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Hereford Eye
June 18th, 2007, 05:17 PM
http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/booksellers/press_release/100words/

Okay, I can make argument for or against many of these words being on such a list but that isn't the point I wish to make. There were just three on the list that I haven't seen used in things I have read this year. Those three - jejune, moiety, and quotidian - I admit I had to look up a definition. I know I have tired to commit quotidian to memory at least dozen times before. Obviously didn't stick.

Dawnstorm
June 18th, 2007, 06:06 PM
What? No platypus? :p

What's "Moiety"?

***

My immediate thought was: the, a, some, any, how, much, it...

Communication is hard if you don't know those.

Rocket Sheep
June 18th, 2007, 07:24 PM
Moiety? Isn't that when you drink too much Moet and you start to stumble about? :o

"bellicose" is in the Hairy McClairy books for preschoolers. The dog has a bellicose bark. So every kid over 3 in NZ knows that one.

"feckless" just sounds like someone with an Irish accent trying to swear.

The science based ones are valid but only half the others you could use in a book or conversation and not come off as a pompous git. Well... at least where I'm from. I understand that it's harder in the US. ;)

James Carmack
June 18th, 2007, 08:56 PM
Rocket, do you mean to say that it's harder to come off as a pompous git in the US? If so, I disagree. We're an earthy people, you see. We woan' unnerstan' no frilly words. ^o^

I usually pride myself on my vocabulary, but I have to concede defeat to you, Hereford. I blanked on about three or four more than you did. To the dictionary!

And who wouldn't know "euro"? Seems like dude's throwin' us a slow pitch to compensate for some of those curveballs.

Dawnstorm
June 18th, 2007, 09:15 PM
Well, to be honest I only scanned them on the first time through. Some I've never heard before (abstemious, gerrymander, moiety...); for some of those I guessed the meaning (antebellum, loquatious). Some I'm pretty sure I understand in context, but I couldn't say what they mean exactly without context (abjure, lugubrious...). Some make me wonder why they're on the list at all (nihilism, vehement...; Being European I'm not exactly objective on euro...). "Belie" through me off until I realised it's not a French-sounding noun.

And there's bound to be one or the other I think I know but really don't (no examples for obvious reasons).

vicki_girl
June 18th, 2007, 09:18 PM
High school students???:eek:

Are they kidding? They obviously did not talk to the kids at my alma mater.

The kids I knew couldn't tell you the definition of a single one of those words. Most of them struggled with basic grammer, and stuff like the difference between "there", "their", and "they're". Then again, they had to institute a standardize test, because too many kids were graduating without being able to read.:(

[Of course I'm not saying that AHD is wrong. They probably should know those kind of words. The sad state of affairs is that they don't.]

Honestly though, I never heard or read the word "thermodynamics" until college. I can't imagine anyone not in a technical/engineering career field would ever come across that word.

.....Obviously some of you here have, though. Anyone care to enlighten me?

James Carmack
June 18th, 2007, 10:18 PM
If you took high school chemistry, thermodynamics should come up.

Anyway, the point of the list doesn't so much seem to be about words you should use as words you should know as evidence of your mastery of the language. Admittedly, anyone who can nail a good 50% is among the upper crust of English-wielders. Most of the words have little or no occasion for use. A lot of them are just things high foreheads will bandy about to prove their intellect.

And, DS, I think the main reason "belie" threw you off is because you rarely see it in that form. It's usually presented in the past tense or 3PS present, i.e. "She has a maturity that belies her fifteen years."

I'm not surprise you didn't know "gerrymander", not being from the States. It's named after Elbridge Gerry, an American statesman who supported a mildly crooked redistricting bill. Some clever cartoonist thought it looked like a salamander (the dragon kind, not the amphibian), and so the dreaded "Gerrymander" was born. Ever since, the charge of gerrymandering comes with any attempt to redistrict, a staple of American politics. It's a fair charge, since who's going to draw the lines to their disadvantage?

And I'm not ashamed to admit that I learned "lugubrious" from Disney's Hercules (when Hades is addressed as "Your Lugubriousness"). ^_^;

Another problem with our vocabulary is when we think we know what something means, but we really don't. That always embarrasses me when it happens. (Fortunately, I don't usually come across too many people with mad vocab skillz like mine. ^o^ )

Dawnstorm
June 18th, 2007, 10:37 PM
Honestly though, I never heard or read the word "thermodynamics" until college. I can't imagine anyone not in a technical/engineering career field would ever come across that word.

.....Obviously some of you here have, though. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Hi,

"Thermodynamics" is quite a productive term in SF (and occasionally fantasy), spawning plenty of metaphors. It's a discipline of physics (edit: chemistry? I stand corrected) that deals with the distribution of energy in closed systems. A popular concept is entropy, the measure of "disorder" in a system. It's quite complicated, and I'm not an expert, but apparantly in a closed system the amount of energy is constant. Now, there's something like a "temperature equilibrium", or background heat; energy that can't be converted into other kinds (it's why perpetuum mobiles are impossible, and why you don't get 40 °C water by adding 20 °C water to 20 °C water). Applied to the Universe, the law concerned with the increase of entropy (= non-utilizable energy) in a closed system may imply a "heat death of the universe", a state where all the energy in the Universe is busy doing their own thing. No more order, just background heat. Nothing. Science Fiction novels love to talk about the "heat death of the universe"; scientists occasionally, too, but less so.

People read more into thermodynamics than it actually says. I'm not the best physicist around, so I'm sure someone will correct me. :D I do think they should have said "entropy" rather than "thermodynamics", though. It's more often abused.

***

Edit: Hey, "Gerrymander" is a fun word! :D

I do know more words when I don't try to explain them. ;)

"Oh, hair of a mine, a plague on you who would belie my age!" (*grins*)

James Carmack
June 18th, 2007, 11:04 PM
Speaking of entropy, I remember being aggravated at the first Kill Bill, where the Bride is talking about trying to "will my limbs out of entropy". No, Kiddo, the word you're looking for is "atrophy". Geez.

MrBF1V3
June 19th, 2007, 12:01 AM
I must admit, some of the words gave me pause, and some of those that didn't, made me wonder who must know these words, and why. There are some useful words there, but not all, not by any means.

Yeah, I use lugubrious all the time, ya big lug.:)

It's like a list for the game where you come up with false definitions for words and try to convince the other players it's the right one. (I'm good at that one.)

bowdlerize-to steal someone's bowler hat.

chicanery-the place where they can chickens, (or a place where white people should never go alone).

vacuous-opposite of vivacious. (And why wasn't that word on the list?)

How many stories are written using these words? ...We may have the makings of the next flash fiction contest.:rolleyes:

B5

and why is euro on the list and not Amway?