Idioticon — it’s not what you think!

Today’s word: idioticon

When I saw today’s word in the list, I took it for granted that it had something to do with emoticons — at least at first glance.  People used to rant and rave about those ubiquitous 🙂 and ;D and XO things back in the day.

But then I got to the definition:  it’s actually a dictionary of idiom from a particular district or region.  In other words, y’all and pop (instead of soda) and “warsh” for wash and all that kind of thing.

Unlike the words for “H”, idioticon comes from Greek: idiotikon.  Interestingly enough, the blog post at World Wide Words says that while idiot can in fact mean stupid, it also can mean “private”.  In addition, it can also mean something barbarous. This meaning got built into the concept behind the original idioticons, which were glossaries of “Minority languages” or dialects.  WWW sites:

In the eighteenth century German scholars used it for a dictionary of a dialect or a minority language — the view that they were barbarous tongues spoken only by the unschooled was still very powerful. Early examples included the Idioticon Frisicum, the Idioticon Hamburgense and the Idioticon Prussicum. Later it became a standard German word, spelled Idiotikon.

They don’t seem to exist formally at the present, although you probably could find something meant less scholarly than those original idioticons.  There’s an Urban Dictionary online which does something similar for street slang.  It’s handy when you don’t want to track down the closest 14-year-old to ask what “technocamping” means.





What a difference a letter makes!

Today’s words:

hirudine        of, like or pertaining to leeches

hirundine     of, like or pertaining to swallows

You’ll notice that these two words are just one letter (“n”) different from each other in form, but significantly different in meaning — swallows to leeches (I’m cringing at that image as I type).  That’s a lot of change to put on one little letter.

I’m a student of French, so I noticed that hirundine (the swallow version) reflects the French word “hirondelle” which means “swallow” (the bird — I should have clarified that right away). That makes sense, as the ultimate etymology for the word comes from the Latin word for “swallow” …hirundo.

It’s not much of a stretch to assume (and you would be doing so correctly) that ‘hirundine’ reflects a similar Latin origin: Hirudinea, or “leech”.

This is an object lesson in being sure 1) you have the right word and 2) that you’re extra careful in checking or proofreading when you know there’s a pair of words separated by a single letter’s difference.

Here’s today’s object lesson:  I’ll leave it as an exercise for your imagination as to what letter got lost in the typing when I received a recent press release from a newer social media site which was growing to include new features.  They proudly advised us users that the “public” profiles would remain in place. 🙂

This word’s meaning made me laugh: Grangerize

First off, I want to acknowledge Phrontistery, without which I could never have done this Challenge.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing such a cool resource!

In scanning the ‘g’ page, I came across today’s word: grangerize.  The reason it made me laugh … well, let me give you the definition for the word:

illustrate (a book) by later insertion of material, esp. prints cut from other works.”

Don’t get it? Maybe it would help if you were, like me, a Harry Potter fan.  Hermione Granger, one of the three “lead” characters of the series, is a bookworm. A MEGA bookworm. Early in the series, she was also an extremely rule-bound bookworm.  I’m trying to imagine the reaction of Hermione of the first three or four books to the idea of cutting up a book for illustration material.

Actually, I’m also trying to imagine my reaction.  That’s one good thing about living now, with the technology available to us.  At least these days, when you “cut and paste”, you don’t need scissors and glue, and you don’t actually damage the source material.

All the elves are wearing them — Ferronière

I have been a fan of the Lord of the Rings books which I have read annually (at least) since I was around 15.  Since I’m a lot older than 15 now (let’s not get into specifics, shall we?) that adds up to a lot of reading.

I always liked Tolkien’s elves.  And although I have a lot of complaints with Peter Jackson’s movies, the elves aren’t one of them.

If you’ve seen the movies, you may have noticed that the Elves are partial to wearing jewelry and such around their heads. According to my source, the technical term for such jewelry is today’s word: ferronière.  This was the name used in the 1490s. Apparently the revival of the name in the early to mid 1800s was a bit of a mistake.  Such a headband appeared in a painting of a woman in the 1490s, who was misidentified as the wife of an iron merchant, Le Féron.  So they got it right by accident. 🙂

If you’re still not clear what this looks like, this is a rather elaborate version:












Photo credit: – this is definitely a cool shop and if you’re into Ren Fairs and you’d like some interesting jewelry, I’d recommend it.


‘Eading for Eucrasy

I have recently restarted my ongoing search for getting into shape and being in good health.

Today’s word, “eucrasy”, means being in a state of fitness.  I wish I could tell you my journey is going to be a short one, but alas, that would be a lie.

Actually, working out is the easy part for me.  I’ve always enjoyed exercise. Where I shoot myself in the foot is diet. I have the world’s worst sweet tooth and I work where people are always bringing things in.  I’d almost have to do a “Ulysses” (i.e., tie myself to my desk, plug my ears and blindfold myself) to stay away.

I’m hoping that I can break this obsession and make the exercising worthwhile.

On to eucrasy! Eucrasy or bust! 🙂

Open wide for dontopedalogy!

John MacArthur, a Christian minister and writer, published a book of “biography” of the Apostles.  The chapter on Simon Peter (my favorite apostle) was “The Apostle with the Foot-Shaped Mouth”.  In other words, he suffered from dontopedalogy.

Dontopedalogy is otherwise known as “open mouth, insert foot”.  According to my Google searches, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is the “King of Dontopedalogy”, not only for having allegedly invented the term, but for also being a noble practitioner thereof. From an article on the Radio Times website, here are some samples of his expertise in the subject:


During the 1981 recession: “Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed.”

Responding to calls for a firearms ban following the Dunblane massacre in 1996: “If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?”

To Sir Rennie Maudslay, Keeper of the Privy Purse in the 1970s: “You’re just a silly little Whitehall twit: you don’t trust me and I don’t trust you.”

Context is everything

Accepting a conservation award in Thailand in 1991: “Your country is one of the most notorious centres of trading in endangered species in the world.”

At the 50th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme in 2006: “Young people are the same as they always were. They are just as ignorant.”

At a 1986 World Wildlife Fund meeting: “If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”

While I’m sure none of us can match HRH for sheer effrontery, I’m guessing we’ve all had times when we wished life had a rewind button. What’s your own most memorable ‘foot-in-mouth’ occasion?

We’ve got a lot of cynolatry around here, c?

Today’s word is “cynolatry”.

Cynolatry is the worship of dogs.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m all kinds of an animal person.  I kind of lean toward cats, but I love dogs, too.  I just don’t own any at the moment, and even if I did he or she would never wear a Halloween costume, a mackintosh with boots or a sweater.  God gave them fur for a reason.

Also, you’d never see me with a dog in my purse.  Of course, there’s  a good reason for that — my preferred breeds are Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers and especially Irish Wolfhounds — I’d need a large sized steamer trunk for any one of them. 🙂 Forget the purse.

It’s interesting.  I don’t know, off the top of my head, of a culture where dogs were worshiped.  Cats, of course, had a place in Egyptian mythology.  Dogs may have, but I doubt the Egyptians had an equivalent for our trendy dog boutiques.

Dogs have a place.  It may even be in the home (although my parents and their generation/culture wouldn’t agree). But can we agree it’s not on a altar?