Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Pavonicide



In the short story Reginald on House Parties, by Saki (H.H. Munro), the character Reginald muses on the fact that hosts and hostesses usually know their houseguests only in the most superficial way. He has been invited to a shooting party. After missing his turn at shooting a partridge from about five yards away, he is teased mercilessly that night by his fellow guests.

The next morning, he rises at dawn and goes out hunting alone: “I hunted up the most conspicuous thing in the bird line that I could find, and measured the distance, as nearly as it would let me, and shot away all I know.” He ends up killing the estate’s pet peacock.

“They said afterwards that it was a tame bird; that’s simply SILLY, because it was awful wild at the first few shots.” He notes that the hostess stared him down as he left. His comment is, “Some hostesses, of course will forgive anything, even unto pavonicide (is there such a word?), as long as one is nice-looking and sufficiently unusual to counterbalance some of the others . . . .”

Pavonicide means the killing of peacocks. It is based on the Latin word pavo, a peacock. A more common term is pavonine, resembling a peacock. Obsolete adjectives include pavonaceous, pavonated, pavonian, and panovious.

So know your bird before you pull the trigger.


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 some podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.





Monday, April 09, 2018

Frantic/Frenetic & Eager/Anxious





Mildred from Kalkaska asked about the difference between frantic and frenetic. Both are practically synonyms (Merriam-Webster defines frenetic as frantic), but there are shades of difference in meaning. Both describe hyperactivity resulting from the pressure of an event or a deadline. To my mind, frantic is a bit more negative and emotional. It verges on loss of control. Frenetic, on the other hand, seems to signify a degree of control, however tenuous. Rescuers become frantic as the hours roll on after an earthquake, so they engage in frenetic activity. Frenetic pairs with frenzied, and frantic pairs with desperate.

Frenetic tracks back to a Greek word meaning a delirious mind. It was originally a medical condition. Frantic is connected to the same Greek word. The insanity part has been diluted through the centuries.

Peter from Traverse City commented on the difference between eager and anxious. He asked if I was anxious for golf season to begin, then quickly changed it to eager. Of the two, anxious is more negative and stressful, based as it is on the word anxiety. It comes from a Latin word meaning to strangle, which would certainly cause distress and apprehension. Eager means filled with positive desire, keenly anticipating something imminent. It comes from an Anglo-Norman word that meant impatiently desirous. So I am eager for golf to begin again, but anxious that my worsening arthritis may make my game even more wretched than it has been.

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 some podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.




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