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Archive for the ‘Grammar / Syntax’ Category

Shibboleth

Posted by kazvorpal on January 17, 2013


Shibboleth: Southerner vs YankeesShibboleth

A term, trait, belief, or action used to identify people belonging to the same group

Example:

The liberty of the citizen to do as he likes so long as he does not interfere with the liberty of others to do the same, which has been a shibboleth for some well known writers, is interfered with by school laws, by the Post Office, by every state or municipal institution which takes his money for purposes thought desirable, whether he likes it or not.
Oliver Wendel Holmes, Jr. Lochner v. New York

He boldly challenged the most cherished shibboleths of American political thought…a systematic critique of the very principle of American democracy.
— S. T. Joshi, Mencken’s America (2004)

During the war Gramsci drew these concerns together in a vitriolic attack on the favourite shibboleth of prewar anarchism and socialism: Esperanto.
Carl Levy, Libertarian Socialism: Politics in Black and Red (2012)

But maybe prayer is a road to rise,
A mountain path leading toward the skies
To assist the spirit who truly tries.
But it isn’t a shibboleth, creed, nor code,
It isn’t a pack-horse to carry your load,
It isn’t a wagon, it’s only a road.
And perhaps the reward of the spirit who tries
Is not the goal, but the exercise!
— Edmund Vance Cooke, Prayer, The Uncommon Commoner.

Etymology:

According to Judges 12 of the Old Testament, people called Ephraimites were unable to say “shibboleth” (a word meaning “flood”), pronouncing it “sibboleth”. This allows them to be identified and killed by enemy Gileadites:

And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; 6 Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

Judges 12:4-6

Posted in Culture, Grammar / Syntax, history | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Aphorism

Posted by kazvorpal on January 10, 2011


Aphorism

A defining observation of the truth, always short

Examples:

The great writers of aphorisms read as if they had all known each other very well.
— Elias Canetti, The Human Province (1942–1972)

Santayana’s aphorism must be reversed: too often it is those who can remember the past who are condemned to repeat it.
— Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr, The Bitter Heritage: Vietnam and American Democracy

The poem and the aphorism are Nietzsche’s two most vivid means of expression but they have a determinate relation to philosophy.
— Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and philosophy (1962)

Etymology:

  • Aphorismus, Latin for “to define”

Posted in Grammar / Syntax, Knowledge | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nefandous

Posted by kazvorpal on January 7, 2011


Chthulu, on the Nefandous Southpark

Nefandous

Unspeakable.

A most severe pejorative

Examples:

Then the earth
In birth nefandous Coeus life produced
And Iapetus and Typhoeus dire
And that bad brotherhood which joined in league
To abolish heaven
— Dante Alighieri, Inferno (1308)

Only the bricks of the chimney, the stones of the cellar, some mineral and metallic litter here and there, and the rim of that nefandous well.
— H.P. Lovecraft, The Colour out of Space (1927)

No Topsman to your Tarpeia! This thing, Mister Abby, is nefand.
—  James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

Etymology:

  • In Latin, ne = not, fandus = to speak

Posted in Grammar / Syntax, history, poetry | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Logolepsy

Posted by kazvorpal on July 28, 2010


Logolepsy

n. A severe fascination or obsession with words

Pretty straighforward

Examples:

Thanks to the magic of teleconferencing, often the format for a given show is call-in, and the phones and airwaves crackle with logolepsy.
— Richard Lederer, A Man of My Words (2003)

A case of logolepsy is easily distinguished from the perfectly sane mood which demands and imperiosly seizes the pregnant sign, and makes it the exponent of a hidden power.
— Maurice Thompson, My winter garden: a nature-lover under southern skies (1900)

Etymology:

Logos is Greek for “word”, -lepsy is Greek, “to seize”


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Solecism

Posted by kazvorpal on October 4, 2009


Surely there is no fitter solecistic archetype than Huck Fin.

We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.

Solecism (plural Solecisms)

n. A grammatical mistake or absurdity, or even simply a non-standard language usage.

  • We don’t need no education! (Pink Floyd’s infamous double-negative self-refutation.)
  • This is just between you and I. (Hypercorrection to avoid the common, nonstandard “you and me” form in the subject of sentences…in this case, “me” would have been correct, the standard pronoun for the object of a preposition.)
  • Surely there is no fitter solecistic archetype than Huck Finn. (While fitter is a valid construction, the grammatical norm in English is to say “more fitting” — an example of how valid language can still be a solecism.)

Etymology:
In ancient Greece, the colony of Soli in Sicily spoke a very corrupted version of Greek, and came to be seen as a model of silly language usage.

Posted in Grammar / Syntax | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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