Vilifying a Dotard

May is such a busy month for me . . . I’m not having the time that I would like to have to create a podcast. So, I’m just going to do a blog posting instead.

The first word for today is dotard. Dotard (doh-terd) is a noun that means a person, especially an old person, who exhibits a decline in mental faculties. Or a person who is weak-minded or foolish could be called a dotard.

If you called an elderly person a dotard, that person would probably have a difficult time remembering what they did a few days ago, might forget what you told them a few minutes ago, might have a difficult time balancing their checkbook because it’s too confusing. Calling them a dotard would be based on factual occurrences rather than just someone’s opinion.

If someone does something that you think is totally stupid and foolish, something that shows a lack of any thinking or reasoning ability, you could call the person a dotard. And it may be more your opinion of them than factual truth about their mental faculties.

Sometimes my children think I am a dotard. (Sometimes I think I’m a dotard . . .  (Atually I call myself a dough head and not a dotard.) If you happen to call someone a dotard, you possibly could be vilifying that person – if it was your opinion instead of factual truth.

The second word is vilify. Vilify (vil-uh-fahy) is a verb that means to speak ill of, defame, slander. If the person that you called a dotard really isn’t a dotard, that person could consider that you vilified them. That you defamed them. That you spoke unkindly about them and they might not look too kindly on your description!

And then, you should really do what my mother tried to teach her children – that if you couldn’t say something nice you shouldn’t say it at all. You might call that anti-vilify!

Singing or Caterwauling?

I am taking a beginning guitar class and am having great fun! Well, that is if you don’t count the fact that I had extremely sore fingers for the first two weeks and now I have ghastly looking callouses . . .

I knew that several folks in our office also played the guitar. So, I decided to organize a guitar fest, where we could strum, pluck, sing — or in my case caterwaul.

Singing isn’t one of my finer qualities. Sometimes it sounds more like caterwauling. Caterwaul (kat-er-wawl) is a verb that means to quarrel like cats. Wail, shriek, squawk, yowl, to utter long wailing cries, howl. (It also means to have a noisy argument.) By knowing this definition, you get the idea of how good of a singer I am . . . I don’t think I would ever win any grammy awards.

I’m recommending that no one bring tomatoes . . . .

Our family is going to Moab, Utah, to go 4-wheeling.  I won’t be posting anything until next Tuesday, May 29. Till then!

A Totally Useless Word . . . Probably . . .

Because of the busy day today, I will not be producing a podcast. Sorry! BUT — that doesn’t mean I don’t have a word for you today. I do. But I can’t think of any normal conversation where normal people who are talking about normal things would use this word. If somebody did use this word, it would probably be more for a laugh.

That word is omphaloskepsis (om-fuh-loh-skep-sis). Omphaloskepsis is a noun that means contemplation of one’s navel as an aid to meditation.

See what I mean? Just how many times does a person use her navel as an aid to meditation? And who would ever admit to using her belly button to meditate? Certainly not I!

Now, to give the word a fair shake, this word is also an idiom which usually means complacent self-absorption. This puts a little bit of a different twist to the word. You could use it to describe a person who what is very please with herself, with her merits, with her situation, with her personal qualities. It could also refer to a rather smug person.

If you use the word with the first definition, you might get a chuckle from others. If you use it with the second meaning, you might get punched in the nose by the person to whom you were referring!

Don’t Be Deleterious with the Environment!

This coming weekend, we are going Jeeping with family and friends in Moab, Utah. We enjoy the 4-wheel trails and the beautiful scenery there. We are very careful to go only on approved trails. We do not liter and take good care of the environment so we can continue enjoying the great out of doors in southern Utah. However, some people’s actions and behaviors are deleterious toward the environment.

Deleterious (del-i-teer-ee-uhs) is an adjective that means harmful or injurious. Doing anything to destroy the environment is deleterious – littering, driving off the trails, walking on the black, crustaceous lichens.

Sometimes people do not have healthy eating habits and that is deleterious to their health. People who drive recklessly or under the influence of alcohol are deleterious to the public. Parents worry that their kids will get in with a wrong crowd and that crowd of friends will have a deleterious influence on their children. So, anything that is harmful or destructive could be considered deleterious.

Back to going to Moab. We will be camping and our married children will be using some of their camping gear for the first time. They are quite excited. I’m hoping that the water in our campground will be potable.

Potable (poh-tuh-buh) is an adjective that means fit or suitable for drinking. Quite a few years ago, we were camping and the water in the campground was not potable. Several of us got sick. And, I was the sickest! I got giardia and was very sick for over a week. Diarrhea and nausea. Yuck! We didn’t think that we had to worry since we were in an established campground and the water was from the campground’s water system – and not from a stream.

Maybe we ought to take some water purifiers with us on this trip to guarantee we will have potable water. Giardia is not fun!!

Celerity — Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

I took my shoe to the repair shop to have the buckle fixed.  Today, three weeks later, I am finally able to pick it up.  It was not fixed with celerity.

Celerity (suh-ler-i-tee) is a noun that means speed, swiftness, or quickness.  The fellow repairing the buckle was not swift.  He was not speedy.  He was not quick.  It’s a good thing that I had another pair of shoes that I could wear while I was waiting to get my shoe back!

Do you know anybody who always seems to have a quick wit and can say an immediate response to things that others say?  Not me!  It seems that three days later I think of a reply to what I should have said.  That is NOT celerity of thinking.

My husband walks with great celerity.  His pace is brisk and quick.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to keep up with him.  However, he does not type with celerity.  He uses his two index fingers to hunt and peck.  It takes him a long time to type a simple, short e-mail message. He is rather maladroit at the keyboard.  (I’m just the opposite.  I type with GREAT celerity. At times, I have been tested to type over 100 words a minute!)

Maladroit (mal-uh-droit) is an adjective that means clumsy, unskillful, or awkward.  My husband is definitely unskilled at typing.  A neophyte carpenter can be maladroit with different tools until he learns how to use them.  When kids have a growth spurt, at times they may seem awkward and gangly and maladroit.  I felt very maladroit when I was first trying to learn how to ski.  I was extremely clumsy and awkward when I tried to walk with my skis on!

There’s another definition for maladroit and that is tactless or bungling.  When handling a crisis, an employer could be maladroit – or be tactless and mismanage and bungle the crisis.  If someone is rude and tactless, they are being maladroit.  I know a fellow who is always saying things that offend people.  He is very lacking in social skills!  Condoleezza Rice has great tact and diplomacy and is not maladroit during politically tense moments.  Which is good.  A Secretary of State should be VERY diplomatic!

Have a great week-end!

To the Rescue — from any Escutcheon!

I was reading a blog where the author mentioned he had to help a family member out with computer problems so that he could “protect the family escutcheon.” Escutcheon is a great word — but I’m wondering a wee bit if it was somewhat misused.

Escutcheon (i-skuhchuh-n) is a noun that has two meanings. The first is a shield or a shield-shaped emblem that bears a family coat of arms. So, did this fellow have to protect that shield? How can helping a family member with computer problems have anything to do with a shield with the family’s coat of arms? Maybe the blog author was referring to the second meaning.

The second meaning for escutcheon is a blot or stain on one’s reputation. A disgrace. This seems to make more sense. The family member was going to an Ivy League school and her computer crashed when she needed to send the year’s most important paper to a professor. So the blog author was trying to rescue the girl from failing a college class at a prestigious school — which could put a blot on the girl’s scholastic reputation. And, stain the family’s reputation, too.

If the author meant the second meaning, he should have instead said “protect the family FROM escutcheon.” He was supposed to help so the stain or the disgrace would not happen. Hopefully, with his help, the college student would be able to resurrect her computer and send the paper to the professor and thereby pass the course and all would be well.

He never did say if he was able to save the day. But, he hinted that all did not end well. And, if that was the case, maybe HE suffered an escutcheon on his reputation from the failed attempt at being a wizard with computers. Poor soul!

WordSmithie 23rd Podcast

The 23rd podcasting session for WordSmithie is now available. It covers the words modicum and dubious. Enjoy — and hopefully learn!