Monday, August 17, 2015

Colorful words


     There are, of course, those common primary-color words, the red, green, and blue pixels of our TV screens, for example, which trick our brains into constructing beautiful full-color images.


     Then there are those vaguely-familiar, much more sophisticated words that are bandied about, I imagine, in clothing design studios, like taupe, fuchsia, and vermillion.


     And then there are some even more obscure color words that hardly anybody knows, such as:

     Smaragdine: emerald-colored

     Filemot: dead leaf-colored

     Porraceous: leek-colored

     Castaneous: chestnut-colored

     Ianthhine: violet

     Lateritious: brick-colored

     Melichrous: honey-colored

     Stramineous: straw-colored


     Some color words have evolved beyond their mere pigmentation.  Red, for example was born as the Latin ruber,  which inspired rubra  (red oak), which in turn inspired robor  (strength), leading to robust.  Rubric  was also a close cousin, which described the practice of marking instructions in liturgical texts in red. 


     (Incidentally, Colorado in Spanish means, simply, “the color red.”) 


     There are the emotional and ideological uses of color words, such as ”seeing red” or, “black-hearted” or “purple prose” or, these days, “going green.”


     And there are those of us who, encountering excess frustration or routine bureaucratic idiocy or intransigence, tend to resort to really  colorful language.



(Note: Some of the above facts were gleaned from Mental floss magazine.)




Monday, August 10, 2015

Worn-out words

     Mental floss  magazine recently listed ten ancient words that have gone the way of the unfortunate Dodo:

Jangleress:  female jangler, someone who chatters or tells stories
Bake-meat:  a pie
Corrumpable:  corruptible
Bear:  a pillow
Yolden:  submissive
Bedaff:  to make a fool of
Dulcarnon:  at wit’s end
Fouldre:  a lightning bolt
Englute:  to close with glue
Scorkle:  to scorch

     Which brings to mind a lot of words that were around when I was young but that haven’t survived into this century.  A few:

Ankle-biter:  child (could apply to my cat, Havoc)
Clanked:  rejected (it sounds  like rejected)
Cooties:  imaginary multi-legged infesters
Cranked:  excellent
Deuce:  1932 Ford (a model once often hot-rodded)
Doozy:  something or somebody unique or outstanding
Flat-top:  short square-edged haircut
Flip-top:  convertible
Floozy:  a street walker; a somewhat less-offensive term was floogie
Floy-floy:  a venereal disease, as in a top hit song of the year I was born called “Flat Foot
                   Floogie with the Floy-Floy”
Flim-flam:  a con game (think Congress)
Frail:  broke (think taxpayer)
Gringles:  worries (it sounds  like worries)
New-fangled:  something new but not necessarily good for us (like cell phones)
Raunchy:  gross
Scooch or slodge:  a friend
Slurg:  milkshake
Spaz:  klutz
Tubesteak:  hot dog
Yoot:  kid (clipped youth)
Zorros:  jitters

     What words will they be perplexing lexicographers with a century from now?


Monday, August 3, 2015

On words and phrases

     Words and phrases I’m thoroughly sick of include: Oh . . . My . . . God, like, committed, very, truly, world-class, politically correct and, most especially, awesome.

     All of these should be immediately struck out of the language by Congress.  America would be a better place.

     But if we’re going to insist on grossly overusing awesome, we should at least add a few useful derivatives of it.  Such as: awesomnify (verb: to endow oneself or someone else with awesomeness by employing makeup and/or designer-label attire, or, in exceptional cases, by the strategic display of minimal attire, as in: “That string bikini really awesomenifies her.”), and awesomenitude (to designate a certain degree of awesomeness, as in: “The candidate has only managed to acquire twenty-one percent awesomenitude in the polls.”), and awesomed, to describe someone who has just been exposed to the dazzling presence of a movie star, TV talking head, or famous author and has consequently fainted from an overload of awestruck.

     While we’re on the subject of oughta-be words, how about adding gruntled, because you can’t possibly be disgruntled until you’ve been happily gruntled, can you?  Likewise, we should add wrought in the emotional sense to the language, because you can’t become overwrought until you’re pretty darned wrought to start with. 

     We should also insert ology-ology into our dictionaries, to designate “the study of the myriad disciplines that end in –ology.” 

     We need whole fistfuls more words to catch up with the times, such as:  Amazonery, cellularity, cyberaddict, blogcrawler, tweetitis, textitude, E-bayed, Facebookery, and Googleite.         

     We’re supposed to use the term African-American for black folks these days in order to be politically correct. But when you think about it, the only people really entitled to use such a hyphenated designator are the Native-Americans whose reddish-skinned ancestors owned the whole damned place for thousands of years before British-Americans and French-Americans and Irish-Americans and Italian-Americans, and German-Americans and Chinese-Americans and Russian-Americans and South-American-Americans and all those other brazen interlopers in all shades came here in droves from everywhere else on the planet to take over the most attractive countryside and start paving it.

     Maybe it’s time to begin calling ALL of us simply Americans and just delete those hyphenated designators and all the divisive baggage that comes with them.