Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Brass Monkey Shivers



Once again, in honor of the weather that we're experiencing in these northern climes, let's look at a small sampling of COLD words today.

  • aggelation: the act of freezing to or congealing about [L. gelare, to freeze]
  • algefacient: having the power to make cold [L. algere, to be cold]
  • algid: cold, esp. the cold stage of an ague [L. algidus, cold]
  • algific: causing cold [L. algificus, causing cold]
  • cheimaphobia: abnormal fear of winter [Gr. cheimos, winter, cold]
  • cryobiology: the study of the effect of low temperatures on living organisms [Gr. kruos, frost, icy cold]
  • cryogen: a freezing mixture [Gr. kruos, frost, icy cold]
  • frigiferous: bringing cold [L. frigus, cold]
  • gelid: extremely cold [L. gelidus, icy cold]
  • pagophagia: compulsive desire to eat ice cubes [Gr. pagos, freezing]
  • psychrophilic: capable of growing at temperatures close to freezing [Gr. psuchros, cold]
  • psychrophobia: fear or hatred of cold, esp. cold water [Gr. psuchros, cold]
  • rhigosis: the ability to feel cold [Gr. rhigos, cold]

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

Check out Mike's program-based books here:
 Amazon.com

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.

Visit The Senior Corner, a web site containing information for senior citizens.



Sunday, January 27, 2013

Aftermath



Jeannie wrote, “Every time there’s a mass shooting, the talking heads are certain to use the words in the aftermath. I’m confused about the math part. Could they be referring to the number of people killed?"

Interesting question. This is a case where modern spelling hides the real origin. The original spelling was aftermowth. If you catch the word mow in there, you’re close to the answer.

Old English took the mowth/math forms from similar Old Frisian and Old Saxon words. The reference was to an area of a field that had recently been mowed. The new growth was the aftermath — what came up after mowing.

By the 17th century, the word took on a figurative meaning: a period of time following a significant destructive event.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

Check out Mike's program-based books here:
 Amazon.com


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.




Saturday, January 26, 2013

Spelling Bee

I'm occupied today with preparing for this event.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Glamor of Prestige



Two words that have surprising hidden meanings are glamor and prestige. In our time, glamor means charm, attractiveness, and physical beauty. Prestige means a person's standing in the estimation of others. It is usually based on reputation and industrial-strength achievement, making it a deeper and more desirable quality than mere skin-deep glamor.

Here comes the hidden part. Originally, glamor in English meant magic, enchantment, and a spell. In the original Greek, it meant the study of letters, the methodical study of literature. This included all literature and learning, so at one stage of history, magic, astrology, and the occult arts were included. The Old French gramaire was sometimes used as a name for the dark arts, and –gr– eventually turned into –gl–.

Originally, prestige meant an illusion produced by magic. The Latin praestīgia meant a trick, deceit, or illusion. Since such dazzling acts often produced admiration and amazement, the more positive sense of respect developed.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

Check out Mike's program-based books here:
 Amazon.com


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.

Visit The Senior Corner, a web site containing information for senior citizens.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dope



Pete from Traverse City called in to comment on a word that has many meanings: dope. It came into English from the Dutch word doop, meaning a sauce made for dipping.   

Most of us will think of an illegal drug like heroin or a really stupid person when we hear the word dope, but there are many other meanings.

  • a narcotic used to enhance the performance of a racehorse.
  • factual information (the inside dope). 
  • an absorbent material used in certain manufacturing processes.
  • a type of lacquer used to waterproof and tauten the cloth surfaces of airplane wings in the early days of aviation.
  • a regionalism for a carbonated cola.
  • a syrup or sweet sauce that is poured on ice cream.
  • any thick liquid or semi-fluid used as an article of food or as a lubricant.
  • a substance added to gasoline or other fuel to increase its efficiency.
  • slang for excellent or impressive.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

Check out Mike's program-based books here:
 Amazon.com


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.




Sunday, January 13, 2013

Oh, Spiss!



The letter sequence –spiss– is rarely used, but it is consistent in its meaning when it appears. It comes from a Latin word that means thick.

Inspissation is used in medicine to designate the formation of plugs in ducts—plugs formed by a thickened viscid material. It is a factor in cystic fibrosis, for instance. Here is a snippet from a medical journal: “Cystic fibrosis is characterized by the elaboration of abnormal, thick, tenacious mucus resulting in obstructive disease in sites such as the lung and pancreas.” [Inspissation of pancreatic zymogen material in cystic fibrosis, by Tucker JA, Spock A, Spicer SS, et al.]

Inspissation is also used in the culinary arts and in brewing. It is a thickening process that may be accomplished by boiling, evaporating, condensing, or adding a bonding agent. Here is an example from Cook’s Second Voyage: “I now made three puncheons of beer, of the inspissated juice of malt. The proportion I made use of was about ten barrels of water to one of juice. Fifteen of the nineteen half barrels of the inspissated juice we had on board, was produced from wort that was hopped before inspissated.”

Here are some other words using the letter sequence.
  • spiscious: of a thick consistency
  • spiss: thick, dense, compact
  • spissated: thickened
  • spissed:  thickened, condensed
  • spissitude:  thickness, density, compactness
  • spissy: dense, compact

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

Check out Mike's program-based books here:
 Amazon.com

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.

Visit The Senior Corner, a web site containing information for senior citizens.



Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Bite My Byte



                                                                  George Boole


On yesterday’s radio program, the idea of small quantities and the words that express them came up. They included words such as

  • tad    [1940]  a small amount. Possibly from tadpole, the early stage of a frog or toad.
  • skosh    [1951] a small amount. From the Japanese sukoshi, a little or short. The word was picked up by soldiers stationed in the orient.
  • dab [1729] a small or trifling amount. From a dialectical use of the word that meant a slight blow or slap with the back of the hand. 
  • smidgeon  [1845] a small amount. Possibly a variation of smitch [1840], a particle or bit.
  • bit  [1200]  a small amount (of food). From bite.
  • jot [1526] a very small amount.  From iota, the smallest Greek letter.
  • speck [1400] A small or minute particle of something. From the Dutch speckle, a speck.
  • nip [1736] a small quantity (of spirits). Possibly from the Dutch nippen, to sip.
  • scintilla [1686] a minute particle. From the Latin scintilla, a minute particle.
  • mite [1375] an insignificant amount. Figurative use of a Dutch word that meant a small coin of low value.
  • shred [1000] a scrap or fragment. From a Frisian word meaning a clipping from a coin.
  • ort [1325] a scrap or fragment (of food). From a Frisian word meaning fodder left by cattle.

The mention of bit being derived from bite prompted listeners Hugh, Chris, and Dave to bring up the word byte, a group of eight consecutive bits operated on as a unit in a computer. In 1956, IBM’s Werner Buchholz came up with the spelling byte to avoid confusion with bit or bite.

They also pointed out that computer logic was Boolean, raising the question, where did that adjective come from? Aristotle’s classic version of logic was based on two types of propositions: true or false. George Boole wrote a book in 1854 with the lengthy title, An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on Which Are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities. He laid the foundations of Boolean algebra, which transposed Aristotle’s true/false into 1/0. Boole had no way of knowing that this concept would lead, a century later, to computer operations.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

Check out Mike's program-based books here:
 Amazon.com

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.

Visit The Senior Corner, a web site containing information for senior citizens.



Saturday, January 05, 2013

Adult Spelling Bee


BIG BRAIN ADULT SPELLING BEE

at Right Brain Brewery
Traverse City, Michigan
to support Big Brothers Big Sisters
Saturday January 26, 2013
7:00 pm

Teams of 1 to 3 people
$20 to register and receive
  • cool T-shirt
  • freaky fast food from Jimmy John’s
  • exclusive beer blend: Guidance
  • big beer/little price drink specials

Sign up today at bigsupnorth.com
or before January 15 for a chance to win
an overnight stay at the Great Wolf Lodge

Top prize for winning team:
Weekend Stay at GTR

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Deprecate



Max from Cadillac asked whether deprecate and depreciate are simply variant spellings of the same word. The answer is no.

Originally, to deprecate was to pray against evil, whether to avert it altogether or to remove it. It comes from a Latin word that meant to request. Its opposite is imprecate, meaning to call evil upon someone. In our day, the word deprecate has been secularized and often is taken to mean to express disapproval, to disparage, to belittle. Some commentators see this as confusion with the next word, depreciate.

Depreciate means to lower in value. It comes from a Latin word meaning price. Its opposite is appreciate, to increase in value. The word precious is a first cousin. While most people use precious to mean dear or close to the heart, it originally meant a commodity that was valuable or pricey.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition
Check out Mike's program-based books here:
 Amazon.com

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.

Visit The Senior Corner, a web site containing information for senior citizens.



Dona Sheehan's prints