Dictionary Challenge Week 37-39: You Don’t Want to be Ravishing

Merry Christmas everyone! Grab your rum and eggnog and settle in for the latest round-up of words that have struck my fancy for the latest edition of the Dictionary Challenge. But first I have to draw attention to the boring mathematics of it all. (Which, to be honest, gives me just a tinge of satisfaction. It’s like when you’re trying to lose weight and you hop on the scale every day and you can see that number shrinking.) So. For the first time in weeks I’ve gotten a little closer to “back on track,” now being 40 pages behind.  And at the end of this month, there will be only 10 weeks left in this challenge.

Oooh. A chill just ran up my spine.

I can see the light!! It’s a mere 480 pages away. Well 480 pages of the dictionary. That’s approximately the same as 7 average sized novels… of reference material. (Just in case anyone needed reminding.)

Obviously failure is still a very real possibility. I never count my chickens before they hatch, so I’ll only prevaricate (speak or act evasively or misleadingly) about whether or not I think I’ll make it. All I’ll admit to is trying my best… and being one refractory (stubborn, unmanageable, rebellious) piece of work, with an emphasis on the stubborn part of the definition.

Now, I think I’ll ease you into this post. Yes, that is a completely obvious foreshadowing of the dark and dingy road we will eventually amble down. So let’s start with something I have always wondered, but have never took the time to look up: A cousin who is twice removed. It was a confusing concept for me. I thought it was a family member who was disowned. But how someone is disowned twice was a mystery to me. Turns out that was completely wrong.

Removed – 1. (esp of cousins) separated by a specified number of steps of descent

Which means that a first cousin twice removed is the grandchild of a first cousin. Need more clarification? Think of your cousin. Now if that person had a child, that child would be your cousin, once removed. And if that child (as an adult, of course) had a child, then that would be your cousin, twice removed. After writing this all out, it seems like it would be pretty basic or common knowledge. So sorry for wasting your time. I’m sure you all already knew this.

Let me make it up to you with… purple. What? You also already know what purple is? False. (Well, maybe you do, but…) I’m talking about the second sense of the word in relation to writing and speech, which means excessively elaborate or ornate. Now, that’s awesome. As you can tell, my writing isn’t purple. If I had to colour it, it’d probably be green.

While I’m reading the dictionary, I have these sort of meta moments. For example, reading the word read. It means examine or peruse printed matter for recreation or personal enjoyment. Which makes me think I’m doing it wrong. Oh, but I jest. Yes, sometimes (most of the time) I’m trudging through The Behemoth and it’s not really all that enjoyable, but there are many moments where I learn something interesting, correct a mistaken thought or belief, or am rewarded with a new word that I love. Something like riparian, which is defined as on or of a riverbank. It’s a nice, smooth word and makes me think of gondoliers perched in their boats (and maybe busting out a romantic song in Italian.) Or something like propeller-head, a term for a computer geek; a nerd.

But, as I warned earlier, not all the words in the dictionary are sunshine and roses. Like ratbag, an unpleasant or disgusting person. The definition is apt, I’d say. I also kind of like it because it is so fitting. I mean, if you’re going to call someone a ratbag, they better be unpleasant or disgusting. I don’t call people names, not even the unpleasant folks, but I’d really like to start using ratbag. Just picture a fight breaking out in hockey and one of them says, “bring it on ratbag.” I bet the fight would end right then; nobody can swing a fist well when they’re laughing.

And speaking of rats, I have learned there is a small rat-like marsupial of the Potoroidae family, having kangaroo-like hind limbs for jumping called a rat kangaroo. That sounds terrifying. Imagine a big black rat springing up at you with it’s big old chompers and beady little eyes. Don’t worry, it’s not actually that terrifying. It’s actually kind of cute. Well, the ones I saw on google anyways.

Next up, is a common word, but it deserves mention because the Oxford nailed this one on the head. The definition is kind of beautiful, in a way, if you know what I mean. The word is resignation and it’s defined as the uncomplaining endurance of a sorrow or difficulty in the 3rd sense. That’s the absolutely perfect definition. A lot of words in the dictionary mean basically the same thing, so it kind of makes them less special. For example, resplendent is a word that I’ve liked for a long time, but when I finally read it in the dictionary, and the definition was brilliant, dazzlingly or gloriously bright, it was a bit disappointing. I felt like resplendent was a magnificent word and deserved a majestic definition. I wanted it to dazzle me, but it didn’t. It just was exactly what it was. It wasn’t wrong, obviously, but I wanted it to be… more. Ya, know?

So, um, yeah. I liked the definition for resignation.

This next one is actually one I use a lot when describing a fun time. Ripsnortera person or thing of exceptionally remarkable strength, energy, quality, etc. I really just wanted to share this with you because it’s a fun, goofy word and it basically means awesome. I usually use it in the context, “we’re gonna have a ripsnortin’ good time!” And we do.

Now, in case any of you were actually doubting that I was reading the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, I have all the proof you’ll need. It comes in the definition of road apple which is a piece of horse manure in the first sense and a frozen piece of horse manure used as a hockey puck, especially on the prairies in the second sense. Which is about as Canadian as you can get. Have I done this? Perhaps. Okay, yes. It happened. And I have no shame.

So along with the definitions, the dictionary will also provide example sentences to show how the word is used. But, as you can imagine, sometimes after reading for hours the words and entries can kind of blur together. So when I came to the entry for protection and read the example sentences: “not wise to engage in sex without protection; she brought a gun for protection”… well. I was caught right off guard.

She needs a gun to protect herself while having sex?

You’re doing it wrong, was all I could think. But then I realized those were two separate examples. I also realized I needed some sleep. Unfortunately, I also realized I actually can think of moments where this scenario applies.

And now for the final descent into the darker side of things.

She Looked Ravishing

First, we have the word ravishing which is a nice word, meaning entrancing, delightful in the first sense and extraordinarily beautiful in the second sense. Nothing wrong with that. However, the entry just before this one was for the root of the word. That being ravish and meaning, in the first sense, to commit rape on. And there’s a connection here that isn’t right. Ravish comes from Old French ravir, ultimately from Latin rapere seize. So you can see how it leads to rape. But how did we get from one to the other? From rape to extraordinarily beautiful? It seems obvious to me, but that is only my interpretation, of which I’m not arrogant enough to say that it’s right and so, while this is my opinion, all I ask is that you take a moment to ruminate on this yourself and think of the bigger implications.

And maybe don’t say, “you look ravishing.” You might be giving a compliment, but underneath a seemingly innocuous word, is a long history of mostly women, but also others who have suffered. It is, however, made clear in the dictionary that ravish and ravishing are separate words with separate meanings, so the argument could be made that considering them together is wrong. I wouldn’t agree with that. You can’t slap “ing” onto a word and say it’s now something good. It highlights how we twist things and normalize them. I’m pretty sure when you tell someone, “you look ravishing tonight” you’re not actually saying, “you look so good I could/would/will rape you tonight.”

But how can you not make that association now that you know that the root word of your compliment is a violent, aggressive act of sexual abuse?

Things to think about.

When it comes to your words – choose wisely.

Week 37-39 Stats

Starting Word: precipitation                  Ending Word: Robinson

Total Pages: 1335/1815                           Ahead/Behind: -40

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