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 Words that have you reaching for a dictionary

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Thu 09 Jan 2014, 19:23

Nordmann,


not exactly the same but as frustrating.


I speak two close related Southern Dutch dialects. I have the word in mind which exactly expresses what I want to say. Many times a French word as we have in our dialects, as in English many French related words, but also a Southern Dutch word which completely differs from the Northen Dutch one, which is mostly mentioned in Dutch dictionaries. As I can't remember the Northern Dutch word, while I don't use those words in my daily conversation I am not able to seek for a translation in dictionaries from Dutch to whatever language I want to translate...then I have to seek on the internet with "my" word to see if there isn't a link to the "official" Dutch.

I haven't that difficulty with foreign languages...as I only know the "official" versions Cool ...
Or it has to be a "slang" word that I picked up on these boards... Wink 


Kind regards and with high esteem for all the erudite thoughts you offer here on the boards.

Regards from Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Thu 09 Jan 2014, 20:53

Paul wrote:
... all the erudite thoughts you offer ...

Or "rude thoughts" might be more accurate, at least according to the Philippa Gregory Web Team, bless her!

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Thu 09 Jan 2014, 21:23

This thread is concerned with words we find vague enough to require the aid of a dictionary. However it is worth mentioning also words with which we are now totally familiar, assume to have been around for yonks, and assume equally erroneously that their present semantic application was always the one intended, but which only a short while ago sent people either to their dictionaries or even into apoplexy if the following is anything to go by.

In 1931 an executive working for the Western Union company attempted to implement a ban on the use of one particular verb in all company correspondence (its use as a noun was to be tolerated). I wonder can you guess what he found so abominable that he was moved to write that the word not be allowed "to soil any good Western Union paper", before going on to say that the "loathsome" person who invented this "hideous vulgarism" should have been "destroyed in early childhood,". He concluded his tirade with; "so long as we can meet, get in touch with, make the acquaintance of, be introduced to, call on, interview or talk to people, there can be no apology for this word's use."

If you can guess the abomination please feel free to contact me with the answer.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Thu 09 Jan 2014, 23:23

I wondered briefly about 'phone' or 'telephone' but it has a slightly different meaning and use; could it be 'contact'?

Re Bunty: my hard-copy books don't help with this either - they tend to say 'etymology uncertain' or link it with lambs bunting or bunting flags.  Neither of these really have much connection with a name though, I feel.  As regards what it is in the stead of, I suppose the lamb connection would suggest Agnes.  The one named person in one of my books said her birth name was Frances.  (An American golfer whose surname I now forget.)  I was reading that Margaret has been the great success story of modern Scottish names, ferval, and wonder if it is just Margaret's ubiquitousness in Scotland that means Bunty is connected to that.  I think names like Margaret, Katherine, Elizabeth, Mary and Anne have the greatest number of diminuatives and variants, and they are all names only used of women, no names from a masculine name amongst them, they are all connected to the aristocracy and royalty and saints, and they all go back through the centuries before surnames differentiated people.  They are all also known throughout European countries and have variations in each country. 

I am reading (still) Pickwick Papers, and though it comes with a glossary, for some reason the editor doesn't always bother with words that puzzle me, rather concentrating on where places were and are in London.  He didn't tell me what a 'reeking jorum' was, for example.  Nor does google very clearly, but my older Chambers dictionary says, "a great drink or jar for drink".  It says ety.unknown, but possibly from 2 Samuel viii 10.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Fri 10 Jan 2014, 00:08

I wonder - since the "bunt" of a sail is the swelling in the centre to allow it to capture more wind, could "Bunty" be no more than a more genteel version of "Lard"?
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Fri 10 Jan 2014, 05:23

I'd amend that a bit Caro, it sounds a bit Anglocentric. Margaret (Margarita), Katherine (Ekaterina), Elisabeth (Alisabet), Mary (Maria, Mari), Anne (Anna) are Christian names, and therefore have been used in most Christian countries for centuries. More to do with saints than the aristocracy originally, who were only naming after saints like everyone else.

Margaret itself is a variant of Mary, though isn't it?
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Fri 10 Jan 2014, 09:04

Regarding ID's post, I remember discussing with a Jewish lady long years ago the fact that "Mariam" (sp???) was the Jewish version of "Mary".  But of course it was the other way round because the original name was Jewish and "Mary" is the English version of the Jewish name.

There was a "Bunty" comic for girls in my childhood - the eponymous blonde heroine was in a story (well comic strip) on the front every week.  I've a feeling Temperance has mentioned the story "The Four Maries" from that comic on another thread - you know I can't remember whether it was "Four Maries" or "Four Marys".
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Fri 10 Jan 2014, 09:08

The Four Marys was originally an old folk song;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Hamilton

purportedly about the 4 ladies in waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Fri 10 Jan 2014, 10:20

I think the slight popularity of Bunty in the mid 20th C is put down to that comic and there was a 1911 London comedy called Bunty Pulls the Strings, apparently which may have brought it to attention.  Margaret and Mary aren't the same name: Mary is from the Hebrew Miryam, and Margaret is from the Greek margaron "a pearl".  Mary's original meaning is somewhat vague, but perhaps to do with pregnancy and fertility, or possibly connected to the sea, or sometimes thought of as 'bitter'.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Fri 10 Jan 2014, 13:59

If Margaret is derived from the Greek word for peal, the correct term would be margarites, not margaron. 

PS. Ah, just checked. Yes it is margarites, and the name came into English via the Latin (also) Margarita. Margarita, is the equivallent for Margaret still used in Greece today.

Edit. Forgot to add, Saint Margaret is the patron saint of expectant mothers, and very popular during the Middle Ages.

Edit Edit. Further checking, Margaron is the Hebrew for pearl. Definitely not Greek, although the Greeks could have derived the word from the Hebrew originally.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Fri 10 Jan 2014, 15:00

Peigi / Peggy etc. are also "pearls" and that's how they come to be used as diminutives of Margaret - and margarine comes from the same root - early marge wasn't dyed yellow.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Fri 10 Jan 2014, 16:20

Mmm, I remember pegs, peggies or toothy pegs being used as baby words for teeth years ago too. In other words baby teeth being little pearls? Or is that stretching it a bit too far?
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Sun 31 Aug 2014, 16:12

An amusing list of 16 forgotten words from the English language. They should indeed be bought back into use Smile 

http://mentalfloss.com/article/56845/16-weird-forgotten-english-words-we-should-bring-back
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Sun 31 Aug 2014, 21:42

I've heard of a "grog-blossom nose" many a time and oft - particularly prevalent in cider country, I think, and "numbles" were more usually "umbles" that were made into umble pie - later corrupted to "humble pie", but still in reasonably common use in that form.

I wonder if "numbles"/"umbles" are another example of the migrating "n", as in "a nadder" becoming "an adder" or "an eft" becoming "a newt"
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Sun 31 Aug 2014, 22:03

Pettifogging is still in my fairly small modern Oxford dictionary and I have seen it used enough to know what it means.  Though not 'pettifogger' itself, which my dictionary's etymology says is petty + obsolete 'fogger' - underhand dealer.

Short OED says umbles and numbles both come ultimately from Latin lumbulus, diminuative of lumbus, 'loin'.  Perhaps not exactly umbles but just this moment a friend has given me a liver, straight from the lamb yesterday.  I have been surprised at how much nicer liver/lamb's fry is when it is fresh like this than bought from a butcher or shop.  (It is also not absolutely legal, I suppose.  Home-kill not supposed to be eaten outside the family home.)
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Sun 31 Aug 2014, 22:09

Pettifogging is still thriving at our local council, more's the pity.
(the practice, not the word).
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Mon 29 Sep 2014, 09:21

Here's an ace word for impressing impressionable people down the pub: paraclausithyron. It is a type of poem - "a lament outside the locked door of a mistress."

I hope I'm not wrong to write it with a "c": Wiki has it with a "k" which does look, it must be admitted, more Greek. I think either is acceptable - the "c" version is Roman. Nice to know such laments are still going strong:



The motif is not merely a historical phenomenon: it continues in contemporary songwriting. Steve Earle's song "More Than I Can Do," for example, gives a typical paraklausithyronic situation with such lines as "Just because you won't unlock your door /That don't mean you don't love me anymore" as does his song "Last of the Hardcore Troubadours," in which the singer addresses a woman, saying "Girl, don't bother to lock your door / He's out there hollering, "Darlin' don't you love me no more?" Similarly, the first two verses of Jimi Hendrix's Castles Made of Sand involve paraklausithyronic situation of a man kicked out by his lover. Likewise, Bob Dylan's song Temporary Like Achilles contains many features typical of the ancient motif (lament at the door, long wait, presence of a guard as a further obstacle, etc.) and recalls the pathos and rhetoric of the Roman elegiac paraclausithyron.



PS The adjective, paraklausithyronic, is even better. Lovely word.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Thu 20 Nov 2014, 22:25

The other day, when reading an article which read quite easily for the rest of it, a sentence included the word 'fissiparous'.  "He pulled the fissiparous Scottish together." I had forgotten what I was reading and assumed it was about the recent referendum, but now remember it was a praising article (review?) about one of Scotland's kings. Who was the youngish king killed with most of the Scottish aristocracy?  James IV, I think.

At any rate it seems to have come metaphorically from a biological term to do with fission.  I reached for my dictionary but the one near my computer, a NZ Pocket Oxford, one didn't have it; however the Shorter Oxford did. 

I often suffer from onomatomania - and not just with finding the right word, more often just remembering it is the problem.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Words that have you reaching for a dictionary   Mon 08 Dec 2014, 19:43

Like Priscilla and her doyen/doyenne, I too have been using a word without completely understanding its meaning. And our Res Hiss doyenne actually was not using the word doyen inaccurately at all: one meaning given for doyen does indeed refer to age. She just got the gender wrong.  Smile

doy·en  (doi-n, doin, dwä-y)
n.
A man who is the eldest or senior member of a group.


My wrong word for today is demimonde and demimondaine. I used it earlier meaning arty and bohemian, but, for a woman, being called a demimondaine is definitely not good. I didn't know this. See below.

The term was often used as one of disapprobation, the behaviour of a person in the demimonde being contrary to more traditional or bourgeois values. Such behaviours often included drinking or drug use, gambling, high spending (particularly in pursuit of fashion, as through clothing as well as servants and houses), and sexual promiscuity. The term demimondaine referred to a woman who embodied these qualities; later it became a euphemism for a courtesan or prostitute.

PS Caro - you said on the other thread that Jean Rhys struck you as being a "wild woman". Yes, she was - as a young woman she was a demimondaine in all senses of the word. She was a very unhappy person. But this "wreck of a woman" - as one critic described her - was a writer of genius (in my opinion). She achieved her real fame in the 1970s, and, as an eccentric old woman, went to Ronnie Scott's in London wearing a pink wig which slid off her head as she became drunker and drunker. George Melly, who befriended her, dubbed her "an Edwardian Johnny Rotten". Wild woman or not, the Queen honoured this writer with a CBE in 1978, much to the dismay of the residents of Cheriton Fitzpaine, the Devon village where Jean Rhys lived. Anyone who refers to Cheriton Fitzpaine as Cheriton Fitzcowpat, which she* did, gets my vote.

EDIT: * Jean Rhys, I mean, not Her Majesty the Queen.
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