Don’t Let Me Thimble-Rig You!

Today my thoughts return to the list of new words that I came across in The Mayor of Castorbridge by Thomas Hardy.  They have been patiently waiting in my little red spiral Mead notebook.  Waiting for me to retrieve that notebook from the dark pocket of my purse.  Waiting for me to flip open the notebook cover.  Waiting for me to search for them in the dictionary.

Wait no more, I mentally call out to them.  Today is the day that three of you will be brought out into the light of day, inspected, judged, and profiled on my blog.  Wait no more!

The first word on my list is furmity.  Furmity is hulled wheat boiled in milk and flavored with sugar and spices.  My twenty-first century palate that is accustomed to dining on sugar-coated cereal almost retches at the thought of partaking of furmity.   Boiled wheat?  I don’t think so.  And, I seriously doubt that I would be able to find a way to use furmity in normal conversation.  (“Hello.  Nice weather we’re having.  Have you eaten any furmity lately?”)  Strike one.  On to the next word on my list.

Thimble-rigger.  The definition in the Oxford English Dictionary states: a professional sharper who cheats by thimblerigging.  That doesn’t tell me much.  What is a sharper??   What is thimblerigging?  Off I go again to my friend, good ol’ OED (Oxford English Dictionary).

A sharper is a cheat, swindler, rogue, or fraudulent gamester.  Someone who lives by his wits by taking advantage of the simplicity of others.  Thimblerig means to cheat in a juggling manner or as with a sleight of hand.  How often do I come across someone who swindles or cheats people through juggling or through some sleight of hand trickery?  How often would I use this in common conversation?  Or even uncommon conversation? (“The generailized contiunuum hypothesis states that we have two sets S and T that have the same cardinality if there exists a bijection.  By the way, watch out for Jones over there.  He’s a thimble-rigger.”)  Methinks this is strike two.

I’m finally rewarded with the next word.  Invidious.  Invidious (in-vid-ee-uhs) is an adjective that means to create ill will or resentment or to give offense. It means to cause animosity, resentment, envy, or hate.  It also means offensively or unfairly discriminating or injurious.

If someone intentionally said something that was offensive, that person and that remark are invidious.  If a newspaper article was written to stir up hateful emotions, animosity, or resentment, that article is invidious.  (After all, isn’t invidiousness the sole purpose of newspaper journalism today?  Especially when reporting about politics?)  If someone does something that unfairly discriminates against others or is injurious to others, that action would be invidious.  Jealous husbands sometimes say invidious remarks about their wives.  Some people’s attitude, comments, and actions about the United State’s problem with illegal aliens are very invidious!

Finally!  A word I can use in my conversation!  Invidious.  I think I’ll stop while I am ahead!

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2 Responses to “Don’t Let Me Thimble-Rig You!”

  1. Julianne Says:

    Dearest Auntie Wordsmithie –
    I have enjoyed reading your blog and I am sorry it has taken me so long to arrive at this spot. I have some comment to make on the word “invidious.” First, it seems rather like one of my favorite words “insidious.” In fact, so alike that I may begin to mix them up in my daily conversation, which may serve as a detriment to my general communication. However, I did notice that as you were detailing the definition, two out of the three definitions were in the form of an infinitive verb rather than in the form of something that would describe a person, place or thing. Your definition of the word is: “to create ill will or resentment or to give offense. . . to cause animosity, resentment, envy, or hate.” This caused some momentary confusion for me and I thought perhaps to point it out, with the best intentions imaginable, so that further confusion and alarm might be avoided if at all possible. Please believe, I mean no ill will.
    I think both you and your blog are a delight. Keep up the good work.

  2. wordsmithie Says:

    Infinitive verbs? Do I know what they are??? It seems that back in 900 BC, I learned about infinitive verbs. But that was so long ago and so many cobwebs have replaced the synapses in my brain. Tsk, tsk, tsk. I apologize for the confusion. I’ll try to do better next time. Maybe . . . .


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