewed. Also used for tea. Also spelled "khat".
qintar: A unit of Albanian currency, valued at 1/100 lek.
qiviut: "[Esk.]", so I assume it's Eskimo; refers to a certain kind of musk ox hair.
qoph: Ninteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Also spelled "koph".

That's all that I found. If you have QE, you're stuck.

All definitions paraphrased from the Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, ed. in chief David B. Guralnik, © 1980 Simon & Schuster, New York. Just so you know.

Oh, and LJ spellcheck recognizes none of them. Just so you know.

Edit: Strange, qanat isn't in there. I guess Mr. Guralnik considered ancient Arabic irrigation systems too obscure to include in a mere college dictionary – or he never heard of them. I won't hold it against him, of course; I know nothing about him, although he seems to have been a fascinating fellow (although now five years deceased).

Ubiety

Oct. 1st, 2005 02:20 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
From the Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, ed. in chief David B. Guralnik, © 1980 Simon & Schuster, New York:

u·bi·e·ty (u as in use, bi as in bite, ety as in sanity)* n. [ModL. ubeitas < L. ubi, where] [Now Rare] the condition of being in a particular place


Wow. I love the idea that we have a word for this. Of course it's rare. Not too many situations which demand such terminology, I would think, but it's a simple enough concept that it deserves a seven-letter existence.

Let's see. This laptop is ubietous (if I may draw the parallel with "ubiquit(y/ous)"), as are most other concrete objects, but truth, justice, three, and most other abstractions are not. Also, an omnipresent deity (one of the most common kinds of deities) clearly lacks ubiety. Sweet.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
There are at least three reasons why I shouldn't be making this post. One, I don't have much free time today. Two, I don't know that much about computers and storage media, so the data are probably flawed. Three, there's no point.

That said...

Storage Media and What [livejournal.com profile] packbat Calls Them



This list actually is ordered, believe it or not.

Cards

Cards (a.k.a. memory cards) are solid-state storage devices which are designed to be plugged into slots. "Solid-state" is a key part of this definition; the part of the card with the data on it does not move. Most digital cameras use cards to store images.

Slots

These are the ports into which cards plug. The card and the plug have matching contacts for data transfer, and the slot has cords (coming out the back, usually) to be connected to the computer accessing the data. Some printers contain special-purpose computers to read images off of cards and print them.

Discs

Discs are circular storage media. Data is recovered (or placed on) discs by use of drives which spin the disc and scan the surface, be it through magnetic or optical means. If the disc is contained in a case, the disc-plus-case combination may have a different name; see below.

Disks

Disks are discs with their own cases. They do not contain the mechanisms to read themselves; instead, they are designed with a way for the drive to 'look' at the surface of the disc and to spin the disc.

Drives

Drives are designed to read specific kinds of disks or discs. They do this by spinning the disc (whether it be inside a disk or not) and accessing the data on specific points while it spins. Drives connect to their computers by means of cords.

A special case of a drive is called the Hard Drive. Hard drives contain built-in discs that are designed not to be removed, and built-in reading devices. Because they contain discs, they are sometimes called "hard disks" or even "hard discs", but according to Google, "drive" and "disk" are the two more common terms, and "drive" the most common of the three. This is logical, since disks generally don't have drives, and discs generally don't have cases or drives.

Cords and Plugs you probably are already familiar with; cords connect to plugs, cords transmit data.


And that's it. Thank you for your patience.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Someone (alright, [livejournal.com profile] active_apathy) posted a poll about reading speed yesterday, with a link to a Google search for reading speed tests. I took this test.

759 words per minute, 91% (10/11) comprehension.

I should run more tests, of course, but this does make me happy. The average is about 200 wpm.

(Updates on other stuff – i.e. Scout summer camp, 50 mile hike – later.)

Edit: Tests number 2 and number 3 complete. #2 says "between 650 and 700". #3 was inconclusive, as it only measured up to 489. Perhaps the best Test #4 would be an on-paper one.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Half-Face)

Ideally a gender-free pronoun set will fulfill a certain set of criteria. Primarily we should consider essential criteria, these must be met in order for a pronoun set to qualify as gender-free. A gender-free pronoun set must have no obviously gendered linguistic root, be it from this language or borrowed from, or influenced by, another. A gender-free pronoun must be applicable to all people rather than generally being used to only refer to one specific group. Regardless of whether this group is something which is conventionally considered a gender, if use of the pronoun implies something about the person in question then it may not be considered gender-free. Once a pronoun set qualifies as gender-free there are a number of desirable criteria which may be used to rate it against others. Our pronouns should be just one syllable long and easily pronounced. The set should be intuitive and easy to remember, this is helped if the set has some kind of internal logic. The set should be interchangable with the existing singular animate third person pronouns. Using our pronouns should not require rewording or restructuring of the rest of the sentance. Each of the pronouns in the set should be unique from each other while still appearing connected (we are only interested in making the gender of our subject ambiguous not anything else). It should be obvious where each pronoun in the set fits, this can be helped by the pronoun set having some kind of non-gendered linguistic root. Ideally our pronouns should be recognisable as pronouns. Our chosen gender-free pronoun set should meet as many desired criteria as possible. With this in mind we will now move on to an examination of the most currently popular and well known gender-free and potentially gender-free pronouns.


From this page on pronouns.
Edit 2005-10-20: The page appears to have expired. Internet Archive mirror of page on pronouns

I like the idea of ungendered (Look Ma! No consistency of terms!) pronouns. My gender on LJ is easy to figure out, of course, but one of my favorite conceits is to use gender-ambiguous handles on bulletin boards, and treat erroneous pronouns the same as correct ones. I hate the idea that either gender is superior, or even intellectually very different, and I find it entertaining to be gender-anonymous online.

I do answer direct questions, however. No sense in lying, really, or at least not direct lying.

Apostrophe

Jun. 8th, 2005 05:30 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
A couple days ago, I mentioned the purchase of a book called Forms of Verse: British and American by Sara deFord and Clarinda Harriss Lott. (I did not cite any information beyond the title, sans subtitle, so you didn't miss anything.) When I was reading, I came upon an interesting vocabulary term associated with the concluding sentence of Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World, quoted below for convenience:

O eloquent, just, and mighty Death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and despised; thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of man, and covered it all over with these two narrow words, Hic jacet!

This segment of "rhythmical prose" appears on pg. 4 of Forms of Verse, with stresses and pauses marked. It is part of the introduction to rhythm and meter that makes up the first chapter of the book. However, in one of the following paragraphs describing features of the sentence, the authors state that, "since Raleigh addresses the personified Death, [he utilizes] the rhetorical figure of APOSTROPHE." (5)

This use of the term "apostrophe" startled me. I soon turned to the glossary, however, and found it there defined as
a figure of rhetoric in which an address is made to someone not present, or to an abstraction[.] (310)
Subsequent examination of the Merriam-Webster Online definition of apostrophe and the Wikipedia "Apostrophe" entry confirmed this, as well as offering the etymology; the word is derived from the Greek "apo" ("away from") and "strephein" ("to turn"), and therefore literally means "to turn away".


However, I suspect that a more detailed etymology would require mention of Greek plays. (Note the "I suspect". The remainder of this entry is pure speculation.)


(Incidentally, "speculation" comes from the Latin "specere" ("to look, look at"), by means of "specula" ("watchtower") and ... err ... never mind.)


Last year, I attended an "Intro to Drama" class at the University of Maryland. In that class, around the start of the semester, we studied two Greek plays, "Oedipus Rex" and "Lysistrata". (Incidentally, the latter is one of the bawdiest plays of all time. Be warned.) In reading the stage directions, quite frequently the following pair of words arise: "strophe" and "antistrophe". These terms are stage directions for the chorus in the play; the strophe and antistrophe refer to turns in opposite directions as the chorus sings its lines. In fact, in the later plays (and "Lysistrata" is among these) there are sometimes a pair of choruses, and each addresses the other: one during the strophe, the other during the antistrophe.

Therefore, it is my suspicion that "apostrophe" came from the Greek plays, and was a direction for either a chorus or a player to address someone off-stage, or to address some non-person concept, off the stage.

A fascinating word indeed.

"Pithy"

Apr. 29th, 2005 09:37 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Green RZ)
I recently got a paper back from my "Morality and Religion" class. In the comments on that paper, my teacher informed me that I was basing the conclusion on three pithy arguments – a bad thing, apparently, in a philosophy paper.

Upon first reading this comment, I thought I understood his meaning: My paper was too informal, its arguments were not appropriately stringent, I was engaging more in demagoguery than in philosophy. However, after a moment, I realized that I was not entirely sure what "pithy" meant. I looked it up in my dictionary. Specifically, Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition.

(I have made a few minor edits to the entry, for purposes of typographical convenience. The definitions are unchanged, but the pronunciation guide and the other forms (adverbial, etc.) have been removed.)

pithy adj. 1. of, like, or full of pith 2. terse and full of substance or meaning—SYN. see CONCISE

This definition quite surprised me. I had thought that to be pithy was like being witty. My mental image, in fact, was of some Lord Peter Wimsey archetype (those ignorant of Dorothy Sayers' mystery novels may substitute Oscar Wilde or Jerome K. Jerome) making up silly proverbs. Such little phrases hardly seemed to fit this description. I resolved to search further, and thus I visited Merriam-Webster Online, which would presumably have a more recent definition than the 1980 college dictionary I had previously checked.

(Note that similar changes have been made to this definition. The full entry, however, can still be found through the link.)

Main Entry: pithy
Function: adjective
1 : consisting of or abounding in pith
2 : having substance and point : tersely cogent
synonym see CONCISE

"Curiouser and curiouser!" thought I, in a conscious imitation of Lewis Carroll. Clearly, this deserved further investigation.

I next proceeded to Wikipedia, thinking that it might contain more depth on the word. Unfortunately, no entry on "pithy" existed, and the entry on "pith" dealt purely with the vegetable sense of the term.

I continued to Google, testing the "definition" link on the results page. It forwarded me to answers.com.

Oddly enough, my answer was there. The first entry repeated the earlier ones ("[p]recisely meaningful; forceful and brief: a pithy comment."), the second was a thesaurus ("[p]recisely meaningful and tersely cogent: aphoristic, compact, epigrammatic, epigrammatical, marrowy. Informal brass-tacks. Idioms: down to brass tacks, to the point. See meaning, style/good style/bad style."), but the third, from "WordNet", had a slightly different answer:

The adjective pithy has one meaning:
Meaning #1: concise and full of meaning
Synonym: sententious

This led me naturally to the meaning of "sententious". According to the other page, this was:

  1. Terse and energetic in expression; pithy.
    1. Abounding in aphorisms.
    2. Given to aphoristic utterances.

    1. Abounding in pompous moralizing.
    2. Given to pompous moralizing.


I stopped at this point, having found a definition matching my prior beliefs. A definition of the wrong word, perhaps, but still a definition.

Now that I think it over again, I wonder how good these definitions are. If I and those I know seem to use "pithy" more like "sententious" than like "concise", then are these dictionaries simply wrong, or am I? Is the conflict merely that of different English dialects? What is the answer?
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
From the Latin "pro" and "cras", meaning (in this context) "favoring tomorrow". Which is quite literally what I did, almost down to the exact hour.

On the bright side, though, I did nearly finish reading through the Schlock Mercenary archives. As Eric Burns has mentioned, it actually is pretty good "semi-hard" science fiction.

I like semi-hard science fiction. A lot. Throw in puns, mild innuendo, and a good plot, and I like it even better.

Still doesn't change that I should have finished my paper earlier, of course.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
As you may have inferred from my past posts, I am a regular on a webcomic forum. The Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire forum, to be specific. It's a fun place to go, especially if you read the comic - plenty of pun and games for all, and a little bit of fairly-reasoned political debate as well.

One of the people I met through this forum has become a friend of mine on AIM as well. We have had a lot of fun in our chats, and he showed me a goodbye which I find quite striking. That is, the phrase "Wind to thy wings."

Those four words resonate with me. The metaphor of flying is a powerful one, made more powerful by the economy of the words. The use of the archaic "thy" adds to this by evoking the memory of classical English poetry. Still further, the alliterative form is strong, both in the accented 'wind' and 'wings', and the quick, light 'to thy' between.

Content and form working together. Simplicity and elegance. Poetry.

Wind to thy wings.

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packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
packbat

October 2011

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