Dictionary Challenge Weeks 40-42: A Sedulous Challenge

It’s time to get intellectual.

Okay, well, maybe only a little bit. There are a ton of entries that are basically just synonyms of words that are much more common. Sometimes I like these entries because they have a nice flow to them, but most of the time I’m much more realistic in how I consider them. No one (that is… regular, non-pompous, literarily disinclined folks) will know what I’m saying when I spout off about how the dictionary is sesquipedalian.

I could have just said the dictionary has big words in it.

Big words

So while I’m being acquainted with a great many words that are, well, sesquipedalian – the practicality of actually using them is fairly moot. I’m a writer by trade, but not in the grand literary sense of novelists and poets, so any instances where some of these words could be used would actually be a hindrance, acting more as a barrier to communication than an asset. Using complex language excludes a lot more people than it includes.

However, even though I know, for convenience sake, I won’t use a lot of these words… I still appreciate them. Here’s a list of some of my favourite “big words” from the last three weeks:

Rodomontade – Boastful or bragging talk or behaviour

Sagacious – 1. Mentally penetrating; gifted with discernment; having practical wisdom 2. Acute-minded; shrewd

Salubrious – 1. Conducive or favourable to good health; healthy 2. Pleasant; agreeable

Scabrous –  1. having a rough surface; bearing short stiff hairs, scales, etc 2. Requiring tactful treatment; hard to handle with decency 3a. indecent, salacious; scandalous 3b. behaving licentiously

Saturnine – 1. Sluggishly gloomy temperament 2. (of looks) dark and brooding

Saprophagous – feeding on decaying matter

Scrofula – 2. Morally corrupt

Rugose – wrinkled, corrugated

Senesce – grow old

Sententious – 1. (of a person) fond of pompous moralizing

Sedulous – 1. Persevering, diligent, assiduous 2. (of an action, etc) deliberately and consciously continued; painstaking

That last one I feel like applies to me. Deliberately and consciously continuing the painstaking process of reading the dictionary. But let’s move along to some words I’d like to expand on a bit. First up, is one of my favourites… rusticate meaning, in the first sense “retire or live in the country.” This is really only because I am a country girl who now lives in the city and I have this part of me that still yearns for the country. Rusticate has enough of that romantic sound to it that it really aligns with how I feel about the country; it elicits an elegiac response in me.

Another top contender is shemozzle and this is simply because it’s fun to say and pairs well with its definition, like a cheap glass of white wine with chicken nuggets…. that definition being “a brawl or commotion” in the first sense, and “a muddle” in the second sense. Come on. Say it out loud. Shemozzle.

Now wasn’t that fun?

Next up is a word I included because I like how the people who write the definitions wrote part of the entry for selfish. In the first sense, it’s defined as “deficient in consideration for others, concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure; actuated by self-interest.” It’s the first part that I like so much. Deficient in consideration for others. Maybe it’s because I like how it implies that a selfish person isn’t just self-involved, but that they are actively deficient in some way – that they are lacking. It’s my own idiosyncratic way of looking at it, I suppose.

I also liked the word Saskabush as “a nickname for Saskatoon” because I had never heard that nickname before, but it made me laugh because it’s pretty fitting. The word schmaltz is another I liked because the two senses of the word are so completely different, yet I could still see how they might relate. The first sense is “sentimentality, esp in music, drama, etc” and the second sense is “melted chicken fat.”

Different. Yet similar.

I also have to make note that shit-eating made its way into the dictionary, defined as “smug, self-satisfied.” Which is something, I think, that most people know. But, like many other words I’ve come across in The Behemoth, it made me stop and think about it. I don’t think someone would necessarily feel all that smug if they were eating feces. Right?

Yeah. Words certainly are interesting… when you think about them. Kind of like how the archaic definition of self-abuse is “masturbation.” I have just one thing to say about this… you’re doing it wrong.

Weeks 40-42 Stats

Starting Word: Roblin, Dufferin                         Ending Word: side

Total Pages: 1442/1815                                      Ahead/Behind: -33

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Dictionary Challenge Week Five: Knock off the Bafflegab

Good news! While I’m still behind, I’m no further behind than I was last week. Here’s to the start of the comeback. And I’ve also made it all the way through the As! Only 25 letters to go…

It’s been very hard to pick my top 5 each week. Some words roll off the tongue nicely, others mean something beautiful, still more have an interesting definition that sparks further thought on origins and relatedness to yet other words. Some just make me smile. Like Axilla. Don’t you picture a giant lizard wreaking havoc on downtown New York with a gargantuan-sized axe? No? Just Me? Either way, it means armpit.

Now that the appetizer is over with, here are my top five in no particular order:

  1. Arsenic hour – the period in late afternoon when youngsters become particularly cranky and unmanageable
  2. Arrabbiata – a pasta sauce of tomatoes, garlic, bell peppers, and hot peppers
  3. Assassin – a person who is hired to kill someone, usually for political or religious reasons
  4. Autumnal – past the prime of life
  5. Bafflegab – official or professional jargon which confuses more than it clarifies

Okay, before jumping into things, I’ve decided I have to give honourable mention to bada bing bada boom, bada boom bada bing. I love that this nonsensical phrase has legitimate merit.

Definion of bada bing bada boom

Now for the big guys.

Arsenic hour. I know some moms and pops out there who read that and were like YUP. I feel quite inclined to personally expand that definition and use the term for 6 am – the time of day when adults awaken and become cantankerous zombies before a hot brew turns them into human beings again.

Up above, I mentioned the words that roll of your tongue. Say arrabbiata out loud. Really purr it out. Now you have to admit – that’s some fun stuff right there. But it’s about more than the tongue roll; the word comes from Italian for ‘enrage’ which alludes to it’s spiciness. Anybody like me who finds themselves sucking back a glass of milk after a chance encounter with a jalapeno understands this connection of rage to mouth-on-fire spice. I’d really like to see someone tell their waiter, “I’ll have a caesar… with a lot of rage.” Well, maybe not. They’d probably get a black eye along with the drink and the waiter would just say, “that’s what you asked for.”

While I’m not into violence at all, I had to put assassin on the list this week. Again, not because of the actual definition, but because is comes from medieval Latin assassinus from Arabic hassas which means hash-eater since the medieval assassins were ‘reported to consume hashish to fortify themselves for action’. That’s right, folks. Your highly trained, professional killer is high as a kite. Maybe it helps with the guilt…

Although there are a few other definitions of autumnal, the one that reached out to me was the one above. It sounds so much nicer to say that you’re an autumnal woman rather than an old geezer. No one likes to admit when the prime of their life has passed and that death seems much closer than you ever thought it would be. But here you have this nice, easy-going word to make it seem alright that you’re growing older and can no longer throw a fastball or dance the boot scootin’ boogie like you used to. It’s going to be okay. You’re just autumnal.

On to bafflegab. I really liked the frivolous sounding nature of the word, but it’s the potential application that excites me. When someone is using all these big, fancy words you don’t understand – you just pull out this dipsy-doodle of a word and put a stop to it in true mic-drop fashion. What comes to mind is the scene in every movie when someone gets diagnosed with cancer:

Doctor: We used a fluoroscopy during your biopsy to get a sample from the parenchyma. After testing, we’ve discovered that you have adenocarcinoma and will require curative surgery, followed by adjuvant chemotherapy.

Patient: What does that mean in English?

So I’d like to rewrite that scene to have the patient say, “knock off the damn bafflegab and give it to me straight doc.”

Week Five Stats

Starting word: Argentina                      Ending word: balance sheet

Pages: 69-103                                        Total Pages: 103/1815

Ahead/Behind: -71 pages