Dictionary Challenge Weeks 32-33: Hey Nimrods!

Prepare yourselves folks. Because I’ve been treating you pretty good so far… you know, choosing the best words to pass along to you without making you slog through the dictionary yourselves. Today, however, that changes. So watch this video and share this painstaking experience with me.

If you actually made it all the way to the end, I applaud you. (Though I’m willing to bet no one did and I really don’t blame you for tapping out.) I know it wasn’t easy. And that’s now 8 minutes of your life you’ll never get back. Which is pretty insignificant when compared to the amount of time I’ve already dedicated to reading The Behemoth… that being somewhere between 90 and 100 hours so far.

Jeez. I’m going to be able to do so many things when this challenge is over.

Anyways, it’s not always like what you just witnessed. There really are some awesome things in that big old book of words. Take murder for example. Okay, that maybe came out wrong. I don’t mean murder is awesome. I’m all about non-violence. But! The second sense of the word is “an unpleasant, or dangerous state of affairs” and I think it’s awesome that the definition made me laugh out loud…. Because, really – what an understatement. Imagine someone being murdered in cold blood and the newscast comes on the TV with the anchor saying “The family of Alfred Thompkins mourns an unpleasant state of affairs. Mr. Thompkins was murdered by a deranged psychopath.” Yeah, I don’t think so.

Some other thing that I have recently learned… a musk-ox is “a large goat-antelope”. I didn’t see that coming. Also, we are all basically netheads because most of us are “frequent users of the internet.” And…  the word nice was originally a Middle English word meaning stupid/wanton from Old French for silly/simple. That one makes me a little sad because I can see the evolution at work. Nice people generally get taken advantage of the most for being caring, trusting, generous and good to others. Which boomerangs back around to them being kind of stupid when they get taken advantage of. Kind of like the dog biting the hand that feeds it. Most of us have been there, getting bit by our dogs… we’ve been the nice guy… and where did we finish? Last! Ah, but thank goodness for Karma right? Good things are a-coming. Right? Right? I think so. So despite the word’s origins, stay nice. You’re not stupid. You’re a good person and the world needs more people like you.

Hunter

Original photo courtesy of M01229 via Flickr. Adapted by me.

And while we’re on the subject of stupid… to all my hunter friends, don’t get angry the next time I call you a nimrod. It’s actually a compliment meaning, in the second sense of the word that you are “a skilled hunter.” Well, I guess you won’t really know for sure though, because in the third sense, it also means “an inept person.” So… happy hunting ya nimrod!

Now I saw a news story the other day in which kids didn’t know that beef came from a cow or that when they were eating their burger they were eating a cow. There are words sort of like that. We get accustomed to words without really knowing what they mean sometimes. For example, o’clock. We all know what 6 o’clock is. It’s 6 in the morning. Or 6 at night. But did you know that o’clock means “of the clock”? It’s not a surprising definition, but it reminds you that sometimes you don’t think critically. You don’t know the why, but the word is so ingrained that you don’t think to ask why.

There is, however, something I want to ask “why” about, and it is… why is an ordinary seamana sailor of the lowest rank, that below able seaman”? Titles aside, you’d think that your common, ordinary seaman would at least be able. Their ranking system kind of says that the average seaman isn’t able. Not really good odds on your ship since that puts half of them as unable. Maybe changing the titles would make people feel more at ease.

Another thing I’ve noticed since I began this challenge, is that there is a form science dedicated to everything. I mean everything. In just the past two weeks, I’ve come across orthoepy, “the scientific study of the correct pronunciation of words” and oenology “the study of wines”. If I knew that oenology was a thing when I was 18… my career path would probably have gone a lot differently.

Next up I have to talk about some words where I have some sort of an appreciation for the way in which they were defined. First, is overkill, being defined in the second sense as “the amount by which destruction or the capacity for destruction exceeds what is necessary for victory or annihilation.” Pretty sure when you’re talking about annihilation, there is no such thing as overkill. But what a grand definition. I mean, it’s big, you know? I usually use overkill for more simple things, like the amount of homework assigned was overkill. And that’s not exactly something that would destroy the world as we know it.

Similarly, the definition of overwhelm in the third sense is “bring to sudden ruin/destruction; crush.” Yup, being overwhelmed is a pretty monumental thing. But again, I usually take it more along the lines of “I’m overwhelmed with the amount of chores I have” but I wouldn’t say that means I will be ruined or crushed. I can… and will… *Cue gladiator music* … survive my chores!

Okay, okay. I know I put you through the gears in making you watch me read the entry for just one word from the dictionary. So I won’t drag on forever here. Here’s a list of some of the other words I either learned, found the definition to be interesting, or just simply liked from the past two weeks:

Orgulous – haughty, proud

Orphan drug – a drug that is useful but is not commercially available for the pharmaceutical company producing it unless it is granted tax credits and other special status

Overweening – arrogant, presumptuous, conceited

Olivaceous – olive green; of a dusky yellowish green

Obstreperous – 1. Unruly, resisting control 2. Noisy, vociferous

Obstinate – 3. Inflexible, self-willed

Normal school – a school or college for training teachers

Nullity – 2a. the condition of being non-existent b. a mere nothing

As always.. thanks for reading! If you want to know as soon as the next post is up, click on the little blue rectangle at the top of the page to the right that says “Follow Exit Sideways.”

Week 32-33 Stats

Starting Word: Munition                     Ending Word: Pacific Daylight Time

Total Pages: 1114/1815                        Ahead/Behind: -51 pages

Dictionary Challenge Week One: Slaughtered

I’m a week in. That’s the equivalent of 70 pages. 70 dictionary pages. This isn’t like picking up a Calvin and Hobbes collection or Into The Wild or diving into some 50 Shades action. This isn’t even like reading the encyclopedia where you can get carried away into the story or the references.

This is an onslaught. And I’m losing. Bad.

Of those 70 dictionary pages that should be under my belt after one week, I’ve managed to only lock in 10. Yup, that’s right. Just 10 pages. Perhaps I jumped the gun and should have started a week from now when I’ll be more commitment-less or perhaps I shouldn’t be so confident in my ability to succeed. Except that neither of those things really matter.

Starting a week or two later really wouldn’t have changed anything – as the saying goes, there is never a good time. You can plan and put off, but eventually you just have to jump in or else you’ll never do it. So here I am, sinking fast, but still at least trying to go the distance. My real fault might lie in the fact that I can crush any work of fiction and, to a lesser extent, non-fiction. I assumed I’d be able to do the same with the dictionary. Clearly, I was wrong.

I’ll be honest. It’s pretty boring for most of the slog, but every once in awhile a word pops up that grabs my attention or piques my interest. Like the word acephalous. It means headless. And maybe that’s a little weird that that’s the word that caused me to pay attention. But, I mean, really – how bad ass would it be to write some haunting, Mary Shelley-esque sentence for a short story or a novel? “And an acephalous body crept past in the moonlight…”

Bad-assery aside, I’ve already learned a few things. Like how close the words accomplice and accomplish really are. They’re listed right after one another and sound suspiciously similar and yet seem to be at the opposite ends of the spectrum. But I suppose to the guy robbing a bank with his getaway driver accomplice, it’s still an accomplishment when they pull off the heist despite the illegality of it all.

All in all, I have a more sobering picture of what the next 6 months are going to be like and it’s just slightly terrifying. As terrifying as running into an acephalous man in a dark alley… Maybe? Maybe not. Either way, I’m being slaughtered out there so far with this challenge, but – as always – upward and onward.

WEEK ONE STATS:

Starting word: A                        Ending word: Acid House

Pages: 1-11                                 Total Pages: 10/1850

Ahead/Behind: -60 pages