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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Words of the Day: Special Edition

Today's words are some of those which sound nothing like they should. Mandy will just have to live with the fact that I am not giving myself points for these, mainly because I already knew the definitions for most of them.

1. Pulchritude. Might as well mean ugliness instead of beauty. Or at least something like a bad attitude.

2. Bucolic. Sounds like some sort of disease that causes gassy indigestion rather than relating to a rural countryside.

3. Flummery. Should be an adjective used to describe a woman who wears flowing, ankle-length skirts, grows her hair really long, and flings her arms around a lot when she talks. Or maybe it should just describe Stevie Nicks. She seems very flummery. But flummery is actually a noun, and it is a soft jelly or porridge made with flour or meal. Ew. I like my version better.

4. Lacunae. Ought to be a synonym for chrysalis. Don't ask me why. It seems I am coming across it everywhere, and I still don't know what it means. It's the plural of lacuna, which is the title of Barbara Kingsolver's newest novel (I haven't read it). Grushin used it in The Dream Life of Sukhanov. "She had never been easy to understand, and he had long since learned to allow her small pockets of privacy by not dwelling on her manifold silences and not pursuing to its hidden origin her every expression or gesture or even absence, habitually interpreting these mysterious lacunae as evidence of her unique brand of feminine mystique." I am also re-reading The Amnesiac, and in it the main character, James, is trying to recall a song. He can only think of two of its lines, which are followed by, "Ellipsis. Lacuna. And then . . . the chorus." My guess would be something like "empty space." Webster says: Well, would you look at that. Of course it doesn't mean chrysalis, but it does mean a blank space or missing part; gap; a small cavity, pit, or discontinuity in an anatomical structure. 

5. Gred. My first college roommate and I wondered how people began using words like "cool" and "rad" to mean, well, "cool" and "rad." We figured it had to start somewhere, so we decided to make up our own word: Gred. It didn't catch on.

What would you add to the list?

12 comments:

Stephanie said...

This post is totally gred. My problem is that I sometimes get caught up in the way a word sounds and have trouble separating it from the actual meaning. And yes, bucolic sounds WAY too much like a disease to conjure pastoral landscapes! :-P

Spangle said...

'Pulchritude' must be one of the most ironic words ever! It not only looks ugly on the page, but also sounds it too.

Melody said...

Pulchritude would be at the top of my list too--it sounds like the essence of icky, revolting, ugliness. Its the perfect word to taunt someone with (You are pulchritudinous!). Except I'm not mean like that. :)

Amanda said...

I can live without the points on this one, it's entertaining to see how your mind works! I'll be on the lookout for some of these words, but I need to remember to keep a scrape of paper and a pencil with me!

We had the same conversation in college about creating a new word for cool, we went with buick, that never took off either but we had fun with it.

I am excited you are reading The Amnesiac again, now I can pick your brain, watch out!

Kathy said...

Hahaha, Stephanie, you rock!! YOU'RE gred!!

Spangle and Melody--I totally agree. There may not be an uglier-sounding word than pulchritude! It sounds like someone puking.

Haha, Mandy, I can't believe we had the same idea. I can't explain why mine never caught on :P but maybe yours didn't because Buicks just aren't cool. ;) Though, I don't know, somehow I like yours better! Should we try again? :)

Lesa said...

hahahahah-- every time I hear the word pulchritude I think of latin class. Pulcher is latin for beauty and there was a boy in class whose last name was Pulcher-- not an attractive boy-- I could hardly stand it!!! No one laughed or teased him about it that I remember-- I found it very funny though.

Kathy said...

Lesa--you took Latin? That's buick! ;) I almost feel sorry for the poor little Pulcher boy . . .

Lesa said...

Yes-- 2 yrs in highschool. It was fun but I would've been better served to take Spanish. I did take one year of Spanish in 8th grade.

Kathy said...

You probably shouldn't regret that. If you're like me, you would have forgotten any language you learned in high school. ;) But if you really do have regrets--and if you come across a windfall or large inheritance--you can learn Spanish through Rosetta Stone!

Amanda said...

I think you can get Rosetta Stone at the library. I mean if you were really so inclined to relearn.

Lesa said...

If I come into a ton of money, I won't bother with any rosetta stone-- I will move to Spain and immerse! hahahaha

Kathy said...

The library! Now why didn't I think of that? Although, considering how ill-stocked my local library is, I'm guessing that wouldn't be an option here.

So Lesa, would Spain be your first choice? Or would you just move around from country to country and learn all of the languages? :)