Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 26

...tired and low on supplies. Marching forward and still on schedule...it's a long trail, but morale is still high.

blad - a flier or other promotional material distributed by a company to sell a product.

I've got good news and I've got blad news

bleeding heart -
1. any of various plants belonging to the genus Dicentra, of the fumitory family, esp. D. spectabilis, a common garden plant having long, one-sided clusters of rose or red heart-shaped flowers.
2. a person who makes an ostentatious or excessive display of pity or concern for others

blepharoplasty - plastic surgery of the eyelid, used to remove epicanthic folds, sagging tissue, or wrinkles around the eyes or to repair injury to the eyelid.

I definitely intend to get this for my 40th birthday, so I can still hit on 18 year old chicks.

blindsight - the ability of a blind person to sense accurately a light source or other visual stimulus even though unable to see it consciously.

blockbusting - the profiteering practice by unscrupulous real-estate agents or speculators of reselling or renting homes that they obtain by inducing panic selling at prices below value, esp. by exploiting racial prejudices.

How do you think Blockbuster did so well? Coincidence? Or conspiracy...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 25

biogen - a hypothetical protein molecule, large and unstable, once assumed to be basic to fundamental biological processes.

biostatics - the branch of biology dealing with the structure of organisms in relation to their functions

biostatistics - the application of statistics to biological and medical data.

bippy - an unspecified part of the anatomy (usually used in the phrase You bet your (sweet) bippy).

bird farm - an aircraft carrier.

Because that's the first thing that comes into your mind when you think "bird farm"

Birds, the - a comedy (414 b.c.) by Aristophanes.

Alfred Hitchcock's remake really failed to capture the spirit of humor in the original.

bissextus - February 29th: the extra day added to the Julian calendar every fourth year (except those evenly divisible by 400) to compensate for the approximately six hours a year by which the common year of 365 days falls short of the solar year.

Dictionary Highlights: Day 24

Bias - Greek philosopher, born in Ionia.

I wonder if he sold his views as fair and balanced

stick one's bib in - Australian Informal. to interfere.

bib and tucker - clothes: to dress in one's best bib and tucker.

bibliomancy - divination by means of a book, esp. the Bible, opened at random to some verse or passage, which is then interpreted.

Ok. Let's open the Bible to a random verse and..."There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD" (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

Big O - orgasm

Maybe Wilt Chamberlain would have been a better candidate for this name

bingle - Australian Informal. a collision, esp. an automobile accident.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 23

Berea - a city in NE Ohio, near Cleveland. 19,567.

berakhah - a blessing or benediction, usually recited according to a traditional formula.

I think ArtScroll transliterates it "bracha" but there are so many different transliterations of this word.

bertha - a collar or trimming, as of lace, worn about the shoulders by women, as over a low-necked waist or dress.

bespectacled - wearing eyeglasses.

I'll take "unnecessarily fancy words" for $200, Alex.

bestiary - a collection of moralized fables, esp. as written in the Middle Ages, about actual or mythical animals.

Beverly -
1. a city in NE Massachusetts. 37,655.
2. Also, Bev⋅er⋅ley. a female or male given name: from an Old English word meaning “dweller at the beaver meadow.”

Dweller at the beaver meadow? I can't wait to inform every Beverly I meet about this lovely fact.

Dictionary Highlights: Day 22

Bedloe's Island - former name of Liberty Island

the bee's knees - Older Slang. (esp. in the 1920s) a person or thing that is wonderful, great, or marvelous: Her new roadster is simply the bee's knees.

I hope this expression makes a comeback

beefalo -
1. a hybrid animal that is 3/8 to 3/32 buffalo, the remaining genetic component being domestic cow, bred for disease resistance and for meat with low fat content.
2. the meat of such an animal

Why 3/8 to 3/32 buffalo? Is 1/4 buffalo to buffaloy to crowd out the beef?

Bellatrix - a blue-white giant star in the constellation Orion, with apparent magnitude +1.63.

belly-helve - In metalworking, a triphammer in which the cams act at a point along the helve, partway between the fulcrum and the head.

belly-wash - any barely drinkable liquid or beverage, as inferior soda, beer, coffee, or soup.

The image this triggered in my mind is some pot-bellied guy starring in an Axe body wash commercial.

belomancy - divination using arrows drawn at random from a quiver or other holder.

bench jockey - a vociferous player, coach, or manager who makes a specialty of baiting or harassing the umpires or opposing players, usually from the bench.

Reminds me of an episode of Pete & Pete. I love orange lazarus.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 21

Bayard -
1. a magical legendary horse in medieval chivalric romances.
2. a mock-heroic name for any horse.
3. Archaic. a bay horse.

If you used definition 2 of this word, I doubt most people would get the insult.

bay window -
1. an alcove of a room, projecting from an outside wall and having its own windows, esp. one having its own foundations. Compare bow window, oriel.
2. Informal. a large, protruding belly; paunch

Love the second definition. I will add this to my daily vocabulary.

beam weapon - a laser-beam or particle-beam weapon, also called a directed energy device.

I can't believe this is in the dictionary. Do we have all this crazy sci-fi stuff yet?

beat poets - numerous U.S. poets concentrated in California in the 1950s and noted chiefly for their rejection of poetic as well as social conventions, exemplified through experimental, often informal phrasing and diction and formless verse that attempts to capture spontaneity of thought and feeling.

I'd love to go to one of these esoteric poetry slams, recite a string of brand names, and call it a poem.

beau -
1. a frequent and attentive male companion.
2. a male escort for a girl or woman.
3. a dandy; fop.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 20

baryon number - a quantum number assigned to elementary particles, baryons having baryon number 1, antibaryons −1, and all other observable particles 0; quarks have baryon number 1/3 and antiquarks −1/3.

Those other observable particles got shafted

bashibazouk - (formerly) one of a class of irregular mounted troops in the Turkish military service.

See? There is such a thing as an army irregular!

basically - fundamentally

If I get to "fundamentally" and find it is defined as "basically" I am going to kill the editor of this dictionary

Basic English - a simplified form of English restricted to an 850-word vocabulary and a few rules of grammar, intended esp. as an international auxiliary language and for use in teaching English as a foreign language: devised by Charles Kay Ogden.

I never realized this was a technical term

basinet -
1. a globular or pointed helmet of the 14th century, often provided with a visor or aventail: evolved from the cervellière. Compare great basinet.
2. a supplementary cap that is worn underneath a helm, as an arming cap.

bassinet -
1. a basket with a hood over one end, for use as a baby's cradle.
2. a style of perambulator resembling this.

Same pronunciation, slightly different spelling, totally different meanings

Bathinette - a trademarked item used for a portable bathtub for babies

Slightly different name, really unoriginal idea

batman - a soldier assigned to an officer as a servant.

I wonder if Bob Kane ever knew this word was in the dictionary

John Searle on Materialism

“‘There is exactly one overriding question in contemporary philosophy . . . . How do we fit in? . . . How can we square this self-conception of ourselves as mindful, meaning-creating, free, rational, etc., agents with a universe that consists entirely of mindless, meaningless, unfree, nonrational, brute physical particles?’

For the scientific naturalist, the answer is, ‘Not very well.’”

- J. P. Moreland in God is Great, God is Good (p. 34), quoting John Searle, Freedom & Neurobiology (pp. 4-5).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 19

banana oil -
1. a sweet-smelling liquid ester, C7H14O2, a mixture of isomers derived from amyl alcohol and having the characteristic odor of bananas: used chiefly as a paint solvent and in artificial fruit flavors; amyl acetate.
2. Slang. insincere talk; nonsense.

Mixes well with snake oil

bangtail - a racehorse.

bantling - a very young child.

Something something Michael Jackson something something. Hahahaha!

barabara - an Alaskan or north Siberian semisubterranean house built of sod or turf.

Look at our barabara, Barbara!

baraka - a spiritual power believed to be possessed by certain persons, objects, tombs, etc.

And a totally sweet Mortal Kombat character!

barefoot doctor - (in China) a layperson trained to provide a number of basic health-care services, esp. in rural areas.

Future occupation for my brother Tom (or perhaps Steve)

barghest - a legendary doglike goblin believed to portend death or misfortune.

Bar Harbor - a town on Mount Desert Island, in S Maine: summer resort. 4124.

Also the marriage location of my parents

barnstorm -
1. to conduct a campaign or speaking tour in rural areas by making brief stops in many small towns.
2. Theater. to tour small towns to stage theatrical performances.
3. (of a pilot) to give exhibitions of stunt flying, participate in airplane races, etc., in the course of touring country towns and rural areas.
4. (of a professional athletic team) to tour an area playing exhibition games after the regular season.

Dictionary Highlights: Day 18

back staff - an obsolete instrument for determining the altitude of the sun by facing away from the sun, sighting upon the horizon, adjusting a cursor until its shadow falls upon the sight through which the horizon appears, and measuring the resulting arc.

Obsolete? This looks like an awesome instrument!

backsword -
1. a sword with only one sharp edge; broadsword.
2. (formerly) a cudgel having a basket hilt, used in fencing exhibitions.
3. a backswordman.

I wonder if this can be applied metaphorically to someone's wit (that half is razor sharp and the other half is dull)

backwardation - (on the London stock exchange) the fee paid by a seller of securities to the buyer for the privilege of deferring delivery of purchased securities.

badger plane - in carpentry, a plane for finishing rabbets or the like.

Badger? Rabbets? Is carpentry poaching the vocabulary of hunters?

bafflegab - confusing or generally unintelligible jargon; gobbledegook: an insurance policy written in bafflegab impenetrable to a lay person.

Baile Atha Cliath - Gaelic name of Dublin

I vote that Dublin be henceforth known only by its Gaelic name.

baked alaska - a dessert consisting of ice cream on a cake base, placed briefly in a hot oven to brown its topping of meringue.

Sounds like the title to a really stupid buddy comedy.

baleboste - a capable, efficient housewife, esp. a traditional Jewish one, devoted to maintaining a well-run home.

The many advantages of a traditional Jewish home. Gentiles, take note!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 17

avoirdrupois - Informal. bodily weight: He carries around a lot of excess avoirdupois.

I wonder why this word isn't in common usage

avunulate - a close social relationship between a maternal uncle and his nephew.

axilla -
1. Anatomy. the armpit.
2. Ornithology. the corresponding region under the wing of a bird.
3. Botany. an axil

As in "the axilla fart"

axion - a hypothetical particle having no charge, zero spin, and small mass: postulated in some forms of quantum chromodynamics.

azan - (in Islamic countries) the call to prayer proclaimed five times a day by the muezzin

azimuthal quantum number - the quantum number that designates the orbital angular momentum of a particular quantum state of an electron in an atom and that assumes integral values from zero to one less than the value of the principal quantum number.

Sometimes you need more than a definition in order to understand a word

Azrael - (in Jewish and Islamic angelology) the angel who separates the soul from the body at the moment of death.

Played by Chris Katan

ba - in Egyptian religion, an aspect of the soul, represented as a human-headed bird.

Baal Shem Tov - (Israel ben Eliezer; “Besht”), c1700–60, Ukrainian teacher and religious leader: founder of the Hasidic movement of Judaism.

A group so old-fashioned, that even the ultra-Orthodox black hatters make fun of how they dress

babu -
1. a Hindu title of address equivalent to Sir, Mr., or Esquire.
2. a Hindu gentleman.
3. a native Indian clerk who writes English.
4. Usually Disparaging. any native Indian having only a limited knowledge of English.

bach - "bach it", (as in bachelor) to live alone or share living quarters with someone of the same sex, usually doing one's own housework, cooking, laundry, etc.

Dictionary Highlights: Day 16

Auge - a daughter of King Aleus who became a priestess of Athena. After being raped by Hercules she bore a son, Telephus.

I didn't realize Hercules could be such an unsavory character. I mean, he's played by Kevin Sorbo!

aught - anything whatever; any part: for aught I know

Not to be confused with ought

Aunt Jemima - Slang: Disparaging and Offensive. a black woman considered by other blacks to be subservient to or to curry favor with whites.

Not as offensive as Aunt Jo'Moma

aurify -
1. to cause to appear golden; gild: Dawn came, and sunlight aurified the lead-gray ocean.
2. to transmute into gold.

Another word we should all add to our daily vocabulary

austral - Of, relating to, or coming from the south.

Now we know how they named Australia

autarchy -
1. absolute sovereignty.
2. an autocratic government.
3. autarky.

autarky -
1. the condition of self-sufficiency, esp. economic, as applied to a nation.
2. a national policy of economic independence.

Two words that sound the same, have completely different definitions, yet the first can also mean the second. The English language is confusing!

autodidact - a person who has learned a subject without the benefit of a teacher or formal education; a self-taught person.

Autolycus - Classical Mythology. a thief, the son of Hermes and Chione, and the grandfather of Odysseus. He possessed the power of changing the shape of whatever he stole and of making it and himself invisible.

aver -
1. to assert or affirm with confidence; declare in a positive or peremptory manner.
2. Law. to allege as a fact.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 15

astringer - a person who trains and flies short-winged hawks, as the goshawk.

astrobiology - (not in technical use) exobiology.

Really, really presumptuous to assume that we will ever encounter extraterrestrial life. The probability of any given planet being able to support any sort of life is around 10^280. Cosmologists estimate that there are 10^90 atoms in the observable universe. In addition to that is the travel problem. All planets within a 157 light year radius of us have been shown uninhabitable. No space vessel, no matter how heavily armored, will be able to accelerate to more than 10% of the speed of light without being destroyed by space dust, and wormholes are too narrow to allow anything larger than an electron to pass through them.

asymptotic freedom - a property of the force between quarks, according to quantum chromodynamics, such that they behave almost like free particles when they are close together within a hadron.

ataraxia - a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety; tranquillity.

athirst -
1. having a keen desire; eager (often fol. by for): She has long been athirst for European travel.
2. Archaic for thirsty

Atlantis - a legendary island, first mentioned by Plato, said to have existed in the Atlantic Ocean west of Gibraltar and to have sunk beneath the sea, but linked by some modern archaeologists with the island of Thera, the surviving remnant of a much larger island destroyed by a volcanic eruption c1500 b.c.

Never knew modern archaeology investigated this

Attic - of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Greece or of Athens.

I wonder if the ancient Greeks had attics.

audion - an early type of triode.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 14

Aruru - the Akkadian goddess personifying earth, who assisted Marduk in the creation of human beings: the counterpart of the Sumerian Ki.

Asarah Betevet - a Jewish fast day observed on the 10th day of the month of Tevet in memory of the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem in 586 b.c. by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar.

Asat - (in Vedic mythology) the realm of nonexistence, populated by demons.

How is there a realm of nonexistance?

ascender -
1. a person or thing that ascends or causes ascension.
2. Printing.
a. the part of a lowercase letter, as b, d, f, h, that rises above x-height.
b. a letter rising above x-height, as b, d, f, h, etc.

Aschheim-Zondek test - a test used to detect whether a woman is pregnant by noting the effect on the ovaries of an immature mouse or rabbit injected with her urine.

Did a frat house come up with this test?

ashcake - cornbread baked in hot ashes.

Two more words I didn't expect to see together

Assidean - a member of a sect, characterized by its religious zeal and piety, that flourished in the 2nd century b.c. during the time of the Maccabees and vigorously resisted the Hellenization of Jewish culture and religion.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 13

argy bargy - (British) a vigorous discussion or dispute.

I wonder if this word can be used as an adjective as well

aria -
1. an air or melody.
2. an elaborate melody sung solo with accompaniment, as in an opera or oratorio.

aria de mezzo carattere

Arkansas toothpick - a bowie knife or similar sharp knifelike implement.

I'm going to ask for an Arkansas toothpick the next time I visit a restaurant

armamentarium -
1. the aggregate of equipment, methods, and techniques available to one for carrying out one's duties: The stethoscope is still an essential part of the physician's armamentarium.
2. a fruitful source of devices or materials available or used for an undertaking: The new arts center is an armamentarium for creative activity.

Armenian - a native of Armenia.

Arminian - Of or relating to the theology of Jacobus Arminius and his followers, who rejected the Calvinist doctrines of predestination and election and who believed that human free will is compatible with God's sovereignty.

Let's not confuse the two

arrack - any of various spirituous liquors distilled in the East Indies and other parts of the East and Middle East from the fermented sap of toddy palms, or from fermented molasses, rice, or other materials.

arrah - (Irish interjection, used as an expression of surprise or excitement.)

arrogance of power - presumption on the part of a nation that its power gives it the right to intervene in the affairs of less powerful nations.

Umm...let's just move on to the next word

Articles of War - the body of laws and legal procedures of the U.S. Army and Air Force, replaced in 1951 by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Euphemizing in full swing

art rock - a type of rock music, often with poetic lyrics, characterized by sophisticated harmonic, dynamic, and technical complexity based on forms derived from classical music and requiring performers of considerable training and skill.

Two more words I never thought I would see together

Dictionary Highlights: Day 12

aqueous humor - the limpid watery fluid that fills the space between the cornea and the crystalline lens in the eye.

I thought Spongebob Squarepants would fit this term well.

Aragon -
1. Louis, French novelist, poet, and journalist
2. a region in NE Spain: formerly a kingdom; later a province.

It may not have been a ripoff of the name of Aragorn after all

arba kanfoth - a rectangular piece of cloth with fringes at the four corners and a hole in the center for the head, worn under the clothes by Orthodox Jewish males, also called tallith katan.

Arba kanfoth means four corners

Arcadia -
1. a mountainous region of ancient Greece, traditionally known for the contented pastoral innocence of its people.
2. any real or imaginary place offering peace and simplicity.
3. a city in SW California, E of Los Angeles. 45,994.

I wonder if we'll find Rozarria in the dictionary as well

archon - a higher magistrate in ancient Athens.

For Aiur...

Arcturus - a first-magnitude star in the constellation Boötes.

And its planet, Korhal.

argal - therefore: used facetiously to indicate that the reasoning that had gone before or the conclusion that follows is specious or absurd.

No one knows what this word means. Argal, it won't work to well in mocking someone.

argentine - pertaining to or resembling silver.

So that's how Argentina got its name

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 11

anyon - an elementary particle or particle-like excitation having properties intermediate between those of bosons and fermions.

And I thought it was a catch-all phrase referring to any particle ending with -on

aperitive - an appetite stimulant.

APC - Pharmacology. aspirin, phenacetin, and caffeine: a compound formerly used in headache and cold remedies.

The all-purpose cure, as is its secondary definition.

apophasis - denial of one's intention to speak of a subject that is at the same time named or insinuated, as “I shall not mention Caesar's avarice, nor his cunning, nor his morality.”

I won't mention how much it annoys me when people use this

apiary - a place in which a colony or colonies of bees are kept, as a stand or shed for beehives or a bee house containing a number of beehives.

appel - In fencing,
1. a tap or stamp of the foot, formerly serving as a warning of one's intent to attack, but now also used as a feint.
2. a sharp stroke with the blade used for the purpose of procuring an opening.

apple bee - a social gathering at which apples are prepared for drying.

I wish the restaurant chain would take notice and fulfill its namesake!

apples - in Australian slang, well or fine; under control.

An expression we all should use more often

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 10

anthropophagite - an eater of human flesh; cannibal.

Your mom's an anthropophagite

anticlastic - In mathematics, of a surface, having principal curvatures of opposite sign at a given point.

antidisestablishmentarianism - opposition to the withdrawal of state support or recognition from an established church, esp. the Anglican Church in 19th-century England.

And now you know what it means

antiestablishmentarianism - a policy or attitude that views a nation's power structure as corrupt, repressive, exploitive, etc

No relation to antidisestablishmentarianism

Antilles - a chain of islands in the West Indies, divided into two parts, the one including Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico (Greater Antilles), the other including a large arch of smaller islands to the SE and S (Lesser Antilles or Caribees).

And the great wedge in the middle.

antinomian - a person who maintains that Christians are freed from the moral law by virtue of grace as set forth in the gospel.

The lawless gospel of the wild, wild west

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 9

angry young man -
1. one of a group of British writers of the late 1950s and the 1960s whose works reflect strong dissatisfaction with, frustration by, and rebellion against tradition and society.
2. any author writing in this manner.

The next time someone calls me an angry young man, I will take it as a testament to my expert penmanship.

aniconism -
1. opposition to the use of idols or images.
2. the worship of objects symbolic of but not depicting a deity.

Somehow, these two definitions seem contradictory

animal faith - nonrational belief in the existence of a fully knowable world outside the mind.


animality -
1. the state of being an animal.
2. the animal nature or instincts of human beings.

And also one of the sweetest finishing moves in Mortal Kombat!

animal magnetism - the power to attract others through one's physical presence, bearing, energy, etc.

And I think it's a spell in Dungeons & Dragons

animé - any of various resins or copals, especially that from Hymenaea courbaril, a tree of tropical Ameria, used in making varnish, scenting pastilles, etc.

And apparently used in making Japanese cartoons, too.

Anschauung - direct or immediate intuition or perception of sense data with little or no rational interpretation.

And now you have a fancy word for non-propositional knowledge.

Antaeus - in Classical Mythology, an African giant who was invincible when in contact with the earth but was lifted into the air by Hercules and crushed.

It was at this point that I realized that Marvel Comics has been ripping off classical mythology for years.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 8

amy - slang for a vial of amyl nitrate.

"Hey Amy. Will you hand me an amy?"

anaptotic - (of languages) tending to become uninflected, in accordance with a theory that languages evolve from uninflected to inflected and back.

I never knew that the study of the evolution of the inflection of languages was such serious business.

anatta - In Buddhism, the doctrine asserting the nonexistence of a personal and immortal soul. Sanskrit,anatman.

I always wondered how Buddhist outreach works. "Hey you! Yeah, you over there! Do you realize that you don't exist?"

ane - (pronounced like "ain't") Scottish for "one"

anes - Scottish for "once"

This must be hard for a Scottsman to express how he once tried on a pair of Hanes. I guess that's why there are kilts.

angel shark - any shark of the genus Squatina, found in warm and temperate shore waters, having a depressed, flat body and large, winglike pectoral fins.

Two words I never expected to see juxtaposed. Seems like an oxymoron

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dictionary Highlights : Day 7

ambergris - an opaque, ash-colored secretion of the sperm whale intestine, usually found floating on the ocean or cast ashore: used in perfumery.

And now you know where these perfumes come from

ambisinister - clumsy or unskillful with both hands.

The expected antonym of ambidextrous

ambisextrous - held in common by both sexes, especially sexual characteristics.

The expected neologism of ambidextrous

amen corner - a place in some Protestant churches, usually at one side of the pulpit, occupied by worshipers leading the responsive amens of the congregation.

And I thought it was the 12th hole at Augusta National

American Legion - a society, organized in 1919, composed of veterans of the armed forces of the U.S.

Why did I keep thinking that this was the name of some sort of white supremacy group?

American plan - (in hotels) a system of paying a single fixed rate that covers room and all meals.

American twist - In tennis, a service in which the ball is spun so as to bounce high and to the left of the receiver.

A term that should be imported into bartending

Ammonium nitrate - a white, crystalline, water-soluble powder, NH4NO3, usually produced by reacting nitric acid with vaporous ammonia: used chiefly in explosives, fertilizers, freezing mixtures, and in the manufacture of nitrous oxide.

That's why fertilizer bombs work

amphetamine - a racemic drug, C9H13N, that stimulates the central nervous system: used chiefly to lift the mood in depressive states and to control the appetite in cases of obesity. a(lpha) + m(ethyl) + ph(enyl) + et(hyl) + AMINE

amphotericin - an amphoteric antibiotic produced by the bacterium Streptomyces nodosus and used in the treatment of fungal infections.

It's the opposite of penicillin

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dictionary Highlights: Day 5

Albania - 1. a republic in S Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula, W of Macedonia and NW of Greece. 3,293,252; 10,632 sq. mi. (27,535 sq. km). Capital: Tirana.
2. Obsolete. Scotland.

Good to know if you're ever time-traveling to ancient Scotland. If they tell you you're in Albania, you're in the right place.

Albuquerque (Alfonseo de) - 1453–1515, founder of the Portuguese empire in the East.

alcoholize - 1. to convert into an alcohol.
2. to treat or saturate with an alcohol.
3. to place under the influence of alcoholic beverages; make drunk; besot.

A good question to ask at parties. "Are you alcoholized yet?"

Alcoranist - a person who believes in an absolutely literal interpretation of the Koran.

Why did they need to come up with another word for this. Is Wahhabiist not good enough?

alectryomancy - an ancient form of divination, using a rooster to select grains of food placed on letters of the alphabet.

And it's a lot more fun than Ouija. Perfect activity for a party once everyone has been alcoholized.

aleuromancy - the use of flour as a means of divination.

I would love to see how this works.

Alexandrinus -the Greek uncial codex, dating from the early 5th century a.d., originally containing the complete text of the Greek Old and New Testaments.

Sweet! Another complete text that predates Codex Leningrad.

aliterate - a person who is able to read but rarely chooses to do so: Schools are worried about producing aliterates who prefer television to books.

- tremendous; extreme; excessive: He had the all-fired gall to quit in the middle of the job.

Then his team members were all fired.

Dictionary Highlights: Day 4

Aardwolf - a striped, hyenalike mammal, Proteles cristatus, of southern and eastern Africa, that feeds chiefly on insects.

Just like the aardvark, only more wolf-like

Ailurophile - a person who likes cats; cat fancier.

I didn't know they needed to invent a whole new word for "cat lover" which is shorter to say and to type, anyway.

Air Equivalent - a measure of the effectiveness of a material in absorbing nuclear radiation, expressed as the thickness of an air layer (at 0° C and 1 atmosphere) causing the same absorption.

Air Screw - an airplane propeller.

Airy Fairy -
1. Informal.
a. delicate or lovely: an airy-fairy actress; an airy-fairy nightgown.
b. not based on reality or concerned with mundane affairs; unrealistic: airy-fairy ideas about spending a fortune that isn't even his.
2. Slang. effeminate; swishy.

Alabamine - In Chemistry, (formerly) astatine. Symbol: Ab

Because when we think of advanced scientific research, Alabama is the first thing that comes to mind.

Alack - An interjection used as an exclamation of sorrow, regret, or dismay.

For when Alas just won't do.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Resolution

It's that time of the year again, for us to resolve to better our lives, breaking old habits and setting new ones.

I was fascinated when I read about an experiment where researchers tested individuals with conditions that prevented them from making new long-term memories. These patients are like the main character in Memento, unable to remember what they were doing even five minutes ago. The test went like this: The researcher introduces himself to the patient, and presents a puzzle (not necessarily a jigsaw puzzle, either) for the patient to solve. The researcher asks "have you done this puzzle before" the patient says "no" and the patient proceeds to work on the puzzle until it has been solved.

The results were fascinating. On the first day, it would take the patient, say, 20 minutes to solve the puzzle. On the second day, the patient would take less time to solve the same puzzle, say, 10 minutes. On the third day, the patient could solve the puzzle in less time still, despite having no conscious memory of ever having worked on the puzzle. This indicates that knowledge forgotten by the conscious mind is never lost. The implication is: if you learn, or even gloss over some kind of knowledge, even if you don't really understand it, even if you don't remember it, it will be beneficial should you desire to learn it later. For example, if you read a Master's Degree level physics text that is over your head, and don't understand it, take Bachelor's level physics courses, get a degree, then take a Master's physics course years later featuring that textbook you didn't understand, you will now learn that textbook much more quickly than if you had never read it in the first place.

This got me thinking. What could I do to provide a foundation for future learning. If I briefly gloss over the whole of human knowledge, then anything I learn in a formal education later in life, I will learn faster and retain more of it. In other words, I'd be supercharging my ability to learn.

Inspired by A.J. Jacobs' audacious project of reading through all of Encyclopedia Britannica in a year, I decided to do something similar, but a bit more modest. I have decided to read through Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language in one year. The text is 2230 pages long, which equals out to a little over 6 pages per day. While that may not seem difficult at first, here's an image of two pages of this dictionary:

Wish me luck. I think I'm gonna need it.