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21 Days to A Bigger Vocabulary

21 Days to a Bigger Vocabulary - Day 21

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Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Here it is!  The end of our 21 Days of words you've probably never heard and are less likely to ever use.  I'm ending the series with one of my favorites I've been saving for you. 

shibboleth

pronunciationshib-uh-lith

definition:  A pattern of behavior, speech or activity that sets apart a group of people.  Also, a common belief or saying with little current meaning or truth.

I love this word mostly because of the somewhat comical story behind it.  This is a passage taken from the Bible, Judges 12:4-6 (NIV):

Jephthah then called together the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. The Gileadites struck them down because the Ephraimites had said, "You Gileadites are renegades from Ephraim and Manasseh."  The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, "Let me cross over," the men of Gilead asked him, "Are you an Ephraimite?" If he replied, "No,"  they said, "All right, say 'Shibboleth.' " He said, "Sibboleth," because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.

Today, a shibboleth is akin to a stereotype.  Think about groups of people:  Christians, Muslims, Jews, homeschoolers, plumbers, Arkansans, gays, lawyers, etc.  What are some shibboleths you hold?

 

 

 

21 Days to a Bigger Vocabulary - Day 20

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Monday, 25 February 2008

horripilation

pronunciation:  haw-rip-uh-lay-shun

definition:  To have one's hair stand on end; to get goosebumps.

This is a fun word that sounds like a Jeff Foxworthy concoction, like pandelerium, We was frozen in horripilation when that ternader overcome us.

I absolutely horripilated when I saw the shoes Daniel Day Lewis wore with his tux to the Oscars.

 

 

21 Days to a Bigger Vocabulary - Day 19

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Saturday, 23 February 2008

discalceate or discalced

pronunciation:  dis-kal-see-it, dis-kalst

definition:  removal of ones shoes, usually regarding certain religious orders

Here's a suggestion for those of you who have trouble with "drop-in" company:   Post a sign on your door reading, "Welcome!  All visitors to be discalced upon entry."  Just see how many people decide it's probably better to call first.

Here's a riddle:  What do you call a chicken who's lost her shoes?

Answer:  A discalced fryer!  HaHaHa!  Get it?  Fryer?  discalced friar

I crack myself up.

 

 

21 Days to a Bigger Vocabulary - Day 18

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Friday, 15 February 2008

lexiphanic

pronunciation:  lecks-i-fan-ik

definition:  using or interlarding with magniloquent, bombastic, perhaps euphuistic speech or writing. 

Still confused?  How about this:  using pretentious words to impress people.  Of course, our aim here at "21 Days to a Bigger vocabulary" is not to be impressive...just annoying.

 

21 Days to a Bigger Vocabulary - Day 17

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Tuesday, 12 February 2008

mumpsimus and sumpsimus

pronunciationmump-suh-muhs and sump-suh-muhs

definitionMumpsimus is a persistence in making the same mistake in speech or adherence to an erroneous practice or belief, out of habit or obstinacy, while sumpsimus is strict adherence to the correct term or practice, rejecting an erroneous but more common form or belief.

Example:**

"Mr. President, with all due respect, the word is pronounced noo-klee-ar, not noo-kyoo-ler."

"You talk your way, I'll talk mine."

"But, Sir, the American people question your abilities and, er, your intelligence."

"Listen, son, I didn't get a degree from Yale and become president of the most powerful country in the world by burying my nose in a dictionary.  I'm not going to trade my mumpsimus for your sumpsimus."

** The preceding example is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance of the characters herein to real persons, living or otherwise, is, well, intentional.

 

 
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