Wendy asked for a
comment on the words facetious and sarcastic. My immediate on-air reaction was
that something facetious is positive and stands on the lighter side, while
something sarcastic is negative and is meant to hurt.
This is borne out by
their respective etymologies. Facetious comes from a Latin word that meant
witty or humorous. Sarcastic came from a Greek word that meant tearing the
flesh from the bone. Ouch!
Synonyms for these words
line up the same way. Allied with facetious are raillery, jocular, and
frivolous. Raillery is a type of mockery, and it comes from a Latin word that
meant to howl or bellow. Jocular indicates a tendency to jest; it came from a
Latin word that meant a joke. Frivolous means lacking seriousness, and it came
from a Latin word meaning paltry.
Lining up with sarcastic
are mordant, acerbic, and sardonic. Mordant means biting, and it comes from a
Latin word that meant the same. An acerbic comment is bitter or sharp, and it
meant harsh-tasting in Latin. Sardonic means scornful or mocking, and it has a
strange origin. It refers to Sardinia, specifically to a eating a Sardinian
plant (herba sardonia) which
was said to produce facial convulsions resembling horrible laughter. The attack
invariably ended in death.
Check out Mike's other books here:
Listen to Mike’s program
in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to
wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The
Ron Jolly Show.
[Note: I'm working on the 3rd edition of my Word Parts Dictionary, so the entries on this blog may be a bit sporadic for the next three months.]