Friday, December 14, 2012

Words To Live By

A few months ago, I posted a presumptive missive about a few of my favorite words, or, as one of my friends called it, pedantry for the people. Another friend quoted E.B. White, who famously stated that one should not use a three dollar word when a one dollar one would suffice. As I agree with both of them, I present the latest installment of a few of my favorite words:

Schadenfreude - my older daughter, Dr. Princess Julia, is particularly fond of this one. For those of you (like me) who prefer it in context, think of that over-compensating fellow who races by you on highway, zipping in and out of traffic, and how you feel when you see the same vehicle, pulled over by a police officer several miles down the road. Pleasure at another's misfortune, indeed!

Cacophony - Quickly, my fellow Americans, when and where was the most recent World Cup? If that escapes your memory, I will bet you recall the sounds of that particular event, those plastic horns called vuvuzelas (not a bad word, itself). My point: that was a cacophony of sound; loud, discordant, annoying.

Unuxorious - I shouldn't kick a man when he's down, but this one was too rich to omit. Prior to the recent Summer Olympics, Governor Romney was interviewed by a newsman, who asked if he was planning to attend the competition featuring the horse owned by he and his wife. The governor responded that Rafalca was his wife's interest, and he really knew little of it and would probably not watch it. A reporter thought this the opposite of his true feelings towards Mrs. Romney. If "uxorious" is "doting upon... or especially submissive towards one's wife", then unuxorious would be, well, not so much. This was at the same time that Stephen Colbert defined Dressage as the sport of the summer for those who use summer as a verb.

Feckless - I love a word that can be defined by its mere pronunciation. Come on, say this one aloud; what does it sound like to you? Doesn't it just scream lily-livered?

Epistemic Closure - This gained some traction in the wake of the recent election. Karl Rove, among other commentators on a particular cable channel, predicted a landslide victory for one candidate, despite mass evidence to the contrary from the polls. One columnist described it as life in the bubble; wishing does not make it so.

Finally, my nomination to be added to the year-end list of most over-used words: fiscal cliff. Any argument on that one?