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Word of the Day

D. Allan

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a.plomb, (uh-plom), noun.

1. imperturbable self-possession, poise, assurance.

2. the perpendicular, or vertical position.

- Random House Unabridged Dictionary

The French people who are known for their perspicuous, precise expressions have given us today's word. The French expression, á plomb means 'according to the plummet', i. e. straight up and down, vertical. The two definitions given above seem to flow together. An assured person of poise would carry herself with a perpendicular, vertical posture and have an unmovable equanimity like a plummet at rest.

Plommet, Middle-English from Middle-French, diminutive of plomb, French for the metal lead. Carpenters and masons use plummets. They call them plumb bobs. A level or a plumb-bob may be used to check or adjust a wall or post for verticality. They may say, “plumb that wall,” or “that corner is out of plumb.”

Synonyms 1. composure, equanimity, imperturbability.

Antonyms 1. confusion, discomposure; doubt, uncertainty.

- from Dictionary.com

"In ballet, aplomb refers to the basic law of ballet - stability, achieved through one of the five positions codified by Pierre Beauchamp." -from Wikipedia.org/wiki/Aplomb

"….he weathers their boozy blandishments and inevitable potato jokes with admirable grace and aplomb.”

- "Quayle Running Against His Own Image", Los Angeles Times, August 1, 1999

“His initial broadcasting success was due at least as much to his considerable professional aplomb as it was to his father's broadcasting connections”

- John A. Jackson, American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire


plommets or plumb-bobs

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And 'plumb' comes from the lead used to weight the end of a plumb bob. Plumb (or 'plumbum') is Latin for lead, hence lead's chemical symbol Pb. (heh, thread crossing alert with Science Factoids!)

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chi.me.ra (ki-meer-uh), noun, often capitalized.

[from Greek chimaira, fem., noun, goat.]

1. a fire-breathing mythical creature with a lion’s head, a goat’s body and a serpents tail.

2. any similarly grotesque creature of disparate parts.

3. a horrible or unreal creature of the imagination, an idle or vain fancy.

“He is far different than the chimera your fears have made of him.” -Random House Unabridged.

4. in genetics, an organism of two or more genetically distinct tissues, as part male and partly female, an artificially produced organism having tissues of several species.

Synonyms: dream, fantasy, delusion.

chimera: 1382, > L. chimaera, > Gk. chimaira, a fabulous monster (with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail), supposedly personification of snow or winter, orig. "year-old she-goat," from cheima "winter season." Meaning "wild fantasy" first recorded 1587. -Online Etymology Dictionary

This word is also spelled chimaera; which spelling also denotes a family of fish, chimaeridae, the male of which has a spiny clasping organ over its mouth, or a group of fish, holocephali, which includes this family. –Random House Unabridged


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ep.o.nym (ep-eh-nim), noun.

1. An eponym is a real, mythical or fictional person from whom something such as a tribe, nation or place takes its name; or a person who has become associated with a period movement, theory, etc.

2. It also is sometimes used to refer to the word that is derived for that real mythical or fictional person or the period, movement or theory associated with a person.

Plato is the eponym of Platonic according to definition one.

Platonic is the eponym of Plato according to definition two.

eponymous (eh–poneh–mus), also eponymic, adj. [>Greek eponymos > epi-, upon + onyma, a name.]

1. giving ones name to a people, nation etc.

2. of an eponym.

Can you give the matching half for each of the following eponyms?

Louis Pasteur



Washington, D. C.


George Boole

Louis Braille

John Philip Sousa

William Miller

Yogi the Bear

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e.gre.gious (e-gree-juh s, e-gree-jee-uh s), adjective

The original meaning is now archaic. The Latin word egreius means chosen or separated from the herd or flock, hence select, choice, eminent; however today it means remarkable or extraordinary in some bad way; outstanding for undesirable qualities.

One is likely to find it referring to an egregious mistake, or an egregious liar. Googling it turned up egregious grammar, errors, person, abuse, and egregious misuse.

Related forms:

e.gre.gious.ly, adverb

e.gre.gious.ness, noun

Hoping you are not having an egregious day...... :)

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gre.gar.i.ous (gree-gair-ee-ehs), adjective

Today’s word and yesterdays, gregarious and egregious, both derive from Latin grex or gregis, meaning flock or herd. I hope you remember that egregious means outstanding (like an animal different from the rest of the flock) in a bad way, like a hairless(!) sheep or you could say like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Todays word, gregarious, has more friendly connotations:

1. living in herds or flocks

2. fond of the company of others

3. having to do with a herd, flock or crowd.

4. in botony, growing in clusters

- Webster’s New World Dictionary

—Related forms

gre·gar·i·ous·ly, adverb

gre·gar·i·ous·ness, noun

—Synonyms 1. social, genial, outgoing, convivial, companionable, friendly, extroverted.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

“Man is a gregarious animal, and much more so in his mind than in his body. He may like to go alone for a walk, but he hates to stand alone in his opinions." –George Santayana

"...the reclusive man who marries the gregarious woman, the timid woman who marries the courageous man, the idealist who marries the realist -- we can all see these unions: the marriages in which tenderness meets loyalty, where generosity sweetens moroseness, where a sense of beauty eases some aridity of the spirit, are not so easy for outsiders to recognize; the parties themselves may not be fully aware of such elements in a good match." -Robertson Davies, "The Pleasures of Love"

Post your own usage of gregarious; it will help you to remember it and to keep it available when the need for it arrives. Here is my usage - , “Is a gregarious person more likely to forgive egregious faults than a non-gregarious one? It is probably truer to say an unforgiving person is less likely to be gregarious." -(dAb)


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Sab.bath, (sab-uhth) noun, is a word that made its way into English with little change from the Hebrew. Middle-English sabat < Old-French & Anglo-Saxon sabat; both of those from Latin sabbatum; Greek sabbaton; Hebrew shabbath < shabath, to rest.

1) the seventh day of the Jewish week, set aside by the 4th commandment; Saturday.

2) Sunday: name applied by most Protestant denominations.

3) A period of rest.

Related words:

Sabbath, adj., of the Sabbath.

Sabbatarian, adj. Of the Sabbath & noun, one who observes it.

Sabbatarianism, noun, observance of the Sabbath.

Sabbath school, noun, 1. Sunday school. 2. among Seventh-day Adventists, a similar school held on Saturday.

Sabbatic, adj.

Sabbatic, noun, Sabbatical

Sabbatical, adj. 1. Of or suited to the Sabbath. 2. –bringing a regular period of rest that recurs in cycles. Noun, a sabbatical year.

Sabbatical year, noun, 1. among the ancient Jews every seventh year, when the land was to remain fallow and debtors released. 2. a year or half year of absence for study, rest or travel, given at intervals to teachers, in some colleges and universities.

- Webster’s New World Dictionary, 1968

From Wikipedia’s Shabbat article:

Shabbat (Hebrew: שבת, shabbāt, "rest"; Shabbos or Shabbes in Ashkenazic pronunciation), is the weekly day of rest in Judaism.

The Hebrew word Shabbat comes from the Hebrew verb shavat, which literally means "to cease," or shev which means "sit." Although Shabbat (or its anglicized version, "Sabbath") is almost universally translated as "rest" or a "period of rest," a more literal translation would be "ceasing", with the implication of "ceasing from work." Thus, Shabbat is the day of ceasing from work; while resting is implied, it is not a necessary denotation of the word itself.

A common linguistic confusion leads many to believe that the word means "seventh day." Though the root for seven, or sheva, is similar in sound, it is derived from a different root word. Shabbat is the source for the English term Sabbath, and for the word in many languages meaning "Saturday", such as the Arabic As-Sabt (السبت), the Armenian Shabat, the Persian shambe, Spanish and Portuguese Sábado , the Greek Savato and the Italian word Sabato. It is also responsible for the word "sabbatical," although that concept is also derived from the Jewish concept of the sabbatical year.

Jewish law's definition defines a day as ending at dusk and nightfall, which is when the next day then begins. Thus, Shabbat begins before sundown Friday night and ends at after nightfall Saturday night (traditionally, after three stars can be seen in the sky) [very interesting -dAb]. The added time between sunset and nightfall on Saturday night owes to the ambiguous status of that part of the day according to Jewish law.

· Enjoying Shabbat (Oneg Shabbat). This can include activities such as eating tasty food, resting, or engaging in intimate relations with one's spouse. -Wikipedia.org

There is more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabbat#Observance .

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Word Review, 04, 22, 07

So far we have had 10 words as a Word of the Day and here they are in chronological order:











My favorite is aplomb. It's sound is so perfectly matched to its meaning; like a heavy weight at the bottom of a

slender string: a - plommmbb…..!

Yogiism is not a eastern religion! Cf. Yogi Berra (the baseball hall-of-famer)

I like the bubbly quality of effervesce.

What is your favorite?

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Today’s word is unusual for the number of consecutive vowels it has: four in a row. Teachers, psychologists and psychoanalysts may be familiar with this word, but probably few others.

ma.ieu.tic (mey-yoo-tik), adj. also ma.ieu.ti.cal, designating or of the Socratic method of helping a person to bring forth and become aware of his latent ideas or memories. -Webster’s New World

The Random House says the method uses interrogation and insists on close logical reasoning. - http://dictionary.reference.com The origin shows an apt metaphor for the meaning of today’s word; it comes from Greek maieutikos < maia, midwife!


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con.fab.u.late, (kuhn-fab-yuh-leyt), intransitive verb (used without an object)

[> Latin confabulari, confabulat- : com + fabulari, to talk; fabula, conversation]]

1. To talk informally, casually; to chat.

2. To unconsciously fill gaps in one’s memory with fantasy believing it to be factual.

confabulation, noun

confabulator, noun

confabulatory, adj.

“Fable” also derives from the same Latin root, fabula. To confabulate can be to just swap stories or fables with your friends or to just “shoot the breeze.” Happy Confabulations today on C/A!

I shall not ask Jean Jacques Rousseau

If birds confabulate or no.

- William Cowper (1731–1800)


Twittering Machine, Paul Klee (1879 - 1940)

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Foggy-Paris, 1934 by Brassai

nu.bi.lous (noo-buh-luhs, nyoo-), adj.

1. Cloudy or foggy.

2. Obsucre or vague; indefinite.

- Random House Unabridged

[> Latin nubilus, cloud + ilus, adjectival suffix; not to be confused with nubile, adj., of a

female of marriageable age or development which derives from Latin nubilis, to wed.]

Related forms or words:

nubilose, adj.

nubiferous, adj. bringing or producing clouds

nubigenous, adj. born of or produced from clouds

nubilate v. t., to cloud

- Webster Dictionary, 1913 at U. of Chicago’s ARTFL project

nubia (noo-bee-uh), noun [from L. nubes, a cloud], a woman's light, fleecy wrap, worn over the

head and shoulders. - Webster's New World

“How far the disparting and convolving luminous nebulae may go to solve this nubilous question,

I leave to scientific and philosophic minds to decide.”

-Creation, a sacred poem by Oxoniensis pseudo, pub. 1852

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con.volve (kuhn-volv),

a verb used with or without an object, convolved, convolving,

[From Latin con , with + volvere , to roll, turn or twist]

To roll or wind together; to coil or twist.

A good example is a rope, for not only can you coil it up for storage but the rope itself

is composed of twisted strands of material; the strands are convolved together.

Convolving a rope is also coiling it into a convolution. Other examples are convolved threads

or rods of steel which we call “springs;” and convolved strands of dough which we call “pretzels.”


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There are so many words which are descendants of the Latin volvere convolving in my mind just now that I hardly know how to escape from their serpentine coils. There are at least these: convolve, involve, revolve, volute, involute, voluted, volution, volvulus and todays selection:

de.volve (di - volv), verb, [c.1420, from L. devolvere "to roll down," from de- + volvere "to roll" - online etymology dictionary].

verb with an object:

1. to pass on a duty or responsibility to, or shift upon another person.

2. (obsolete) to cause to roll downward.

verb without an object:

1. To be passed on from one to another.

2. (archaic.) To roll or flow downward.

-based on Random House Unabridged Dictionary.

“All higher motives, ideals, conceptions, sentiments in a man are of no account if they do not come forward to strengthen him for the better discharge of the duties which devolve upon him in the ordinary affairs of life.” - Henry Ward Beecher

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Salvador Dali, Christ of St. John of the Cross, 1951.

nu.mi.nous (noo-min-us; nyoo-), adjective.

[ 1640 < Latin numinis, < nuere, to nod; numen a nod of assent or command (as from the divine).]

1. of or like a numen; supernatural.

2. beyond understanding; mysterious; filled with a sense of a supernatural presence.

3. spiritually elevated; sublime.

Related words:

numen, “presence”; a presiding divinity or spirit of a place.

numena, plural of numen.

“In that work [The Idea of the Holy], however, Otto was conscious of moving beyond his previous efforts, exploring more specifically the nonrational aspect of the religious dimension, for which he coined the term numinous, from the Latin numen (“god,” “spirit,” or “divine”), on the analogy of “ominous” from “omen.” -from an article on Rudolf Otto at Britannica Online.

“Our culture is not much concerned with the numinous, but in language we preserve many of the marks of a culture that is.” - Richard Mitchell, Less Than Words Can Say

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Last week's word's and fragmentary definitions. For completeness and for the pronuciations please scroll upwards.

1. ma.ieu.tic, adj...........of the Socratic teaching method

2. con.fab.u.late, v.i.,.....to chat; (twitter?) bwink

3. nu.bi.lous, adj...........cloudy, foggy

4. con.volve, v.,..............to roll together, twist, turn, coil.

5. de.volve, v.i.,v.t.,.......to pass onto another; to roll down

6. nu.min.ous, adj..........of or like a numen; mysterious, awesome, sublime.

They are all useful words, and it is difficult for me to choose a favorite between, nubilous, convolve and numinous; but I am quite wrapped up with convolve. Convolve and its cousins are revolving in my grey matter, so that I am reminded of another word that just may have the same grandfather: evolve. (Just a minute while I consult a dictionary.) .................. Just as I thought! Convolve is L. com, together + volvere, to turn, roll; whereas, evolve is formed of L. e, out + volvere, to roll.

Now that this family of words has devolved into your awareness, do not let these words dissolve into the nubilous regions where strenuous maieutic efforts are needed to bring them forth into your numinous convolving confabulations. (Please twitter quietly... :)

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di.aph.a.nous (dahy-af-uh-nuh s) adj.

[1614, from Medieval Latin diaphanus, < Greek diaphanes, < dia- (prep.), through, between, across, by, of, + -phane shine or appear.]

1. sheer and light; very transparent or translucent.

2. of a delicate form, airy.

3. vague, insubstantial.

Related words:

di.aph.a.nous.ly, adverb

di.aph.a.nous.ness, noun

di.aph.a.ne.i.ty, noun (dahy-af-uh-nie-uh-tee)

di.aph.a.nom.e.ter (dahy-af-uh-nom-uh-ter), noun, an instrument for measuring transparency.

"Resembling bright bubbles, these diaphanous expanses of gas and dust belong to the category of astronomical phenomena known as nebulas." -Ron Cowen, Science News Online, May 24, 2003


Nebula located in the Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy


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the word nebulous I know, and sometimes use, along with ephemeral, transitory. I never heard of nubilous, unless you're talking about a young woman who has marriagable charecteristics.


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I never heard of nubilous - D. Bishop

It is a nice word. I never heard of it either! (until some sixty plus years after being baptized into the English language, I saw it in my dictionary.) In the Latin roots there is just one letter difference between speaking of clouds or of weddings! :)

Nubilous and nebulous are almost the same when used to speak of the foggy, misty, vague and indefinate. The word 'nebulous' does have connections with astronomy in English, the first definiton in my Webster's New World is "of or like a nebula." Looking at 'nebula,' it says, "1. any of several light, misty, cloudlike patches seen in the night sky, consisting of groups of stars too far away to be seen singly, or of masses of gaseous matter."

D.Allan posted: nu.bi.lous (noo-buh-luhs, nyoo-), adj.

1. Cloudy or foggy.

2. Obsucre or vague; indefinite.

- Random House Unabridged

[> Latin

nubilus, cloud + ilus, adjectival suffix; not to be confused with nubile, adj., of a

female of marriageable age or development which derives from Latin

nubilis[color:6600CC], to wed.]

The Latin root for nubilous is nubilus, cloud, and for nebulous, nebulosus full of mist, foggy; and for nubile & the adj. nubility, the root is nubilis < nubere, to veil oneself(thus the bride obscures as with a white mist her full glory). It's amazing! Thanks for bringing it up, D. Bishop. Now it is evident how these three adjectives are related: nubilous, nebulous, and nubility (the state of being nubile.)

And the recent WOD diaphanous(a veil is diaphanous) just above with a photo of galactic clouds!!!

That word ephemeral.... excuse me.... I must hie me aback 't me dictionary.....

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Fan-Tailed Cuckoo

of eastern Australia


photo: K. Vang and W. Dabraka

cu.cu.li.form (kyoo-kyoo-leh-form), adjective [< Latin cucul cuckoo + I + FORM]

- Pertaining to or resembling the order of cuculiformes which includes the family of cuckoos and roadrunners.

Cuckoos have slender bodies, long tails, strong legs and love to eat hairy caterpillars that other birds dislike. Many lay their eggs in the nests of other birds thus devolving their parental responsibilities on to their neighbors.

- http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Cuckoo

Roadrunners, about 22 inches long, are clumsy, weak fliers, so prefer to run. Using their stout bill, they pound insects, lizards, and snakes to death, then swallow the victim head first. - http://p2.www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9376990

Roadrunner, Southwestern U.S.A.


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That reminds me of a cat who lies in our driveway and will not move for a car unless it keeps inching slowly toward her. She knows we can see her! :)

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cuck.oo-spit (koo-koo-spit), noun [ < late Middle English, 1350 - 1400, cokkouspitle; "so called from the spitlike secretion found on the plant and thought to be left by the bird." - Random House Unabridged]

1. a spit-like froth seen on some plants, exuded by certain young insects, as froghoppers, which forms a protective covering for the insect; also called frog-spit.

2. any insect which forms such spit-like frothy exudates upon plants.

Click on this link to find out how 'cuckoo-spit is really made. http://www.uksafari.com/froghopper.htm

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naught also nought (nawt), noun, adjective, adverb, preposition.

Originating before 900, the Old English word nauht or nōht was a contraction of nāwiht or nōwhit, which was equivalent to (no) + wiht (thing). One can still hear the sound in the phrase "not a whit." "To my mind to kill in war is not a whit better than to commit ordinary murder." - Albert Einstein


1. nothing.

2. zero (0).


3. lost, ruined.

4. Archaic. worthless.

5. Obsolete. morally bad. (thus the word naughty)


6. Obsolete. not.

"It is nought good a sleping hound to wake." - Geoffrey Chaucer

"The fool sees naught but folly; and the madman only madness." - Kahlil Gibran

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