Monday, February 25, 2013

Cool words

Just a few words I've stumbled across that I really like.  For whatever reason.

Immiserate.  v.  I never knew there was a word specifically for making people or conditions miserable.  Just found this in 1491, p. 350.  "In their home ecosystems these species have, like all living things, a full complement of parasites, microbes, viruses, and insect predators to shorten and immiserate their lives."  Mosquitoes can sure as heck immiserate my life!

Bloviate.  v.  To go on and on, windily and without much meaning.  This one isn't in a lot of dictionaries, which is a shame, because it was invented for politicians.  To describe them, that is.  It may have originally just meant idle chatter (see Wikipedia), but Warren Harding used it to describe political speech and there it stays.  Politicians bloviate from one day's end to the next.

Weskit.  n.  Waistcoat; what we in the States would call a vest, as a man's garment (the vest in a 3-piece suit).  Hobbits wear weskits.

Kvetchable.  I don't think this is a real word, but it was in today's paper and I love it.

Making distinctions: hurt vs.  harm.  I'm not sure that this is completely 100% per the dictionary, but this last six weeks of recovering from foot surgery has taught me the difference between hurt and harm pretty effectively.  Bottom line: lots of things hurt the blasted foot, but very few do any actual harm.  Physical therapy hurts, but far from doing harm, it is necessary if I want the thing to stop hurting.  Go figure.

And to go with my earlier post on not misusing words, this one is for the record: 
Literally.  An adverb meaning something should be taken in the literal sense, i.e. exactly according to it's meaning.  So if you tell me lunch was so late you literally starved to death, I'd better be looking at your lifeless body.  Now, my copy of Webster's admits the use of it as a form of emphasis, but the OED does not, and I'm with Oxford this time.  Using "literally" to emphasize a figure of speech makes no sense.  Just don't do it.


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