Words of the Week


Acquisitive – The word acquisitive is neither new to me nor used much by the news media. However, the word acquisitive precisely describes western society's pathological obsession with the acquisition of material things. In other words, it isn't enough to describe western society as materialistic. It is necessary to focus more specifically on western society's insatiable acquisition fever. For much of western society, and specifically the U.S., what passes for “success” is often measured purely by a person’s material wealth, or artificial social status( i.e. Kardashianism),  no matter how culturally devoid and vapid the person, within the devolution of a "having the most toys" society.


Agliophobia  - While web searching for background information about words that included: Hades, Succubus, and abject, the footnotes in the definition for the word abject in one online dictionary included a list of phobias. One of the phobias was agliophobia, meaning an abnormal fear of pain. The very existence of such a word is a curiosity, since the absence of a fear of pain seems like it would be quite abnormal.


Caliphate - With the news this week about the uprising of radical Islamists in Iraq by a violent group called ISIS, a word I had seen before appeared in articles about the radical Islamists, has been appearing in articles about the burgeoning new Middle East civil war. A caliphate describes a form of fundamentalist Islamic theocracy that is controlled by Muslim religious leader called a caliph. This despotic fundamentalist form of Muslim government rules by dictatorship and the brutal Sharia Law.


Corium - A name for the congealed lava that is a mixture of uranium, fission by-product heavy metals, and sand, that forms after a meltdown in a graphite core nuclear reactor with a sand filled secondary reactor container. This uranium and sand mixture, especially iin its congealed form, has also been dubbd Chernobylite.


Cursorily - This variation of the more common version of this word - cursory - simply arose in general verbal usage, and seemed as though it would be a nice addition here. Many definitioins seem attibute a pejorative connotation to cursory activity. However, sometimes an overview oriented review of something seems appropriate, sometimes due to time constraints, or as a preface to a second, more in depth coverage of something. 


flibbertigibbet - A word that originated in Middle English to describe locaquious, chatty, impish, silly, people. The term flibbertigibbet even appears in Shakespeare as the name of one of his characters.


Hagiography - Mass media has a way of either deifying or vilifying people, often in a way that defies the balanced reality of the subject being discussed. For example, often when someone is the victim of a serious crime, in the media, their families' tend to remember them only in saintly terms. Recently there was an article in the media in which the famous journalist Glenn Greenwald called the NBC news anchor Brian Williams a "top hagiographer". In modern usage hagiography is the practice of describing someone in unrealistically glowing terms, eliminating all negatives from the chronical of the subject's life. Historically, hagiography began as the literal means by which the lives of canonized people were written about in purely saintly terms.


Ingluvies - This word was used in the second round of the 2012 national spelling bee. It is the crop, or widened part of the esophagus in many mollusks, insects, and birds, which accumulates, stores, and sometimes begins chemically processing food. In flies, butterflies, and other insects that use liquid food, the ingluvies is a sac mounted on a stalk. In bees the fermentative processing of flower nectar into honey takes place in the ingluvies. The expanded portions of the esophagus in annelid worms, nematodes, and nemerteans are also called ingluvies (paraphrased from a free, open source, online dictionary).


Obloquy - While reading some information on a legal subject, the wonderfully specific term obloquy appeared in the text of an appellate court ruling. The term obloquy certainly isn't used in general contemporary discourse, but it does appear to have become a legal term of art, specifically used to describe unjust public abuse and scorn arising from libel. Synonyms for obloquy, such as ignominy, opprobriumvituperation, and vilification, seem just as entertaining as this curious word itself,


Refactoring - A newfangled, probably very appropriate, term of art, for modern, often automated, code optimization processes, often used with pseudo-code compiled, and JIT compiled, software language systems. A notable software engineer, Martin Fowler, written a book about, and has assembled a web site devoted to the topic,  www.refactoring.com, that provides detailed information about the subject of refactoring, do do other internet resources.


Sozzled - A rather fun way of describing someone as either drunk, or acting as though they were intoxicated, even if they aren't. Apparently, this word has a slang origin, seemingly evolved from forms of British dialect.