Posts tagged words.
“it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a word”
i’m pretty sure that’s the point of words
to mean established things in order to make communication possible
There needs to be a code word or something that means “my brain is fighting me every step of the way today and I feel like I’m going to vibrate out of my skin, so I need you to forgive everything and go slowly and speak softly and lower your expectations.” And then we could all just be like, “I know I said we could go to a movie tonight but… tangerines.” And the other person would nod and squeeze your elbow or rub your head and you wouldn’t feel like a failure.
When some words have hit the big time, they’ve left clunky related words behind.
While “exhaust,” from the Latin for “draw out of,” was first attested in 1540 and went on to a great career in the English vocabulary, “inhaust,” with the meaning “draw into,” was attested in 1547 (something about a “flye inhausted into a mannes throte sodenly”) but soon became obsolete.
You know about “omniscient,” which comes from the Latin for “all knowing,” but did you know there was a counterpart meaning “not knowing”? You can now consider yourself more-scient!
“Exsuscitate” was around in the 1500s, as was “resuscitate,” but where “resuscitate” was for the act of bringing someone back from the dead, “exsuscitate” was for the less impressive act of rousing or waking someone up from sleep. It didn’t stick, and it doesn’t look likely to be resuscitated.
“Postliminary” has a technical use in international law, where it refers to the “right of postliminy” (stuff taken in war gets returned), but it’s also been used sporadically since the early 19th century as the opposite of “preliminary.”
If your incantation turns out to be a magic spell that somehow gets you in a jam, it might be good to be able to perform an excantation to get yourself out of it. Too bad the word, attested in 1580, is now obsolete.
It wouldn’t be fun to be the subject of an incrimination, but it might be a little more fun to be part of a concrimination with your friends, meaning “a joint accusation.” The word shows up in a 1656 dictionary, but we have no evidence that anyone ever used it.
Back in 1600 the word “inaugurate” was used to describe a ceremonial act of consecration or induction into office, but there was also the word “exaugurate” meaning, according to the OED, “To cancel the inauguration of; to unhallow, make profane.”
Age-otori (Japanese): To look worse after a haircut
Arigata-meiwaku (Japanese): An act someone does for you that you didn’t want to have them do and tried to avoid having them do, but they went ahead anyway, determined to do you a favor, and then things went wrong and caused you a lot of trouble, yet in the end social conventions required you to express gratitude
Backpfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist
Forelsket (Norwegian): The euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love
Gigil (pronounced Gheegle; Filipino): The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute
Litost (Czech): A state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery
Manja (Malay): “To pamper,” it describes gooey, childlike, and coquettish behavior by women designed to elicit sympathy or pampering by men
Pena ajena (Mexican Spanish): The embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation
Sgriob (Gaelic): The itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whisky
Tatemae and Honne (Japanese): What you pretend to believe and what you actually believe, respectively
Tingo (Pascuense language of Easter Island): To borrow objects one by one from a neighbor’s house until there is nothing left
Waldeinsamkeit (German): The feeling of being alone in the woods
L’esprit de l’escalier (French): Usually translated as “staircase wit,” the act of thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late to deliver it
— Maurice Lucas Goes IN (via sonofbaldwin)
n. the glint of goodness inside people, which you can only find by sloshing them back and forth in your mind until everything dark and gray and common falls away, leaving behind a constellation at the bottom of the pan—a rare element trapped in exposed bedrock, washed there by a storm somewhere upstream.