Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More Words Gathered

A note on word gathering:

I am reading extensively the poetry of W.B. Yeats and commentary and analysis of his work, life and times. As I read I gather the words that I recognize but can't fully define (if there was a test) as well as words that are brand new to me. Or sometimes I pick words that are downright silly sounding or looking.

This is something that I used to teach my students to do as they read. Let's say that I demonstrated the technique to them. Whether or not they availed themselves of the strategy is up for grabs. Nevertheless, I became addicted to amping up my reading (and writing) in this way. What can I say, I used to read the "It Pays to Increase Your Word Power" segments in the Reader's Digest when I visited my Grandma on the weekends. My college roommate and I used to read the dictionary on Friday nights. Living now with a non-native English speaker, I am attuned to the nuances of communication and the need for simplicity and clarity--yet I love the splendor of such things:

Etymology: Middle English mawke maggot, probably from Old Norse mathkr -- more at MAGGOT
1 : having an insipid often unpleasant taste
2 : sickly or puerilely sentimental

Etymology: New Latin syncretismus, from Greek synkrEtismos federation of Cretan cities, from syn- + KrEt-, KrEs Cretan
1 : the combination of different forms of belief or practice
2 : the fusion of two or more originally different inflectional forms

Etymology: Latin hieraticus sacerdotal, from Greek hieratikos, from hierasthai to perform priestly functions, from hieros sacred; probably akin to Sanskrit isara vigorous
1 : constituting or belonging to a cursive form of ancient Egyptian writing simpler than the hieroglyphic
3 : highly stylized or formal

tending to break up into parts : divisive
Example sentence: The reorganization of management can have a fissiparous effect on the rest of the company.

Etymology: Latin palimpsestus, from Greek palimpsEstos scraped again, from palin + psEn to rub, scrape; akin to Sanskrit psAti, babhasti he chews
1 : writing material (as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased
2 : something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface

Etymology: French, from past participle of manquer to lack, fail, from Italian mancare, from manco lacking, left-handed, from Latin, having a crippled hand, probably from manus
: short of or frustrated in the fulfillment of one's aspirations or talents -- used postpositively

Etymology: New Latin, from Greek, subjection, from hypotassein to arrange under, from hypo- + tassein to arrange
: syntactic subordination (as by a conjunction)

Etymology: Latin perspicuus transparent, perspicuous, from perspicere
: plain to the understanding especially because of clarity and precision of presentation

1 comment:

Hilary Parker said...

Nice blog. I am a poet in South Bend looking for other literary souls. :) You can find me at or

Write if you get a chance!