The Botereid

Friday, December 17, 2004

Word

When I start typing "dictionary.com" into my address bar, a box of URLs beginning with "dic..." that I've searched recently drops down. I'm sure, somewhat, that my browser's not the only one to do this. So I decided to flip through today, and I found the list pretty interesting. A few years ago, I would've researched a word only if I hadn't the slightest idea what it could mean. But beginning with my English composition class a few years ago, I've looked up words with increasing frequency and for a swelling list of reasons. Examples follow of recent words I've researched and why. This is obviously not a full list. Maybe I'll work through more of these days on another day.

age. Beats me.

beck. Someone was trying to say the other day that "beck and call" was actually "beckon call." Clearly not the case. I was halfway through an email correcting the wayward individual, but no matter how I composed the dern thing it came out supercilious. He wrote two days later to everyone who had been involved in the conversation to admit that he had been mistaken. A gentleman's gesture. I'm glad I didn't send that email.

bounder. A lovely insult. A tap. Just wanted to make sure the British do use it that way.

craw. I wasn't absolutely sure of the phrase "stick in one's craw." The actual meaning of the word is interesting too. When I reflected upon it, I realized that I'd had no idea what it meant -- perhaps that's why I was confused about the phrase. I've begun to dissect words and idioms more and more often of late, and completely without meaning to. For instance, I just can't say "diSintegrate" anymore without forcing myself; it keeps coming out as "disIntegrate." Strange.

hirsute. I saw someone use it, maybe Mencken, and I just wanted to make sure that it had the oddball meaning I thought it did. Damn -- this reminds me: there's a Greek-rooted word that means "hairy-backed"...What could it possibly be?

pyrrhic. Just wanted to know how to say it.

Update: dasypygal - to have hairy buttocks.

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