Be Ye Luddite??

I’m going to take you back in history a wee bit to help explain the definitions of today’s words.  First, we’ll go back to the 18th century.  During the Industrial Revolution, textile machines were introduced into wool and cotton mills.  The workers were unhappy because they felt their employment was in jeopardy.  So, those unhappy chaps destroyed the new inventions and burned down the mills in protest.  These protestors were called Luddites – named so after Ned Ludd, an English laborer who destroyed weaving machinery.

Now, the term Luddite ([luhd-ahyt) is used to describe anyone who opposes technology.  If someone would rather use a typewriter instead of a computer to type documents, that person could be referred to as a Luddite.  If Great-Aunt Matilda refuses to learn how to use the remote control for the VCR or doesn’t use the cell phone her children got her for Christmas, she could be considered a Luddite.

Now, let’s meander through the years all the way back to 621 B.C.  There was a politician in Athens, named Draco, who made changes to many of the laws.  These changes were very unpopular because they were extremely severe.  For example, the punishment for minor offenses was death.  Or, if a debtor’s status was lower than that of his creditor, the debtor was forced into slavery.   Draco’s purpose behind these severe punishments was to prevent minor crimes.

So Draconian (drey-koh-nee-uhn) is an adjective that describes actions that are unreasonably severe, going beyond what is right or necessary– actions that are rigorous, harsh, severe, cruel.  When you read in the paper of parents chaining an adoptive child to a bathtub and forcing him to stay there for weeks at a time because he wets the bed, that is Draconian punishment.  Or, when a mother throws her children off the Golden Gate Bridge because the children are ‘evil,’ that is Draconian behavior.

The names of these two people have become part of our vocabulary because their names have become synonymous with their actions.  When you know the person’s history, you know the definition of the word.

If you are reading this blog and/or listening to my podcast, you are definitely NOT a Luddite!  And, I certainly hope that none of your actions would label you Draconian!

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WordSmithie Podcast

I have posted the fifth podcasting session for WordSmithie. It’s short and sweet — yet has excellent and very useful words!

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Enjoying the holidays . . .

Well, today is a Tuesday and the day that I am supposed to post my podcast for the WordSmithie.  Alas, I have been having way too much fun during the holidays and I don’t have a podcast for today.  I’ll see what I can do about getting one out tomorrow.

Enjoy the holidays — and make sure that you tell those who are dear to your heart just how much you care for them!

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A Christmas Conundrum

Do you sometimes have a hard time determining what Christmas present to get for some family member? Like Great-Aunt Bertha who is 89 years old and seems to have everything she needs? You love her dearly and want to get her something but you just can’t figure out what would be best. That is definitely a conundrum.

A conundrum (kuh-nuhn-druhm), which is a noun, is a perplexing question. At Christmas time, the ‘what shall I give . . .’ conundrum is definitely a perplexing question. If someone unexpectedly gives you a gift and you hadn’t planned on giving that person a gift, you have a conundrum about whether or not to get a gift.

A conundrum can also be a riddle where the answer involves a pun or play on words. An example of this would be “What is black and white and read all over?” And the answer is a newspaper.

If the question is too much of a conundrum, you might want to put it in abeyance. Abeyance (uh-bey-uhns) is a noun that means to put something temporarily aside. Maybe you want to wait until you are in a quite place where you can think before you decide what gift to give Great-Aunt Bertha. So, you put the question in abeyance. You temporarily suspend your thinking about it until later. (When you figure out what to get someone like this, let me know . . . .)

Maybe at work, you put a project in abeyance until you can gather more information. You temporarily stop work on the project while gathering that information. About 4:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, employees seem to have a tendency to put work in abeyance. Husbands put their ‘honey-do’ lists on abeyance when Monday night football comes on.

I have also posted the fourth session for the Wordsmithie where you will find some additional words.

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A Diminutive, Svelte Boss

On Friday, I chatted with a group of coworkers about running marathons.  (I personally think that people who run marathons should have their heads examined!)  However, my diminutive boss has run a couple and has qualified to run the Boston Marathon.  She’s quite excited about it.  Because of her running, she has a diminutive, svelte physique.

Diminutive (di-min-yuh-tiv) is an adjective that means small, tiny, little.  My boss is diminutive in height.  (I don’t believe she’s much over five feet three inches tall.)  She is diminutive is weight.  (I’d be surprised if she weighed more than 100 pounds.)  She’s definitely diminutive!

You could refer to a book as being diminutive.  A child sized table or chair is diminutive.  An apartment could be diminutive.

The things that I just mentioned maybe diminutive but they are not svelte.  Svelte  (svelt), an adjective, applies only to human figures, to a person’s physique. (Physique (fi-zeek) is a bonus word for you.  It means body structure.)  A svelte figure is a slender figure, one that is gracefully slender.  That describes my boss perfectly!  Gracefully slender.

May you make it through the holidays keeping your figure diminutive and svelte!

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Are You Odoriferous? Snarky?

Christmas is a great time for the nose! There’s the scent of a freshly cut Christmas tree. There’s the spicy smell of wassail or a cinnamon candle burning. There’s the aroma of a turkey roasting or pumpkin pies fresh from the oven. All of these smells are odoriferous.

Odoriferous (oh-der-if-er-uhs) is an adjective that means yielding or diffusing an odor. Originally, it was used to indicate a pleasant, sweet-smelling odor. Now, an odoriferous smell can be either good (like the ones I’ve listed here) or not so good – like the smell of diesel fumes or the smell of a cow barn. Anything that has an odor, aroma, or scent is odoriferous.

When you use this word, make sure that you pronounce it correct. You will say ‘odor’ and then add ‘iferous.’ Many times, people who use this word know it’s meaning but do not realize that they are mispronouncing it. Instead of saying ‘odor,’ they just say ‘od’ and then add ‘iferous.’

Odoriferous. Smells. Good or bad. Odoriferous.

The other day, I heard a person say snarky. I was intrigued because I hadn’t heard that word before. But I guess that’s because it is chiefly a British slang word and I’m not British . . .

Snarky (snahr-kee), an adjective, means testy or irritable, short-tempered, rude, sarcastic, disrespectful, snide. If someone says something rude to you, they are being snarky. If they don’t have patience or are bad-tempered, they are snarky. Christmas shopping can cause people to be snarky. Children can cause parents to be snarky. Bosses can cause employees to be snarky! Snarky.

May your holidays be pleasantly odoriferous and void of snarky folks!

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A New Word and A Change

I recently read an article in the newspaper that talked about the nascent voices in contemporary musical theater. Since my blog and podcast are nascent themselves, I thought that I would share that word with you today.

Nascent (ney-suhnt) is an adjective that means beginning to exist or to develop. So these nascent ‘voices’ are new voices, people who are not established in the contemporary musical arena. They are the new kids on the block.

Nascent could also refer to newly formed countries or governments, businesses or organizations, friendships and relationships. (If you told your girlfriend that your relationship with her was nascent, she might slap you on the face – if she doesn’t understand what nascent means!)

My blog and podcast are nascent, relatively new and haven’t been in existence for very long. You’ll notice that I have changed the design of my blog. I have also added a search feature in the right sidebar. If you remember a word that I have posted in my blog but can’t remember the definition, you can use the search bar to find it! Hope this helps.

Feel free to e-mail me to let me know what you think of these two changes. And as always, feel free to e-mail me to share a word or two – and I’ll be happy to put it in my blog. My e-mail address is:


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