Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Words of the Day (with a few additional random tidbits)

Time for more Dictionary Fun! I picked up a couple of weird words in my current read, The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor. At first I thought they were just misspellings (on purpose, of course), but my foray into the dictionary showed otherwise. The other three words are yet more orphans, as I can not recall where I found them. Starting with Taylor's two words first:

1. Diktats. "But, disobeying the diktats of my mind, my fingers creep to the mouse and click on the camera icon." I always thought this was spelled "dictates" (the noun form, not the verb), which basically refers to a thing that someone in charge has told you to do. Could these be two alternate spellings of the same word? Webster says: Not exactly, but close enough. (No, Webster didn't actually come out and say that, but it is.) Webster defines a diktat as a harsh settlement unilaterally imposed; a decree or . . . dictate! Surprisingly (to me), diktat is pronounced differently from dictate. The emphasis is on the second syllable, which rhymes with "hot" instead of "hate." Pretty interesting, but I have a feeling I won't be using that one much in every day conversations. Chalk up a point for me anyway.

2. Tocsin. Same book as above. In the chapters narrated by Finn, Taylor uses some sort of weird dialect with lots of misspellings, and though this word was found in one of the father's chapters, I thought some of that dialect had slipped in on him unawares when he meant to say "toxin." On the other hand, "poison" doesn't fit the context. "I stare at the dark mark with my heart clanging like a tocsin." Toxins don't clang. A tocsin must be some sort of bell. But would your heart really clang like a bell? Anyway, Webster says: An alarm bell; a warning signal. Ding! I'm up to two points.

3. Derogated. I am guessing this is related to "derogatory," which brings to mind slander or defamation of character. Sorry, no context clues for you on this one, as they are long-lost. Webster says: Detracted; taken away so as to impair; acted beneath one's position or character. So, yes, definitely related to derogatory, but it sounds like something you do to yourself instead of to someone else. Half a point, I guess.

4. Infundibuliform. What the heck? It has to have something to do with some sort of body part. (Yeah, you know, the infundibulum. Which is . . . ) Well, I know it's not shaped like the appendix, because that would be "vermiform," right? I'm sure it's probably some special little lump on some sort of bone. Webster says: Having the form of a funnel or a cone. Oops. Well, cone rhymes with bone . . . no? Well, at least bodily organs do come up: the part of the brain that attaches the pituitary gland, the calyx of a kidney, and the abdominal opening of a Fallopian tube are all infundibuliform. Again, not something I think I can work into casual conversation, and I sure would like to know where I found it in a book. A quarter of a point for knowing it was somehow related to anatomy.

5. Unctuous. I think I know this one. Doesn't it kind of describe a greasy suck-up? Like your typical used car salesman? Webster says: Fatty, oily, smooth and greasy in texture or appearance; smug, ingratiating, with false earnestness or spirituality; used car salesman. (OK, I added that last bit, but you know it belongs there). That's another point.

Let's see how I did. 3.75 out of 5? Maybe I'll do better next time.

Now I'm going to slip in a couple of little off-topic tidbits instead of making a whole new post for them. First of all, today is what I've been hearing people call a "blogiversary"! My very first post was exactly one year ago. Well . . . I didn't actually start this blog until June 2009, because at the end of May I was here, but when I got back I wanted to write about the five books I'd read while I was gone. I just changed the post dates to reflect the day I finished each of those books. So I guess today is really just a faux-versary, but I'm still proud that I've blogged about all of the books I've read for a whole year! (I have spared you most of the bedtime stories, though.)

Second of all, here are the "following" poll results, in case you haven't looked at them yet. I'm not sure how long I'll leave the poll up there on the sidebar now that voting is closed, but for now you can still see what the six options were. I am amazed (and relieved!) that 100% of the 9 voters are just like me and only follow the blogs they're most interested in! That, and the thread on the Ning Book Blogs site, did much to assuage my guilt. Speaking of that site, you should check it out here.


Emidy said...

I love learning new words! I actually didn't know the definitions of any of those. Oh, and happy Blogoversary!

Kathy said...

Thank you! :)

Leah said...

Congratulations on blogging about books you love for a year. Thanks for stopping by our blog. I love your interest in looking up words you don't know. I have been doing this lately to surprising results (as I noted is the case for you, too). Have you ever heard of the book Word Power Made Easy? I got it back in the day when preparing for the PSAT's. I have kept it all this time and go back to it periodically for a brush-up on all the roots of words.
I am following your blog now (doesn't that sound stalker-like?).

Kathy said...

'Sokay, I love stalkers. ;) At least blogger lets us call ourselves "followers" instead of something like "toadies."

Is your Word Power book put out by Reader's Digest? They have a regular feature in their magazine called "Word Power," which is very similar to my Word of the Day posts, but with multiple choice answers.

Kate said...

Happy Blogoversary!!!

Jo said...

Ah, i had to look up tocsin too!