Return to the full glossary index.
galboy (back to top)
“…it helped them control the men. Especially the tough ones they called devils. They believed that if a devil had a galboy [a sex slave] he would be quiet.”
Haywood Patterson, in his autobiography Scottsboro Boy, on why prison authorities at Alabama’s Atmore State Prison in the 1930s encouraged homosexual rape. Quoted in James Gilligan. Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic. (1996) New York: Vintage Books, 1997. p. 169.
galenical (back to top)
Pertaining to the thought of the late second-century physician and author Clarissimus Galen.
“While written in Latin, the Fabrica [De fabrica humani corporis by Andreas Vesalis, 1543] is truly vernacular in the sweeping scorn and violence of its language in dealing with Galenical and other superstitions.”
Fielding Garrison, History of Medicine. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders, 1929. p 219. Quoted by Osborn Segerberg, Jr. The Immortality Factor. New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., Inc. 1974. p 101.
“As the Galenic concept of disease, with its emphasis on the four humors, prevailed in post-Classical Western Europe, the leech assumed a more critical role in medical therapies.”
“Leeching the folly of dogmatic authority.” Stanley M. Aronson. Providence Journal. June 20, 2005. p A9.
gasmantel (back to top)
“Melanie Klein’s patient [in her 1935 paper on threshold phenomena] dreamt of urinating into a gasmantel that was confused with a urinal and a frying pan.”
Eric Rhode. On Hallucination, Intuition, and the Becoming of O. (ESF, 1997) Amazon Digital Services, 2014. Kindle Position 1550.
gastrulate (back to top)
A process during fetal development in which a blastula changes to a gastrula.
“Suppose you’re a young Muslim whose neurons have been bathing in the rich, sensory atmosphere of warfare, radical Islam, and instability from the time you were gastrulating in the womb, from which you shimmied out into a world of baroque violence where the staccato sounds of Apache helicopter blades has become as familiar to you as your mother’s voice.”
Jesse Bering. The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2011. p. 64.
gay (back to top)
“Sometimes he repaired to ‘gay’ houses, hoping to learn something about Odette, although he dared not mention her name.”
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. 386.
gazofilacio (back to top)
“There is an untranslatable Italian word for the mental bank account you acquire by memorizing poetry: it is a gazofilacio.”
Clive James. Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts. (2007) New York: Norton, 2008. p. 135.
gegu (back to top)
“From the tenth through the seventeenth century, it was relatively common in China for people to slice off a piece of their own flesh and boil it to make a broth to nourish and heal an ailing parent, uncle, or parent-in-law (gegu, “filial slicing”; Yu, 2012a, 2012b).”
Alan Page Fiske and Tage Shakti Rai. Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Gelassenheit (back to top)
“The German word for serenity is Gelassenheit, which could literally be translated ‘the condition of having let go.'”
James Hollis. Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves. New York: Gotham Books, 2007. p. 181.
gentilezza (back to top)
”Much is demanded of those who are to be really proficient at play [in a love affair]. Courage and imagination, humor and intelligence, but in particular that blend of unselfishness, generosity, self-control and courtesy that is called gentilezza.”
Isak Dinesen [Karen Blixen]. On Modern Marriage and Other Observations (1924). Translated by Anne Born. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986. p. 83.
geodesy (back to top)
Measuring the Earth.
“His calling was geodesy: that is, applying mathematical precision to the earth’s size and shape.”
Ted Steinberg. Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014. p. 78.
gerontocracy (back to top)
Rule by elderly people.
“It must be taken into account here that penicillin and other wonder drugs seem to be having a side-effect of converting more than one religious family into a species of gerontocracy.”
Donald L. Gelpi, S.J. Functional Asceticism: A Guideline for American Religious. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1966. p. 137.
gestetnered (back to top)
“There was a new, messily gestetnered notice pinned to the board.”
Ryan O’Neill. “The Saved.” Printed in The Weight of a Human Heart: Stories. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2012. p. 194.
gibbous (back to top)
Adjective. Describing the moon in a phase where it is illuminated between half and full.
“A gibbous moon lay on its back above Ballynahinch Castle.”
Nina FitzPatrick. Daimons. Boston: Justin, Charles & Co, 2003. p. 233.
gigging (back to top)
“There would be gigging for frogs in the lakes at midnight.”
Lauren Groff. Fates and Furies. New York: Riverhead, 2015.
gimbals (back to top)
“The klieg lights shifted on their gimbals and glittered his brilliantined hair.”
Colin W. Sargent. The Boston Castrato. Great Britain: Barbican, 2016. p. 54.
gleet (back to top)
Discharge due to gonorrhea.
“Life contains these things: leakage and wickage and discharge, pus and snot and slime and gleet. We are biology.”
Mary Roach. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. New York: Norton, 2004. pp. 83-84.
gloomth (back to top)
“[Horace] Walpole invented a term, gloomth, to convey the ambience of Gothick; [architect James] Wyatt’s houses were the very quintessence of gloomth.”
Bill Bryson. At Home: A Short History of Private Life. New York: DoubleDay, 2010. p. 152.
Gluggaveður (back to top)
Literally “window-weather.” Cold weather that for some reason looks deceptively nice when you first look out the window.
“10 words and phrases in Icelandic that don’t exist in English.” Jón Kaldal. Iceland Magazine. May 27, 2015.
gnomic (back to top)
“The diplomat had been following protocol for thirty-five years, as walls crumbled and empires fell, as the world grew smaller and cables became teleconferences and the expansive language of diplomacy reduced to the gnomic and officious patter of email.”
Ronan Farrow. War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence. W. W. Norton, 2018.
goddam (back to top)
An English soldier, so-called by the French at the time of Joan of Arc.
JOAN. Listen to me, squire. At Domrémy we had to fly to the next village to escape from the English soldiers. Three of them were left behind, wounded. I came to know these three poor goddams quite well. They had not half my strength.
ROBERT. Do you know why they are called goddams?
JOAN. No. Everyone calls them goddams.
ROBERT. It is because they are always calling on their God to condemn their souls to perdition. That is what goddam means in their language. How do you like it?
George Bernard Shaw. Saint Joan (1923). New York: Penguin Books, Inc., 1946. pp 61-62.
goffered (back to top)
“He had light reddish-brown hair, slightly goffered on the temples.”
Viktor Shklovsky. A Hunt for Optimism. (Originally 1931). Translated by Shushan Avagyan. Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2013. p. 28.
gormless (back to top)
“What’s happened to me?”
“I told you. You’re dead. And risen again as my creature, replete with gifts to better serve your master. My, what a gormless look. Oh, yes, it’s true, you’ve regained some youth. But, alas, no wit.”
T. Baggins. Soulless. 2013.
goudou-goudou (back to top)
The earthquake in Haiti in 2010.
“Around 1m Haitians have been living like Ms Michel in tents or under tarpaulins since January 12th last year, when Port-au-Prince was devastated by a huge earthquake officially estimated to have killed 230,000 people. A year that began with goudou-goudou, the onomatopoeic neologism Haitians use to refer to the quake, ended with cholera on a death march across the country, a sometimes violent electoral dispute and a palpable vacuum of leadership.”
“The year of surviving in squalor.” The Economist. Jan. 8, 2011. p. 35.
greaves (back to top)
“There is an icily ironic scene of him putting on his sumptuous armor, the last word in sabots and greaves, all lavishly embossed and embroidered, with the pentangle, symbol of virtue and purity, painted in gold on the shield.”
James Lasdun. Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked. New York: Picador, 2013. p. 89.
guelder (back to top)
“June’s like a guelder rose, the dogwood’s umbels, and the bark of the elder, all plants that mark these hills with centuries of growth and form. * * * And then the coming to, the smells of grass and mud, carbolic soap on skin and clothes.”
Will Eaves. Murmur. Bellevue, 2019.
guerdon (back to top)
“We are the horrors of deadliest woe,
Repeating the guerdon of crime.”
“Chee Chee,” 1928 musical, Herbert Fields (book), Lorenz Hart (lyrics)
gueridon (back to top)
“You’ll promenade with a gueridon with gas jets, serving each table in turn with Lobster Thermidor and bullet ramekins of béarnaise.”
Colin W. Sargent. The Boston Castrato. Great Britain: Barbican, 2016. p. 46.
guyed (back to top)
“…we accepted, lock and stock, our teachers’ prejudices about the limits of useful inquiry. Unwittingly, in fact, we guyed them.”
Liam Hudson. The Cult of the Fact. London: Jonathan Cape, 1972. p. 43.
haboob (back to top)
“Haboobs, sandstorms that can arise after tornadoes hit the ground in the desert, are rare in the Tehran area.”
“Tehran: Haboob from hell.” The Week, June 13, 2014. p. 7.
Hackordnung (back to top)
The pecking order in a henyard. Coined by German biologist Thorleif Schjelderup-Ebbe. The word entered American political journalism in the 1950s.
Citation: David Berreby. Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind. New York: Little, Brown, and Co. 2005. p 266.
hallux (back to top)
”Gwennie stood, pop pop of bikini flesh. Goodness, he would lick her crown to hallux.”
Lauren Groff. Fates and Furies. New York: Riverhead, 2015.
harridan (back to top)
A nagging woman. Perhaps derived from the French haridelle, an old horse.
“Though he lived with a harridan amid impossible domestic circumstances, he felt that his reactive emotions were forbidden, and their tumultuous presence demonstrated the magnitude of his sins.”
James Hollis. Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves. New York: Gotham Books, 2007. p. 187.
haruspicy (back to top)
Etruscan divination by peering into the organs of dead animals.
“…their sacred science [sorcery in Mesopotamia] was as highly esteemed as haruspicy in Etruria.”
Franz Cumont. The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism. Authorized translation. Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1911. p 188.
“If the null hypothesis is always true — that is, if haruspicy is undiluted hocus-pocus — then only one in twenty experiments will be publishable [in an imagined peer-reviewed International Journal of Haruspicy that requires that findings be statistically significant]. … Modern medicine and social science are not haruspicy. But a steadily louder drum circle of dissident scientists has been pouring out an uncomfortable message in recent years: there’s probably a lot more entrail reading in the sciences than we’d like to admit.
Jordan Ellenberg. How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking. New York: Penguin, 2014. p. 146.
haskalah (back to top)
“The Jews were no less reactionary than the Gentiles, and their intellectuals, the Maskilim, or Men of Haskalah, or Enlightenment, proved more potent than the authority of a Va’ad.”
E. N. Adler, from the introduction to Aspects of the Hebrew Genius, edited by Leon Simon. London: George Routledge and Sons, and New York: Block Publishing Co, 1910. p. xxiv.
haversack (back to top)
A carrying bag.
“…the Lord has placed in the haversack of every single creature a book containing recipes for all the rest…From a philosophic standpoint every single species of animal, vegetable, or mineral is capable of engendering the rest…”
Sjón. From the Mouth of the Whale. (2008) Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb (2011). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013. p. 207.
heartwood (back to top)
“…a hundred others faded off. The friends had been whittled down. The ones who remained were heartwood, marrow.”
Lauren Groff. Fates and Furies. New York: Riverhead, 2015.
henna gaijin (back to top)
“The Japanese,” says Wright, “have a phrase, ‘henna gaijin.’ It means ‘strange foreigner.’ Not the kind of loud and clumsy Westerner–that’s what they expect–but the one who tries to live like a Japanese.
“But it’s hard to be Japanese. The culture’s textures are strong partly because they are so powerfully inculcated. It’s not something you can just take up later in life.”
“The Elusive Japan.” Sebastian Smee. Boston Globe, July 14, 2013, p. M2.
hetaira (back to top)
Greek for “courtesan.”
Used by J.-P. Vernant, in the introduction to Marcel Detienne. The Gardens of Adonis: Spices in Greek Mythology. Translated from French by Janet Lloyd. New Jersey: The Humanities Press, 1977 (first published 1972). p ix.
hexateuchal (back to top)
Pertaining to the first six books of the Hebrew Bible.
“The narratives telling how heaven and earth, plants and animals, man and woman came into being are but the opening act in the hexateuchal account of the redemption from Egypt and the eventual settlement in the promised land.”
Merold Westphal. God, Guilt, and Death: An Existential Phenomenology of Religion. (1984) Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1987. p. 230.
hilla-ridden (back to top)
“Hilla-ridden–to have the stag–was a West Cornish term for a man whose life was riddled with nightmares. Legend claimed that a man could be cured if he washed in Madron Well.”
“A Man and a Woman.” Robin Schone. Printed in Fascinated: Tales of Erotic Romance. New York: Kensington Books, 2000. p. 353.
hipster (back to top)
Someone whose lifestyle incorporates current, youthful, high-society fashion and music trends.
“In a 1957 essay, Norman Mailer proposed the solution: ‘The White Negro.’ Instead of being a conformist ‘Square,’ one could be a ‘Hipster’ by adopting the style whites attributed to blacks: jazzy, free, hedonistic.”
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 137.
humilific (back to top)
Language that expresses humility .
“The language may occasionally appear too honorific or humilific for contemporary tastes, but I have preferred to render it as accurately as possible, although the words may sometimes be as empty as the ‘dear sirs’ and ‘yours faithfullys’ of epistolary English.”
Raymond Dawson, in a note on Sima Qian (145-86 BCE), Historical Records. Translated by Raymond Dawson, 1994. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. p. xxi-xxii.
hure (back to top)
German for “whore” (prostitute).
“Will Concepta do the decent thing and take back her hure of a daughter?”
Nina FitzPatrick. Daimons. Boston: Justin, Charles & Co, 2003. p. 73.
hyperdelic pandrogynous phoenixes (back to top)
“Well a bizarre sequence ov circumstances and insensitivities combined with other unknown executive decisions and choices resulted in Nick and many ov his extended gathering ov creative souls and artists feeling belittled, misled and inappropriately treated at thee club where PTV3 were to have risen as thee HYPERDELIC PANDROGENOUS PHOENIXES that they are!”
Accessed November 22, 2003
hypertrophy (back to top)
“In a medical-biological sense hypertrophy is the abnormal enlargement of an organ or tissue due to exaggerated growth of constituent cells. In an analogical sense one can speak of hypertrophied rationalism, materialism and humanism, meaning by this an exaggerated reliance on reason, matter and humanity…”
Hans-Gerhard Koch. The Abolition of God: Atheistic Ideology in Relation to the Christian Faith. Trans. Robert W. Fenn. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963. p 129.
“hypertrophy of the intelligence as a symptom of incipient degeneration”
Hermann Hesse. Beneath the Wheel. Trans. Michael Roloff. New York: Bantam Books, 1970 (originally 1906). p 3.
hypodescent (back to top)
“According to the rule of hypodescent (the social and legal practice of assigning a genetically mixed-race person to the race with less social power) I am the daughter of two black people, the granddaughter of four black people, the great-granddaughter of eight black people.”
Caroline Randall Williams. “You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument.” New York Times. June 26, 2020.
iataxqhana (back to top)
“In order that the officers who are permanently on duty in the palace may be able to perform their duties conveniently and thoroughly, the King has had a small private office built for each of them within the precincts of the palace. In these offices they can work undisturbed; and hence the name of iataxqhana (i.e. house of solitude or house of quenching thirst) has been given to them.
The Commentary of Father Monserrate on his journey to the court of Akbar (1580-1582). Translated by J. S. Hoyland and annotated by S. N. Banerjee. Originally completed 1590; this edition 1922. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 2003. p. 206. The word iataxqhana is footnoted to “Yatash Khana”.
idiographic (back to top)
Describing individual details.
“In his speech, ‘Geschichte und Naturwissenschaft’ [‘History and Natural Science’], Wilhelm Windelband tries to convince us that there is a fundamental division between two different forms of knowledge. One form is directed to the universal, the other one to the individual; one form is ‘nomothetic,’ the other ‘idiographic.’ The former seeks after general laws; the latter describes individual facts.”
Ernst Cassirer. Verene, Donald Phillip, ed. Symbol, Myth, and Culture: Essays and Lectures of Ernst Cassirer 1935-1945. (1979) New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. p. 122.
idoneous (back to top)
“The lack of an idoneous language turns some lovers into laughable mountebanks.”
F. Gonzalez-Crussi. On the Nature of Things Erotic. Orlando, Fl.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988. p. 173.
Ijtihad (back to top)
“Ijtihad: Independent legal reasoning based on the sacred sources (hadith or the Quran). It usually contrasts with imitation — legal reasoning that closely follows settled precedent.”
Taner Edis. An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 2007. p. 10.
imaginal (back to top)
“Following the scholar of Sufism, Henri Corbin, they have adopted the word imaginal (from mundus imaginalis, ‘imaginal world’) to describe that in-between reality which Jung calls psychic and which I have been calling daimonic.”
Patrick Harpur. The Philosopher’s Secret Fire: A History of the Imagination (2002). Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2003. p. 41.
immanensity (back to top)
“…we also—and first, and especially—have an experience of immanence and immensity, which, following the poet Jules Laforgue, we can call immanensity.“
Andre Comte-Sponville. The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality. Translated by Nancy Huston. London: Viking, 2007. pp. 144-145.
indigenous pyrophilia (back to top)
Native people’s love of fire.
“Over the centuries the burning created an intricate ecosystem of fire-adapted plant species dependent on indigenous pyrophilia.”
Charles C. Mann. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. p. 5.
ineffable bosh (back to top)
“They then fell upon each other’s neck and wept scalding rills down each other’s spine in token of their banishment to the Realm of Ineffable Bosh.”
Ambrose Bierce. “Two of the Damned.” Printed in The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter, and Fantastic Fables. New York: Albert & Charles Boni, 1926. p. 217.
inglenook (back to top)
“Next, the very idea of domesticity itself came under attack. Coziness had to go, the moralists were clear about that. Which was why their interiors, unlike those of Loos, had no snug alcoves or fireside inglenooks.”
Witold Rybczynski. Home: A Short History of an Idea. (originally published 1986) London: Simon & Schuster, 2001. p. 200.
inouï (back to top)
“In my classes at the International Collège international de philosophie, I explored the meanings, the stakes of the word ‘inouï’ [unprecedented, unheard of].”
Paul Virilio, with Bertrand Richard. The Administration of Fear. Translated by Ames Hodges. Les editions Textuel, 2012. Translation: Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2012. p. 85.
ipsedixitism (back to top)
An assertion without an argument to back it up. From ipse dixit, Latin for “he said so.”
“…note to all writers, everywhere: one cannot be a Communist and a philosopher, if you will permit an ipsedixitism.”
William F. Buckley, Jr. Quotations from Chairman Bill: The Best of Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. Compiled by David Franke. Pocket Book, 1971. p 41. from On the Right, Sept. 30, 1967.
“But Professor Perry is, of course, not content with his ipse dixit.”
W. D. Ross. The Right and the Good. (1930) London: Oxford University, 1946. p. 87.
irredentist (back to top)
“States could therefore exploit the threat from the living dead to acquire new territory, squelch irredentist movements, settle old scores, or subdue enduring rivals.”
Daniel W. Drezner. Theories of International Politics and Zombies: Revived Edition. Princeton University Press, 2014.
irrefragable (back to top)
“These two circumstances furnished the numerous believers in witchcraft with arguments in divinity and law which they conceived irrefragable.”
Sir Walter Scott, Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft (1830)
“In the course of a few years he had become an admirable farmer ; the landowners throughout the province were glad to take his advice or follow his example, and the accounts which he now laid on the table by the side of Mary’s couch — three goodly rolls — proved by the irrefragable evidence of figures that he had actually doubled their revenues from the estates of which he had been the manager.”
Georg Ebers. Serapis. New York: William S. Gottsberger, 1885. p. 63.
irremediable smash (back to top)
Something that is thoroughly broken.
“But if, not merely passively ignoring the intermediaries, you actively deny them to be even potential requisites for the results you are so struck by, your epistemology goes to irremediable smash.”
William James. The Meaning of Truth: A Sequel to ‘Pragmatism.’ New York: Greenwood Press, 1968. (Originally 1909.) p 147.
irruption (back to top)
“Although I heard his words, they took time to sink in. It didn’t happen immediately, but when it did, I experienced a sudden irruption of insight, a stream of intense illumination, a holistic apprehension of an entire process of knowing.”
Wayne Teasdale. A Monk in the World: Cultivating a Spiritual Life. Novato, Calif.: New World Library, 2002. p. 7.
“And now, having saved Atar by this archangelic irruption and planted his camp upon a high limestone plateau, he stands there like a guerdon to be won, and such is his magnetism that the tribes are obliged to march towards his sword.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Wind, Sand and Stars. (1939) Translated into English by Lewis Galantiere. London: The Folio Society, 1990. p. 98.
isolatoes (back to top)
“Pip is in fact depicted as being the least of the sailors aboard the Pequod, the most isolated of that crew of isolatoes, tragically gone mad after he floats for too many hours upon an open sea with no hope of rescue.”
Thomas Dumm. Loneliness as a Way of Life. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008. p. 78.