25 November 2008

More interesting words from the OED

(A continuation of yesterday's post reviewing Ammon Shea's book "Reading the OED")

Lipoxeny – “The deserting of a host by the parasites that have been living on it.” The author (and the OED) suggest that the host-parasite relationship is a botanical one, but when I encountered the word, the first image that came to my mind was that of Thomas Beckett's corpse cooling on the floor of the cathedral, and his clothing rippling with the departure of his body lice. More on that some other time. Maybe.

Natiform – “buttock-shaped”

Noceur – “A dissolute and licentious person; a person who stays up late at night.”

Paracme – “The point at which one’s prime is past.”

Petricore – “The pleasant loamy smell of rain on the ground, especially after a long dry spell.” It's curioius that such a complex image should be synthesized into one word, but it's a wonderful word to have. Curiously, the word was created as recently as 1964, so it's not in my compact OED.

Postvide – “To make plans for an event only after it has occurred.” Note that the original meaning of "provide" is “to make provision for beforehand.” To "postvide" is therefore basically to close the barn door after the cows have escaped.

Redeless – “Not knowing what to do in an emergency.” Thus the antonym of “savoir faire,” which originally meant “knowing what to do in an emergency.”

Ruffing – “The stomping of feet as a form of applause.” "Ruff" is one of those short coarse Anglo-Saxon type words that can have lots of meanings as a noun or a verb; in this case the sense derives from the verb describing the beating of a drum.

Sarcast- “A write or speaker who is sarcastic.” Self-evident; the cool part is that the Greek root "sarkazein" means “to tear flesh like dogs.”

Sequacious – “Prone to following the thoughts and opinions of others in a fashion that is slavish and unreasoning.” In modern parlance that would be... a “dittohead.”

Ultracrepidarian – “One who offers advice or criticism in maters beyond his scope; an ignorant or presumptuous critic.” In other words... a blogger!!

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