Glossary: Words beginning with A, B, C

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ABC

A (back to top)

accidic

acosmic

adminicle

Aesopical

aggiornamento

agnates

aigrette

agonistic

Aldershottian

alpenglow

altermondialist

altricial

ambarvalia

amigados

amortize

anakalypteria

analphabetism

andirons

anexelegktos

anfractuosity

animadversion

anosognosia

antimacassar

antipeponthos

apocatastasis

apostrophize

archaism

argot

astrakhan

atelophobic

accidic (back to top)

noun. A sociopath. From accidie (sloth, laziness, apathy, despair)

“The accidic is an ‘outsider’ who is completely detached from both the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ sides of the value continuum.”

Criminologist S. Giora Shoham. Quoted in Kathleen Norris. Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life. New York: Riverhead Books, 2008. p. 119.

acosmic (back to top)

Transcending the world.

“The way of a sannyasi or a sannyasini (nun) in India is an acosmic path — that is, not of this world. It transcends the values, attachments, and obligations of worldly existence.”

Wayne Teasdale. A Monk in the World: Cultivating a Spiritual Life. Novato, Calif.: New World Library, 2002. p. xxii.

adminicle (back to top)

In Scots law: A document giving evidence as to the existence or contents of another, missing document.

“But happily for the investor, forgery is an affair of practice….the floor bare, the sofa heaped with books and accounts enveloped in a dirty table-cloth, the pens rusted, the paper glazed with a thick film of dust; and yet these were but adminicles of misery, and the true root of his depression lay round him on the table in the shape of misbegotten forgeries.”

Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne. The Wrong Box. (1889) London: Pan Books, 1966. pp. 72-73.

Aesopical (back to top)
Meaning uncertain.

“The Black, or Negro-Eunuchs, are appointed to guard the Apartment of the Women, and they make choice, for that office, of the most deform’d and most Aesopical, that can be found.”

Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, quoted in Peter Tompkins. The Eunuch and the Virgin: A Study of Curious Customs. New York: Bramhall House, 1962. p 49.

aggiornamento (back to top)

Daily living for monks and nuns.

“In the jargon of aggiornamento, asceticism can hardly class as an ‘in’ word.”

Donald L. Gelpi, S.J. Functional Asceticism: A Guideline for American Religious. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1966. p. 15.

agnates (back to top)

“The honor of a group of agnates is collective, and all assume full and equal responsibility for violently avenging any dishonor to any of them, whether it results from insult, injury, or homicide, or fornication or adultery with a wife, sister, or mother (Barth, 1965: 81–6, 137).”

Alan Page Fiske and Tage Shakti Rai. Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

agonistic (back to top)

“At the same time, the communal guest–host bond is the complement and reflection of the agonistic relations among all men in honor cultures: every man is potential guest and host to every other honorable man.”

Alan Page Fiske and Tage Shakti Rai. Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

aigrette (back to top)

”Thwarted in this, she hurried to fasten the aigrette set with diamonds and its three rust brown pheasant feathers over an unsightly bulge of fabric in the turban’s center front.”

Ann Chamberlin. The Sultan’s Daughter. New York: Forge, 1997. pp. 103-104.

Aldershottian (back to top)

Aldershottian

“In reactionary Russia in our own century a woman soldier organized an effective regiment of amazons, which disappeared only because it was Aldershottian enough to be against the Revolution.”

George Bernard Shaw, in his 1924 Preface to Saint Joan. New York: Penguin Books, Inc., 1946. p. 17.

alpenglow (back to top)

“When the first beams of sunlight hit the snow-covered mountains of Colorado each morning, the reflection of the sun’s rays turns the white snow pink. This hue is called alpenglow, and it is a beautiful sight to behold.”

Brian Luke Seaward. Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water: Reflections on Stress and Human Spirituality. (1997) Deerfield Beach, Fla.: Health Communications, Inc. 2007. p. 299.

altermondialist (back to top)

“More and more intellectuals and organization leaders of Arab, African, or Asian descent (mainly but not exclusively Muslims) have developed a position on successive Israeli governments and have rallied left-wing, far left, or altermondialist (but also right-wing and center-right) political movements that criticize Israeli policies.”

Tariq Ramadan. What I Believe. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. p. 104.

altricial (back to top)

“There are two kinds of hatching development types that occur in birds; precocial and altricial. Precocial chicks are those that can walk, have down, open eyes, and are ready to eat on their own within hours of hatching. … Crows (in fact all corvids) have altricial young which are naked little jelly-bean monsters with closed eyes upon hatching and are reliant on their parents/family for weeks to months to nearly a year (depending on the species).”

“I Am Not A Baby Crow!” Jennifer Campbell-Smith. The Corvid Blog. 13 October 2013.

ambarvalia (back to top)
An ancient Roman magical ceremony involving walking around the fields.

H. J. Rose. Religion in Greece and Rome. New York: Harper and Row, 1959. Originally published as Ancient Greek Religion (1946) and Ancient Roman Religion (1948), London: Hutchinson and Co., Limited.

amigados (back to top)

“A man had lived with a woman for eighteen years. They were not married, just amigados

* * *

And if a woman had lived with a man, bearing him children, she said so, and she neither lowered her eyes nor blushed with shame. She did, however, distinguish between amigado, or a state of nature, and that blessed condition achieved by the cacique mumbling a few words in Latin over her uncomprehending head; but without heat or emphasis. It was just a fact, of no importance.”

Julian Duguid. Green Hell. London: George Newnes, 1935. p. 34, 157.

amortize (back to top)

To cause to shrink over time, as payments on a loan decrease one’s debt. From the Latin for “death.”

“Such is the double effect of the temporal procession on our sentiments, and even more so on ressentiment: time discolors all the colors and tarnishes the flash of emotions, time amortizes joy just as it consoles pain, time puts gratitude to sleep just as it disarms rancor, the one and the other indistinctly.”

Vladimir Jankelevitch. Forgiveness. Translated by Andrew Kelley. University of Chicago Press, 2005. Originally Le Pardon, 1967. p 29.

anakalypteria (back to top)

The “gifts of uncovering” that a bride gives to her groom after he removes her veil.

H. J. Rose. Religion in Greece and Rome. New York: Harper and Row, 1959. p 33. Originally published as Ancient Greek Religion (1946) and Ancient Roman Religion (1948), London: Hutchinson and Co., Limited.

analphabetism (back to top)

Lack of an alphabet; illiteracy.

“…we [the Jews] are the only people who have never known analphabetism.”

Hannah Arendt, interviewed by French writer Roger Errera in The New York Review of Books, Oct. 26, 1978.

andirons (back to top)

“The andirons with the brass flowers at the ends appeared unreal; the burning logs were just logs that were burning and not the comfortable symbols of an indestructible mode of life.”

Ford Madox Ford. The Good Soldier. Originally 1915. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1995. p 141. The footnote defines “andirons” as: “Pair of horizontal bars with short feet, one placed on each side of hearth to support burning wood.”

“We wound up on the brick hearth, my hair full of ashes and my head tender from where it had bumped against the andiron.”

Leah Hager Cohen. No Book But the World. New York: Riverhead Books, 2014. p. 280.

related: fender

“Macaulay issued his impromptu definition of an educated man – one who reads Plato with his feet on the fender. He meant, of course, reads Plato in Greek (and perhaps it would be well to add that he meant by a fender something that goes around a fireplace).”

Edward Le Comte, introduction to “Lycidas.” John Milton. Paradise Lost and Other Poems. New York: Penguin, 1981. p. 216.

anexelegktos (back to top)

“As being beyond scrutiny (anexelegktos), such stories, wrote Thucydides, ‘won their way to the mythical’ (muthodes), a term, that, as G. E. R. Lloyd observes, ‘clearly acquires pejorative undertones’ when used ‘in a collocation associated with unverifiability.'”

Lisa Zunshine. Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2006, revised March 2012. (Kindle Edition.)

anfractuosity (back to top)

“Deprived of the hunter’s instinct that had then driven us (or so it was, at least, for Abbot Melani), we dragged ourselves forward, suffering even more from the anfractuosities of the way, although my travelling companion was unwilling to admit it.”

Rita Monaldi and Francesco Sorti. Imprimatur. (2002) Translated from Italian to English by Peter Burnett (2008). Edinburgh: Polygon, 2008. p. 89.

animadversion (back to top)

Criticism.

“But after the fourteenth century the practices which fell under such a description were thought unworthy of any particular animadversion, unless they were connected with something which would have been of itself a capital crime, by whatever means it had been either essayed or accomplished.”

Sir Walter Scott, Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft (1830)

“Across the garden, a crow laughed derisively and muttered a few animadversions about upstart braggarts.”

Robert Anton Wilson. Coincidance: A Head Test. (1988) Temple, Ariz.: New Falcon Publications, 1996. p. 228.

“The likeness is what he is claiming, is formed by his perception — even if the likeness then also becomes itself the object of animadversion.”

Berel Lang. Heidegger’s Silence. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1996. p. 17.

“Gorgias salvó a su acarnio de la disciplina a cuentagotas y de otros inconvenientes similares, por lo que la ya franca animadversión de Esquines se tornó enfermiza.”

Vicente Herrasti. La muerte del filósofo (Acarnia en lontananza). (2004) Mexico: Santillana Ediciones Generales, 2008. p. 40.

“After some wounding comments [to Robert Southey about his poems] – ‘the four last lines appear to drag excrementitiously’ – Coleridge concluded: ‘I have animadverted on those poems only which are my particular favorites.’”
Adam Sisman. The Friendship: Wordsworth and Coleridge. New York: Viking, 2007. p. 149. Citing STC to RS, 27 December 1796; Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. E.L. Griggs (Oxford, 1956-71) 6 vols, 1, 290-1.

anosognosia (back to top)

“The word — which derives from the Greek nosos, “disease,” and gnosis, “knowledge” — denotes the inability to acknowledge disease in oneself. * * * Emotion and feeling are nowhere to be found in anosognosic patients, and perhaps this is the only felicitous aspect of their otherwise tragic condition. Perhaps it is no surprise that these patients’ planning for the future, their personal and social decision-making, is profoundly impaired. Paralysis is perhaps the least of their troubles.”

Antonio R. Damasio. Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. New York: Avon Books, 1998. p 62, 64.

“The word anosognosia means that a patient does not recognize or understand the nature of his illness. People sometimes experience anosognosia after strokes or brain injuries, and with diseases of the brain like Alzheimer’s.

Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, says, ‘Half of [all] people [with schizophrenia] don’t recognize that they’re sick.'”

“When schizophrenics don’t recognize their illness.” Connie Brichford. Everyday Health. June 9, 2014. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.

anosognosia (back to top)

antimacassar

A cloth meant to protect furniture from the oil of human skin.

“…I would turn to and fro between the prayer-desk and the stamped velvet armchairs, each one always draped in its crocheted antimacassar…”

Marcel Proust. Swann’s Way (Du Cote de Chez Swann, 1917). Translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff (1921). New York: The Heritage Press, 1954. p. 51.

“Maybe all that languor of yesteryear is still out there somewhere in a slag heap of antimacassars and long sentences with dependent clauses, along with all the discarded decorative stuff that junks up art and clear communication.”

Patricia Hampl. Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime. Orlando, Fl.: Harcourt, 2006. p. 11.

antimacassar (back to top)

A cloth meant to protect furniture from the oil of human skin.

“…I would turn to and fro between the prayer-desk and the stamped velvet armchairs, each one always draped in its crocheted antimacassar…”

Marcel Proust. Swann’s Way (Du Cote de Chez Swann, 1917). Translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff (1921). New York: The Heritage Press, 1954. p. 51.

“Maybe all that languor of yesteryear is still out there somewhere in a slag heap of antimacassars and long sentences with dependent clauses, along with all the discarded decorative stuff that junks up art and clear communication.”

Patricia Hampl. Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime. Orlando, Fl.: Harcourt, 2006. p. 11.

antipeponthos (back to top)

Corrective justice (Greek).

Used multiple times in Vladimir Jankelevitch. Forgiveness. Translated by Andrew Kelley. University of Chicago Press, 2005. Originally Le Pardon, 1967.

apocatastasis (back to top)

Reconstitution, restitution, or restoration to the original or primordial condition. (Greek: ἀποκατάστασις, apokatástasis)

“…that road, the one that conducts her without let or hindrance to a point of crisis: to endings and apocatastasis.”

Nick Harkaway. Gnomon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. p. 4.

apostrophize (back to top)

To address someone who is not present, rhetorically.

“As I was in ignorance of the Ambassador’s good intentions, I abused him roundly, and when I found myself alone in a sort of jail I apostrophized His Excellency in terms with which my association with the convicts and my sea voyage had made me familiar.”

Nicolas Fromaget. Eunuchs, Odalisques, and Love: A Frenchman’s Amatory Adventures in Turkey. (Translated into English from the French Le Cousin de Mahomet, ou la Folie Salutaire (1742); translator unknown.) New York: Panurge Press, 1932. p. 41. (The author died in 1759; his year of birth is unknown and there is no surviving portrait or personal anecdote.)

“I thought that he was probably at the door, accompanied by the Cadi, so as to force me to be circumcised in view of the position in which I had been discovered with a Mahometan woman. I was so firmly convinced of this, that I pushed her roughly, not to say brutally, away from me, and extricated myself from her ardent embraces, apostrophizing her in terms which should have covered her with shame had she been susceptible of such a feeling.”

Ibid. pp. 188-189.

see also eastwood

To apostrophize someone represented by an empty chair. A verb coined Aug. 30, 2012 after actor Clint Eastwood spoke to the U.S. Republican Party Convention using an empty chair as a prop representing the current President Obama.

“At times, Eastwood sent the crowd into laughing fits when he pretended Obama was offering colorful objections. “What do you want me to tell Romney?” Eastwood asked the empty chair. … The Twitter handle ‘Invisible Obama,’ which said it was sitting ‘Stage left of Clint Eastwood,’ quipped that ‘The GOP built me.’ An hour after Eastwood’s speech, it already had 20,000 followers. The move spawned a new trend with people posting photos of themselves pointing at empty chairs with the hashtag ‘eastwooding.'”

“Eastwood, the empty chair and the speech everyone’s talking about.” Halimah Abdullah, CNN. August 31, 2012.

archaism (back to top)

An ancient or old-fashioned word or idiom.

“However, it is very legitimate to ask, whether Sharia is embraced in an effort to stem the tide of cultural alienation, an effort to return to “the good old days” (archaism in the words of Arnold Toynbee), or whether there may be an altogether different motive as the driving force.”

“Acceptance of Sharia Law in Nigeria.” Margit Cleveland, General Manager, RMS Media Services. www.internews.org/rmsmedia/sharia/sharia.html

argot (back to top)

Jargon.

“In evangelicals’ argot, you might say that there on the carpet I was convicted of my sinfulness.

Lauren F. Winner. Girl Meets God: A Memoir. New York: Random House, 2002. p. 255.

astrakhan (back to top)

Lamb’s wool, named after a city in Russia.

“She makes an imposing picture in high, laced boots, black underwear, a kind of lion tamer’s uniform, a gray astrakhan cap, and a mouth full of gold teeth.”

Erich Maria Remarque’s The Black Obelisk (1957). USA: Crest, 1958. p. 179.

atelophobic (back to top)

“What is your biggest fear?

I am Atelophobic (the fear of not being enough)”

Utsav Raj. “Obsessions.” My Spirals blog. Undated.

B (back to top)

baetylia

bamboozle

banth

bazuco

beeves

befurbelowed

beslubbered

betel quids

bezoar

BFO

bibelot

bibliolatry

blackguardly scurrility

black world

bolmakissie

bombyx

bonzeling

borborygms

bovaryism

Brobdignagian

brogrammer

brutiful

bumf

bumptious

bureaucracy

burke

baetylia (back to top)

A sacred stone. A Romanization of the Hebrew, Beth El, where Jacob built a stone pillar according to the Bible.

See: George Ryley Scott. Phallic Worship: A History of Sex and Sexual Rites. (1966) London: Senate, 1996. p 109. Cited to Thomas Lewis, Book V, Ch 4, p 24.

bamboozle (back to top)

To fool or deceive.

“We have been bamboozled, however, by religionists, by politicians, by our fathers and mothers, by all sorts of people who tell us, ‘You’re not [eternal and part of the universe].’ ”

Alan Watts. “The Philosophy of Meditation,” in Still the Mind: An Introduction to Meditation. Novato, California: New World Library, 2000. p 91-2.

banth (back to top)

“Simultaneously the creature shot into moonlight in full charge upon her, its tail erect, its tiny ears laid flat, its great mouth with its multiple rows of sharp and powerful fangs already yawning for its prey, its ten legs carrying it forward in great leaps, and now from the beast’s throat issued the frightful roar with which it seeks to paralyze its prey. It was a banth — the great, maned lion of Barsoom.”
Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Chessmen of Mars (Barsoom, #5). 1922.

bazuco (back to top)

“The Colombian capital is trying to wean addicts off a crack-like drug by giving them high-potency marijuana. In pilot program, 300 people addicted to bazuco, a cheap cocaine derivative that is as addictive as heroin, will receive marijuana bred with a high THC content to relieve the anxiety and jitters of withdrawal. Bazuco has become a public health crisis in Bogotá, where at least 7,500 of an estimated 9,500 homeless people are addicts. Possession of small quantities of marijuana is legal in Colombia, but dealing it is not.”

“Bogotá, Colombia: Medical marijuana.” The Week, May 17, 2013. p. 6.

beeves (back to top)

Cattle.

“One way a band select from forage drives

A herd of beeves, fair oxen and fair kine,

From a fat meadow-ground, or fleecy flock,

Ewes and their bleating lambs, over the plain…”

John Milton. “Paradise Lost,” Book XI, Lines 646-649. Paradise Lost and Other Poems. [Paradise Lost was published in 1667.] New York: Penguin, 1981. p. 317.

“‘The animals selected were beeves about to undergo slaughter in the Chicago stock-yards,’ wrote La Garde, deeply perplexing the ten or fifteen people who would be reading his book later than the 1930s, when the word ‘beeves,’ meaning cattle, dropped from everyday discourse.”

Mary Roach. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. New York: Norton, 2004. p. 134.

“While Gen. Travis laid in a supply of extra ‘beeves’ in advance of the Mexican assault from Gen. Santa Anna at the Alamo, we are fearful of running low on Slim Jims and Moon Pies as the Walmarts are turned into detention centers for citizens robbed of their constitutional rights.”

“We Texans are brave enough to resist Pentagon.” James C. Moore. CNN. May 6, 2015.

befurbelowed (back to top)

“Children, freshly befurbelowed, were gathering for their games under the oaks.”

Kate Chopin. The Awakening. (1899) New York: Avon, 1972. P. 23.

beslubbered (back to top)

Probably a coinage from slobber, to drool or lick so that something is covered with saliva, and blubber, the fat of sea mammals.

“In due time he was dragged across, half strangled and dreadfully beslubbered by the feculent waters.”

Ambrose Bierce. “The City of Political Distinction.” Printed in The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter, and Fantastic Fables. New York: Albert & Charles Boni, 1926. p. 193.

betel quids (back to top)

“Heavy users of betel quids reveal their addiction when they smile. Their teeth are stained a reddish-black, dyed from years of chewing potent parcels of areca nuts and tobacco, wrapped in a lime-coated betel leaf.”

“Nothing to smile about: Asia’s deadly addiction to betel nuts.” Hilary Whiteman, CNN, Nov. 5, 2013.

bezoar (back to top)

A kind of brain tumor or stone believed by alchemists to have magical properties.

“A bird with such trivial news to impart surely harbors no bezoar in his skull…”

Sjón. From the Mouth of the Whale. (2008) Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb (2011). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013. p. 19.

BFO (back to top)

“BFO — blazing flash of the obvious”

Perry M. Smith. Assignment: Pentagon: How to Excel in a Bureaucracy. Third Edition. Washington, DC: Brassey’s, Inc. 2002. (Originally 1989.) p 64.

bibelot (back to top)

An ornament.

“The absence of any artwork whatsoever on the walls, the lack of bibelots and mementoes, the disinterest in beautifying the space in any way reminded her too much of how Allwine had lived.”

Dean Koontz. Frankenstein: Prodigal Son (#1 of 5 in the Frankenstein series) (2005) Bantam, 2007.

bibliolatry (back to top)

Worship of a book. (From “bible” and “idolatry”.)

“Wherever bibliolatry has prevailed, bigotry and cruelty have accompanied it.”

T. H. Huxley, Science and Hebrew Tradition. Quoted in Ibn Warraq. Why I Am Not a Muslim. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995. p 104.

blackguardly scurrility (back to top)

“…there is only one other apparent way of accounting for the sympathetic representation of Joan as a heroine culminating in her eloquent appeal to the Duke of Burgundy, followed by the blackguardly scurrility of the concluding scenes.”

George Bernard Shaw, in his 1924 Preface to Saint Joan. New York: Penguin Books, Inc., 1946. p. 20.

black world / white world (back to top)

U.S. Department of Defense slang for secret defense operations and the open civilian world, respectively.

“‘The computers that were secretly developed to go to the moon are now on your desktop,’ Nick Cook, aerospace consultant for Jane’s Defence Weekly told CNN. ‘It all ends up in the commercial world in some ways, but black world technology is hard to penetrate in terms of figures and types of programs,’ he said.”

“New technology from ‘black world’.” Nick Easen for CNN. Monday, September 8, 2003.

“During Desert Storm, a number of black programs ‘turned white.’ For instance, the public knows much more abut the F-117 (stealth fighter) than it did before 1991.”

Perry M. Smith. Assignment: Pentagon: How to Excel in a Bureaucracy. Third Edition. Washington, DC: Brassey’s, Inc. 2002. (Originally 1989.) p 49.

A zebra study is an “Analysis of black and white programs in a coherent and complete way”.

Perry M. Smith. Assignment: Pentagon: How to Excel in a Bureaucracy. Third Edition. Washington, DC: Brassey’s, Inc. 2002. (Originally 1989.) p 69.

bolmakissie (back to top)

Head over heels.

“He left Oom plastering his head against the krantz to hold it up, while–pht!–he shot away, and never stopped till he got safe home, where he rolled bolmakissie over and over, laughing to think how he had cheated all the animals again.”

Sanni Metelerkamp. Outa Karel’s Stories: South African Folk-Lore Tales. London: Macmillan and Co., 1914.

bombyx (back to top)

“The under-robe was of soft sea-green bombyx silk, with a broad border, delicately embroidered, of a garland of roses and buds.”

Georg Ebers. Serapis. New York: William S. Gottsberger, 1885. p. 82

bonzeling (back to top)
“An entire flock of shaven-headed little bonzelings filled the offices of choristers, servants and kitchen boys.”

Charles Pettit. The Son of the Grand Eunuch. New York: Blue Ribbon Books, Inc., 1927. p. 103.

borborygms (back to top)

“Or else, a sort of internal rumbling would begin to run along the various hidden pipes. Then these borborygms would come to a stop, close at hand or in the distance, and burst, one after the other, precipitately. … The last borborygm had disappeared briskly, like the last of a file of rats into a hole.”

Jules Romains. The Body’s Rapture. Originally issued in French under the title Psyché, in three parts: Lucienne, Le Dieu des Corps, and ’Quand le Navire…’ Translated from the French by John Rodker. New York: Liveright, Inc. 1933. p. 303.

bovaryism (back to top)

“…many of us are deeply marked by literary characters, to the point where we are no longer able to tell the difference between reality and fiction. This phenomenon is richly illustrated by works like Don Quixote or Madame Bovary. (In fact, it could be described as “bovaryism.”) In this state, the subconscious fails to recognize the fictive quality of literary characters and comes to see them as just as real as the inhabitants of our world, and perhaps even more so.”

Pierre Bayard. Sherlock Holmes was Wrong: Reopening the Case of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell. New York: Bloomsbury, 2008. p. 113.

Brobdignagian (back to top)

“Selling water on the ‘frontage system’—not according to the amount used—helped kindle such Brobdingnagian thirst.”
Ted Steinberg. Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014. p. 155.

“I will let this son of Mars—the officer—relate his adventure in his own grandiose style, and with all its Brobdignagian proportions.”

Samuel S. Cox. The Isles of the Princes; or, the Pleasures of Prinkipo. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1887. p. 272.

“The Brobdingnagian watchman is admirably contrived, and the whole of that scene well calculated to excite wonder and amazement.”

Theatre No. XIV. Covent Garden. Account of Friar Bacon, a new Pantomime. Rambler’s Magazine, January 1784.

brogrammer (back to top)

A computer programmer who is a “bro” (“brother”).

“He was tall and good-looking, with a kind of brogrammer affability.”

“The War to Sell You a Mattress is an Internet Nightmare.” David Zax. Fast Company. Oct. 16, 2017.

brutiful (back to top)

A combination of “brutal” and “beautiful.”

”Is God coming?

I know what you mean.

Have there ever been two more perfect, two more brutiful sentences uttered?”

“The most honest, beautiful, important question I have ever heard anyone ask.” Glennon Doyle Melton. Momastery. April 1, 2015.

bumf (back to top)

Useless papers. Abbrevation for bum-fodder.

“He had better things to do with his Saturday afternoon than waste it on bureaucratic bumf.”

Philip Bedford Robinson. Masque of a Savage Mandarin: A Comedy of Horrors. (1969) Great Britain: Panther, 1974. p. 42.

“…of those who received unsolicited adverts through the post, only 3% bought anything as a result. If the bumf arrived electronically, the take-up rate was 0.1%.”

“No hiding place.” The Economist, May 25, 2013, p. 80.

bumptious (back to top)

“And then along came Hugo Chávez, a bumptious Venezuelan former lieutenant colonel who, having staged a failed military coup against a democratic government, got himself elected as president in 1998.”

“Hugo Chávez’s rotten legacy.” The Economist. March 9, 2013. p. 10.

bureaucracy (back to top)

Resembling an extremely primitive life-form; like the substance from which life evolved; slimy.

“The first appearance of the word ‘bureaucracy’ (la bureaucratie) in print was in a July 1764 issue of Melchior von Grimm’s Correspondance littéraire, the biweekly newsletter of arts, letters, and politics whose subscription list included some of the most powerful names in Europe. … Grimm recounted how [Vincent de] Gournay had once remarked to him that ‘we have in France an illness that takes a terrible toll; this illness is called bureaumania.’ He even described this mania as ‘a fourth or fifth form of government, by the name of bureaucracy.’

This new word ‘bureaucracy’ simultaneously invoked and violated a well-worn semiotic code. To the classic three regimes, democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy—that is, rule by the many, the few, and the one—Gournay had now added rule by a piece of office furniture. This piece of furniture was expandable, metonymically, to include the men who sat behind it, the offices in which they found themselves, and ultimately the entire state apparatus. More than an ordinary neologism, ‘bureaucracy’ was a pun, a ‘rattling of the semiotic chain,’ as Lacan says.

* * *

Indeed, the word ‘bureaucracy’ might have disappeared from the lexicon altogether had it not been either reinvented or rediscovered—it is not clear which—in the final months of the Old Regime. In 1788, Louis-Sebastien Mercier, the chronicler of Parisian life and letters, explained in his Tableau de Paris that ‘bureaucracy’ was ‘a word recently coined to indicate, in a clear and concise manner, the overgrown power possessed by simple clerks who, in the various offices of the administration, make up and push forward all sorts of projects, which they find most often in dusty drawers in the offices, and which they favor for reasons of their own, good or bad.’ These men, he added, ‘are all the more powerful with their pens because their actions are never visible.’”

Ben Kafka. The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork. New York: Zone Books, 2012. p. 77, 80.

burke (back to top)

“For his part, William Burke [who smothered people in Edinburgh in the early 1800s and sold their bodies to anatomists] was eventually brought to justice. A crowd of more than 25,000 watched him hang. Hare was granted immunity, much to the disgust of the gallows crowd, who chanted “Burke Hare!” – meaning “Smother Hare,” “burke” having made its way into the popular vernacular as a synonym for “smother.” Hare probably did as much smothering as Burke, but “She’s been hared!” lacks the pleasing Machiavellian fricatives of “She’s been burked!” and the technicality is easily forgiven.”

Mary Roach. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. New York: Norton, 2004. p. 51.

C (back to top)

cabalistic flapdoodle

cacique

caique

cairngorn

calaboosed

calibanism

caparisoned

capercailzie

captious

cardiognosis

carissime

carminative

carom

casque

catafalque

cathect

cavaillons

ceiled

chairoplane

chaleur

chamfered

chantey

chapfallen

charmylopi

charpoy

chemolithoautotrophic

cheshbon nefesh

chimerical

chthonic

churl

clerisy

clitpenoid

clusterfrack

cocotte

coffle

compassarium

concordat

condign

confab

conscientization

conspicuous austerity

contumelious

cooee

coracle

cosmomorphism

cotillion

cottabus

counterworld

cowboy up

crapulous

critter

cryoprotection

cuckold

cucurbit

cunya

curragh

cynic spasm

cynocertain

cytoarchitectonic

cabalistic flapdoodle (back to top)
Airy-fairy nonsense.
“Himmler was a mighty devotee of cabalistic flapdoodle…”
Clive James. Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts. (2007) New York: Norton, 2008. p. 61.

cacique (back to top)

“The Chiquitano Indians [of Paraguay] have a profound regard for age, revering it as they revere their time-muddled conception of God; and they choose the oldest member of the village as their headman. He has no authority save his own personality, yet he acts as priest in a priestess community. He is responsible for the well-being of the village, instilling a sense of moral obligation into the sun-soaked laziness of the young, marrying his flock, baptizing and burying them until a wandering priest shall arrive and set the seal of the Church on those ceremonies that cannot be postponed. This man is called the cacique.

Julian Duguid. Green Hell. London: George Newnes, 1935. p. 119.

caïque (back to top)
A rowboat on the Bosphorus.
“I therefore took a caïque or native boat (although warned that I would certainly be fired on) and went to Beshiktash, a landing-stage on the Bosphorus which may be regarded as being, so to speak, the seaport of Yildiz, and which was still held by the Sultan’s men.”
Francis McCullagh. The Fall of Abd-ul-Hamid. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1910. p. 243.

“He could quite well have taken a motor launch but as he had ample time he preferred the more leisurely pace of the ancient caïque which better enabled him to enjoy the scenery.”
Dennis Wheatley. The Eunuch of Stamboul. Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1935. p. 60.

”Instead of finding the ship I wanted, I got incredibly inflated offers to use the caïque for the provisioning instead.”
Ann Chamberlin. The Sultan’s Daughter. New York: Forge, 1997. p. 155.

cairngorn (back to top)
“Rising, she pinned a cairngorn brooch at her neck, and went down to dinner.”
Agatha Christie. And Then There Were None. (1939) New York: Berkley Books, 1991. p. 27.

calaboosed

(back to top)
“‘Eventually I’d reach the Pabei. I’d never met one. Half of them had been calaboosed because they wouldn’t abide by the new laws.
* * *
‘There had been some fighting downriver and the kips came in for a roundup. They calaboosed half the village. This young man had been visiting his cousin — nothing to do with the fight — resisted arrest, and died from a blow to the head.'”
Lily King. Euphoria. (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014.) Amazon Kindle edition. pp. 16, 44.

Calibanism (back to top)

Primitive, fearful spiritual beliefs; from a character in Shakespeare.

“Unfortunately, The Church did not believe that there was any genuine soul saving religion outside itself; and it was deeply corrupted, as all the Churches were and still are, by primitive Calibanism (in Browning’s sense), or the propitiation of a dreaded deity by suffering and sacrifice.”
George Bernard Shaw, in his 1924 Preface to Saint Joan. New York: Penguin Books, Inc., 1946. p. 30.

“In Caliban the development of intelligence without conscience produces quick-sighted animal sense and cunning; and being also without reverence or sympathy, his contact with a superior produces cowardice, envy, and hate. But some deep-lying instinct of a more spiritual sort makes all the faculties quiver with superstitious dread, and stirs this bestial brother of us all with a vague sense of mysterious powers at work in all things around him. * * * “When the mother tells the very little girl that God is everywhere, the question comes like a shot, ” Is he in the sugar-bowl?” “Yes,” whereupon the child claps on the cover and exclaims in innocent glee, “Then I’ve got him.” This is pure Calibanism minus grown-up malignity.”
“Caliban Upon Setebos.” Charles Gordon Ames. The Boston Browning Society Papers. 1886-1897. London: Macmillan and Co, Ltd. 1897. p, 68, 70. http://www.archive.org/stream/bostonbrowningso00bostuoft/bostonbrowningso00bostuoft_djvu.txt Accessed December 20, 2009.

caparisoned (back to top)
“It was borne between two richly caparisoned mules, whose housing of red cloth covered them almost entirely, whilst tassels of various colours hung about their heads.”

James Morier. Zohrab, the Hostage. London: Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, 1832. Vol. I, p. 28.

capercailzie (back to top)
”He who pursues such a course becomes as blind and deaf as the cock capercailzie courting his hen in a fir tree — especially at those moments when he imagines he is being most astute.”
Dag Hammarskjöld. Markings [Vägmärken], (1963) Translated by Leif Sjöberg and W. H. Auden, 1964. Ballantine Books/Epiphany, 1987. p. 34.

captious (back to top)

Tom leaned forward and put his hands on the table. ‘Do you know the word captious?’
I shook my head.
‘I didn’t either. Fabulous word—it means apt to notice and make much of trivial faults. Fault-finding. Difficult to please. Sound like anyone you know?’ He set down his cup. ‘I must have been an analyst’s nightmare.’
Stephen Grosz. The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 2013. p. 173.

“Given this large body of work and the diverse issues he addressed, it may seem captious to offer a book (even a short one) that associates Heidegger with an issue he did not write about — that takes as its subject his responsibility for the silence.”

Berel Lang. Heidegger’s Silence. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1996. p. ix.

“From the monkey house came the loud, insane hooting of some captious primate, filling the whole woodland with a wild hooroar.”

“Twins” by E. B. White. Printed in Understanding the Essay, edited by Edward O. Shakespeare, Peter H. Reinke, and Elliot W. Fenander. USA: The Odyssey Press, 1966. p. 25.

cardiognosis (back to top)

“Evagrius listened well enough to realize that these monks had attained a profound understanding of human nature. He termed it cardiognosis (knowledge of the heart)…”

Kathleen Norris. Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life. New York: Riverhead Books, 2008. p. 27.

carissime (back to top)

Latin for “dearest.”

“She told me she was amused by the way novices [at a Jesuit seminary] addressed each other in Latin as Carissime (‘dear fellow’), which they pronounced Criss-Me.”
Garry Wills. Why I Am a Catholic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003. p 18.

carminative (back to top)

Inducing flatulence.

“Aniseed is, as is well known, an aromatic seed. It has a carminative effect that, in the mind of the marquis, added unexpected delights to his uncommon practices.”

F. Gonzalez-Crussi. On the Nature of Things Erotic. Orlando, Fl.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988. p. 83.

carom (back to top)

To strike and rebound, as in a game of billiards. From the Spanish carambola, billiard ball. In modern French, carambolage refers to an accident with multiple collisions.

“Astonishing, is it not, how even the history of everyday life is full of startling caroms of cause and effect?”

“To the ‘Gallant Girls’ (Just Kidding) of National Cathedral School,” June 6, 1999. Reprinted in George F. Will. With a Happy Eye But…America and the World, 1997-2002. New York: The Free Press, 2002. p. 11.

“Fear caromed from Saganeiti and Coatit to Asmara, then rolled down the Ginda pass toward the coast.”

Raymond Jonas. The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011.

casque (back to top)

“Here was Fountain Dale, where he had his encounter with that stalwart shaveling Friar Tuck, who was a kind of saint militant, alternately wearing the casque and the cowl…”

“Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest” by Washington Irving (1835). Reprinted in Understanding the Essay, edited by Edward O. Shakespeare, Peter H. Reinke, and Elliot W. Fenander. USA: The Odyssey Press, 1966. p. 175.

catafalque (back to top)

A structure that bears a corpse.

“…Tammouz’ corpse was drawn on the middle of a catafalque, among torches and shorn hair.”

Gustave Flaubert. Salammbo. Translated by A. J. Krailsheimer. England: Penguin Books, 1977. (Originally published 1862.) p. 236.

“Behind him, higher than a catafalque, rose a huge chest, fitted with hanging rings like crowns.”

Gustave Flaubert. Salammbo. Translated by A. J. Krailsheimer. England: Penguin Books, 1977. (Originally published 1862.) p. 65.

“But they have their own way, those Orientals, and it is different from ours, for, by eleven o’clock at night, the illuminations had guttered themselves out without any one to watch them, and the only lights that shone in some of the streets were the spectral rays that streamed from the marble and porphyry tombs of dead Sultans and illuminated the high catafalques and the turbans at their feet, turbans enormous as if they had belonged to huge, primeval men. The watchmen beat the pavement with their iron sticks, the dogs howled again in the empty streets of Stamboul, and the great triple city slept, I hope, in the peace of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.”

Francis McCullagh. The Fall of Abd-ul-Hamid. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1910. p. 15.

“We of our generation must draw aside and watch the capers and somersaults of the young around this ornate catafalque.”

Giuseppe di Lampedusa. The Leopard. (1958) Translated from the Italian by Archibald Colquhoun. New York: Pantheon Books, 2007. p. 180.

“Among the [more socially elevated] Romans, beds were highly specialized: the matrimonial bed, the lower sickbed, the catafalque for the deceased, the daybed, and the sofa-evoking dining bed with a cushion to support the arm differ clearly from one another.”

Bernd Brunner. The Art of Lying Down: A Guide to Horizontal Living. Translated by Lori Lantz. Brooklyn: Melville House, 2013. (Originally Die Kunst des Liegens: Handbuch der horizontalen Lebensform, published by Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch GmbH & Co. KG, Kiln, 2012.) p. 82.

“Now the room was vacant, but as her eyes adjusted, she made out the dark form of the catafalque standing in the center.”

James Carroll. The Cloister: A Novel. Nan A. Talese, 2018.

cathect (back to top)

“I now associate those black sneakers with an offbeat, casually institutional smartness. My branded sandals, in a similar manner, signify an earthy, progressive sensibility. On one level, I feel silly even writing about elevating a sneaker or sandal to such status. No object transmits meaning without humans investing it with emotional meaning individually and socially—what psychologists call ‘cathecting’ objects.”

Tom Beaudoin. Consuming Faith: Integrating Who We Are with What We Buy. Lanham, Md.: Sheed and Ward, 2003. p. 7.

“The mystagogue (father or father-substitute) is to entrust the symbols of office only to a son who has been effectually purged of all inappropriate infantile cathexes – for whom the just, impersonal exercise of the powers will not be rendered impossible by unconscious (or perhaps even conscious and rationalized) motives of self-aggrandizement, personal preference, or resentment.”

Joseph Campbell. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. (1949) Novato, Calif.: New World Library, 2008 (third edition). p. 115.

cavaillons (back to top)

Breasts.

“The ads, which seemed scrupulously articulated to insulate against the unreasonableness of Bunco Squad malcontents, presented Therapeutic Ironisers, Vortex Water Energizers, anda product called Herbal Grobust designed to implement volumewise madam’s Cavaillons.”

Woody Allen. Mere Anarchy. New York: Random House, 2007. p. 4.

ceiled (back to top)

“Before him was a low-ceiled chamber with a dirt floor.”

Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Chessmen of Mars (Barsoom, #5). 1922.

chairoplane (back to top)

“Winter, a circuit diagram of trees; and winter fairs, the times we are wanton, where everything that happens has a wild intensity — that child sliding across the ice, that gaff lad fucking in the chairoplane’s paybox — which riot repeats itself in rides and roundabouts that from a distance whir faintly, their sound receding like the mechanism of a buried watch.”

Will Eaves, Murmur (2018)

chaleur (back to top)

“There is no longer any official froideur. But there’s no official–what’s the word?—chaleur, either.”

Christopher Hitchens on tensions with his brother; interviewed in The Guardian, 2006. Quoted in Frank Schaeffer. Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism). Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2009. p. 77.

chamfered (back to top)

“Lacking building stone of any kind, [George] Washington faced his house [at Mount Vernon] with planks of wood, carefully chamfered at the edges to look like blocks of cut stone and painted to disguise knots and grain.”

Bill Bryson. At Home: A Short History of Private Life. New York: DoubleDay, 2010. p. 302.

chantey (back to top)

“The men cheered and put their backs into it. Peglar at the sweep started a chantey and the men sang along, the first real singing they’d done in months.”

Dan Simmons. The Terror. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2007. p. 571.

chapfallen (back to top)

Dispirited. Chap is an Old English word for “jaw,” related to the Icelandic kjaptr.

“They came back all chapfallen to Shath.”

Ursula K. LeGuin. The Left Hand of Darkness. (1969) New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2004. p. 27.

charmylopi (back to top)

“Sorrow for sin, sorrow for wounding him, becomes the ground of exuberant joy. The fifth-century abbot St. John Climacus coined a word for it, ‘charmylopi,’ which means ‘joyful sorrow.’ This experience of repenting and rejoicing is the basis of all Orthodox spirituality.”

Frederica Mathewes-Green. At the Corner of East and Now: A Modern Life in Ancient Christian Orthodoxy. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1999. p 29.

charpoy (back to top)

A light bed, in India.

“There, every morning, tens of thousands of young men sit in the tea shops, reading the newspaper, or lie on a charpoy humming a tune, or sit in their rooms talking to a photo of a film actress.”

Aravind Adiga. The White Tiger. New York: Free Press, 2008. pp. 45-46.

chemolithoautotrophic hyperthermophilic archaebacteria (back to top)

Bacteria that currently live in the chasm created by the eruption of Krakatoa on August 27, 1883. The natural explosion had 10,000 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb and was heard thousands of miles away.

As explained by Simon Winchester, author of Krakatoa: The Day the World
Exploded, August 27, 1883
(HarperCollins). Quoted in “The day the world exploded: Author looks at ‘Krakatoa,’ then and now.” Adam Dunn. CNN. July 11, 2003.

cheshbon nefesh (back to top)

“…cheshbon nefesh, self-criticism, literally ‘soul accounting’…”

Jeremy Benstein. The Way Into Judaism and the Environment. Woodstock, Vt.: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2006. p. 5.

chimerical (back to top)

Adj.; like a chimera, a monstrous or magical composite, after a dangerous lion-goat-serpent hybrid by that name in Greek mythology.

“[Benjamin] Disraeli’s racial convictions and theories about secret societies sprang, in the last analysis, from his desire to explain something apparently mysterious and in fact chimerical.”

Hannah Arendt. The Burden of Our Time. London: Secker and Warburg, 1951. Published in the US as The Origins of Totalitarianism. p 78.

chthonic (back to top)

“Our culture prizes cleverness and self-awareness, but it should be obvious that this approach merely leads to competition and aggression spurred on by anxiety. To live from the mind is to balance in uncertainty on a high wire. The soul is more grounded, and indeed its proper territory seems to be somewhere beneath the ground. There is a fine word for this particular soul and its spirituality—chthonic. It is the level of ground where we plant our seeds and bury our dead. Maybe this is good ground for personal growth, rather than the kind that is full of intention and from where we can see what is going on.”

Thomas Moore. Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. p. 88.

churl (back to top)

“The way churls speak is how they spoke:

One said, ‘Sir Foosher, here we sit.

What a perfect place to shit!

My friend, let’s take a shit right here.”

“Knights, Clerks, and the Two Churls.” Fabliaux Fair and Foul. Translated from the medieval French by John DuVal. Asheville, N.C.: Pegasus Press, 1999. p. 45.

clerisy (back to top)

Learned or literary people regarded as a social group or class.

“To take one of numerous instructive examples, when the progressive clerisy launched an inquisition against the actor Chris Pratt in February over his membership in the wrong kind of church, French appealed to a fictional pluralism.”

“Against David French-ism.” Sohrab Ahmari. First Things. May 29, 2019.

clitpenoid (back to top)

Having to do with the physical structure that is the clitoris in the female and the penis in the male; especially when the subject has a gender identity inconsistent with his or her birth sex and is surgically altering the structure.

“These ‘legs’ can be repositioned forward with respect to the pubic bone, and a flap of abdominal skin used to cover the newly exposed tissue on the clitpenoid shaft.”

Jamison Green.  Becoming a Visible Man.  Nashville: Vanderbilt
University Press, 2004.  pp 193.

cluster-frack (back to top)

An apparent combination of clusterfuck and fracking, from hydraulic fracturing.

“Then Juliet asks the Nurse who the guy she was just crushing on is—and finds out that he’s the son of her father’s mortal enemy. It’s quite a cluster-frack.”

T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper. Changers. Book One: Drew. New York: Black Sheep/Akashic Books, 2014. p. 227.

cocotte (back to top)

A covered dish for hot food.

“Surely, there could have been no bond apart from their cards which could hold together the faded little cocotte with the red hair and the jingle of many brilliants on her thin arms–who by some strange chance had remained so long after the season–and old Mme. de Nangis with the baffling hat and aigrettes, waving and towering above the puffs of her white hair, her lace ruffles and her stacks of hundred franc chips.”

Benjamin Rufus Kittredge. Crowded Solitude. New York: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1930. p. 3.

coffle (back to top)

Human prisoners or livestock chained in a line.

“Behind the men walked several women roped together neck to neck. A coffle–slaves for sale.”

Octavia E. Butler. Kindred. (1979) Boston: Beacon Press, 2003. p. 221.

compassarium (back to top)

“Every window held a red paper lantern, and in their combined light I could make out the central stone compassarium: the circular dais where the Dragoneyes would work their dragon magic.”

Alison Goodman. Eon: Dragoneye Reborn. New York: Viking, 2008. p. 358.

concordat (back to top)

“The beta screen is an obduracy that arouses discord in any assumption of a concordat between mind and body, senses and sense data, self and other, subject and object.”

Eric Rhode. On Hallucination, Intuition, and the Becoming of O. Chapter 4.

condign (back to top)

well-deserved or fitting

“I was well enough acquainted with Turkish custom to be aware that in being introduced into the private apartments of His Highness’s sister I was being made to commit a crime deserving of the most condign punishment.”

Nicolas Fromaget. Eunuchs, Odalisques, and Love: A Frenchman’s Amatory Adventures in Turkey. (Translated into English from the French Le Cousin de Mahomet, ou la Folie Salutaire (1742); translator unknown.) New York: Panurge Press, 1932. p. 88. (The author died in 1759; his year of birth is unknown and there is no surviving portrait or personal anecdote.)

confab (back to top)

“Because Spencer was behind on reading, the teacher wanted to dose him up on drugs for ADD. Joyce confabbed with Heidi about it. It turned out the school was saying the same thing about Alek, because — and this was rich — Alek liked to look out the window in class.”

Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Jeffrey E. Stern. The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes. New York: PublicAffairs, 2016. p. 34.

conscientization (back to top)

“This work toward growth, and ultimately toward justice, has been a very concrete focus in my life and bears a direct relationship to conscientization, the awakening of a deeper awareness of problems that require of us some kind of response, especially when people are suffering.”

Wayne Teasdale. A Monk in the World: Cultivating a Spiritual Life. Novato, Calif.: New World Library, 2002. p. 138.

conspicuous austerity (back to top)

“Conspicuous austerity—it is a curious, antipodean term.”

Witold Rybczynski, writing about the Minimalist movement in architecture and interior design. Home: A Short History of an Idea. (originally published 1986) London: Simon & Schuster, 2001. p. 198.

contumelious (back to top)
Rude or insolent.

“The criminal code describes the corporal punishments inflicted on those who are guilty of adultery, of drinking wine, of contumelious language…”

Mouradgea d’Ohsson, Ignatius. Oriental antiquities, and general view of the Othoman customs, laws, and ceremonies: exhibiting many curious pieces of the Eastern Hemisphere, relative to the Christian and Jewish dispensations; with various rites and mysteries of the Oriental Freemasons. Translated from the French. Philadelphia: Printed for the Select Committee and Grand Lodge of Enquiry, 1788. p 10.

cooee (back to top)

A call to draw attention.

“He can be rather an amusing bird but his wife’s a kind of cooee-stupid blonde.”

The character of Peter Carew in Dennis Wheatley’s novel The Eunuch of Stamboul. Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1935. p. 40.

coracle (back to top)

“The best known example [of Celtic pilgrimage] is St. Brendan, a sixth-century Celtic monk who left behind all that was safe and secure and, accompanied by twelve other monks, set out to sea. The boats used at the time were called coracles, which were small vessels made of animal skins stretched across a wooden frame and sealed with pitch. Brendan and others would set off in a coracle without oars, trusting the wind and current to guide them to arrive where they were being called to go.”

Christine Valters Paintner. Water, Wind, Earth & Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements. Notre Dame, Ind.: Sorin Books, 2010. p. 30.

cosmomorphism (back to top)

Meaning unknown.

“A wrong cosmomorphism transferred categories of power to God, but God is certainly not power in the natural sense of the word.”
Nicolas Berdyaev. The Divine and the Human. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1949. p 4.

cotillion (back to top)

“Independence, temperament, and girlhood met very uneasily in the strange land of cotillion. Navy Cotillion was where officers’ children were supposed to learn the fine points of manners, dancing, white gloves, and other unrealities of life.”

Kay Redfield Jamison. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. New York: Vintage Books, 1996. p. 27.

cottabus (back to top)

An ancient Sicilian form of “beer pong” in which drinkers threw wine from their cups into a bowl.

“Such was the craze for kottabos that some enthusiasts even built special circular rooms in which to play it. Traditionalists expressed concern that young men were concentrating on improving their kottabos rather than javelin throwing, a sport that at least had some practical use in hunting and war.”

Tom Standage. A History of the World in 6 Glasses. New York: Walker and Company, 2006.

“He lived in one of the pearl-edged Carthaginian tents, drank cool drinks from silver cups, played cottabus, let his hair grow and conducted the siege without haste.”

Gustave Flaubert. Salammbo. Translated by A. J. Krailsheimer. England: Penguin Books, 1977. (Originally published 1862.) pp. 139-140.

“La habitación no quedó en completa oscuridad pues afuera, no lejos de la ventana que daba al patio interior, los miembros de la guardia principal jugaban al cótabo alrededor de una hoguera.”

Vicente Herrasti. La muerte del filósofo (Acarnia en lontananza). (2004) Mexico: Santillana Ediciones Generales, 2008. p. 13.

counterworld (back to top)

“One attempt during the 2016 campaign [of Donald Trump] to track his utterances found that 78 percent of his factual claims were false. This proportion is so high that it makes the correct assertions seem like unintended oversights on the path toward total fiction. Demeaning the world as it is begins the creation of a fictional counterworld.”

Timothy Snyder. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2017. p. 66.

cowboy up (back to top)

To rise to the occasion. From the rodeo, when a cowboy thrown from a horse gets back on again. Used to cheer on the Red Sox in the 2003 baseball season.

crapulous (back to top)

Gluttonous.

“But to suppose that she went to bad houses, that she abandoned herself to orgies with other women, that she led the crapulous existence of the most abject, the most contemptible of mortals…”

Marcel Proust. Swann’s Way (Du Cote de Chez Swann, 1917). Translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff (1921). New York: The Heritage Press, 1954. p. 372.

“Those crapulous personages multiply their ecstatic, orgasmic experiences beyond any semblance of reality, page after page, and we come to understand why the artists of surrealist affiliation claimed this nightmarish, hallucinating narrator as their precursor and prophet.”

F. Gonzalez-Crussi. On the Nature of Things Erotic. Orlando, Fl.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988. p. 72.

“As this result could have been produced by a crapulous inferiority as well as by a sublime superiority, the question which of the two was operative in Joan’s case has to be faced.”

George Bernard Shaw, in his 1924 Preface to Saint Joan. New York: Penguin Books, Inc., 1946. p. 4.

critter (back to top)
Slang for “creature.”

“Those who do not believe in God, the creator, should not refer to anything as a creature.”

Mortimer J. Adler. How to Think About God: A Guide for the 20th-Century Pagan (one who does not worship the God of Christians, Jews, or Muslims; irreligious persons). New York: MacMillan, 1980. p 39.

cryoprotection (back to top)

Insulation from extreme cold.

“What this told him was that if trees were cut down and the canopy
was opened up, and it rained or snowed and the butterflies got wet,
they would ‘lose their cryoprotection.'”

Sue Halpern.  Four Wings and a Prayer :  Caught in the Mystery of
the Monarch Butterfly.
 London:  Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2001.  p 64.

cuckold (back to top)

A man whose wife has had a sexual affair with another man.

“The word ‘cuckold’ derives form Old French. Its first appearance in English is thought to be in the anonymous poem ‘The Owl and the Nightingale’ (1250), rendered as ‘cuckeweld.’ A double meaning pertains: cleverness (for the cuckoo, who lays its eggs in another bird’s nest) and stupidity (for the duped bird, who feeds what it believes is its own progeny).”

Susan Squire. I Don’t: A Contrarian History of Marriage. New York: Bloomsbury, 2008. p. 137.

“It’s he who has no wife who is no cuckold.”

Chaucer, “The Miller’s Prologue”. Quoted in Susan Squire. I Don’t: A Contrarian History of Marriage. New York: Bloomsbury, 2008. p. 141.

cucurbit (back to top)

“The alchemist’s array of alembics, retorts, cucurbits and the like were thought of philosophically as one vessel, the round or oval ‘Hermetic egg’ which was an emblem of the psyche itself.”

Patrick Harpur. The Philosopher’s Secret Fire: A History of the Imagination (2002). Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2003. p. 139.

cunya (back to top)

False name or nickname. (Arabic)

“…when asked for names, [Prisoner] 140 shook his head and said he knew only their cunyas — a kind of nom de guerre used by Arabs to protect their identity.”

Chris Mackey and Greg Miller. The Interrogators: Inside the Secret War Against Al Qaeda. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2004. p. 126.

curragh (back to top)

“The object carried by those at the front, which I had mistaken for a curragh, was a coffin.”

Nicholas Blake. The Private Wound. New York: Dell, 1968. p. 46.

cynic spasm (back to top)

Orgasm.

“Reflect on what takes place in the woman [during “the venereal act”]. In her, the excitement of the nervous system, what is called the cynic spasm, is quite as energetic as in the man: often, it is even much stronger, and nevertheless a woman can, generally speaking, engage in copulation, and repeatedly accomplish a complete venereal act within a very short space of time, at much shorter intervals than a man could, and yet without her experiencing extreme fatigue or much exhaustion of strength.”

“Spermatorrhoea,” in Armand Trousseau’s Lectures on clinical medicine: delivered at the Hotel-Dieu, Paris, Volume 1. New Sydenham Society, 1870. p. 450.

cynocertain (back to top)

Unknown.

“The Second Wife of the King was remarkably the cynocertain of the event.”

Waltenegus Dargie. The Eunuch and the King’s Daughter. Philadelphia, Pa.: Neshee, 2005. p. 146.

cytoarchitectonic (back to top)

Referring to the architecture of cells.

“Figure 2-5 depicts a frequently used map of the cerebral cortex based on its varied cytoarchitectonic areas (regions of distinctive cellular architecture).”

Antonio R. Damasio. Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. New York: Avon Books, 1998. p 27.

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