A Blockhead By Any Other Name

Sometimes I think I need to learn Yiddish.  They have such delightful words.  Words that are fun to say.  Words that sound intriguing.  Words that have great meanings.  Words such as schmegeggy.

Schmegeggay [shmuh-GEG-ee] is a noun that means stupid person.  If someone is doing something that is brilliantly unintelligent, you can tell them to stop being a schmegeggy.  Or you could write on your blog about how schmegeggy your local politians are when they do something that proves they are not the brightest crayon in the box.

You’ve seen videos on YouTube of people doing stupid things?  Thinks like trying to jump from a rooftop onto a homemade trampoline and breaking through the trampoline and breaking their bones?  Or someone making homemade fireworks that end up exploding in their hands?  Schmegeggies, every one of them!  (By the way, here’s an observation.  Most of them are males.  Not too many females participate — or else not to many of them video themselves doing schmegeggy things and then post it to YouTube!!)

Schmegeggay also means nonsense.  “Stop all of this schmegeggay,” you might say to someone who is being silly or doing crazy things.  If someone suggests doing some derring do activity, you can refuse doing schmegeggy things. Call it self-preservation or preserving your dignity.  Whatever.  You don’t need to do schmegeggay things.

If someone from your high school years wants to ‘friend’ you on Facebook but really wasn’t your friend during those years, you might say, “Schmegeggay. I don’t need to friend you!”

Here’s hoping you lead a schmegeggay-free life!

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A Definition for My Husband

I’m sitting in my office (the sofa in our family room).  My husband is reading the Reader’s Digest and comes across a word he doesn’t know.  “What does nadir mean?”

Nadir.  Nadir.  Nadir. Mmmmm. . . The word bounces around my brain seeking a definition.  No definition reaches out to claim it.  I’m at a loss.  But I, the wordsmithie of the household, can’t admit that I don’t know the definition of a word.  That’s unthinkable.

Full of confidence I say, “It refers to a . . . a . . . a . . . point . . .”

My husband looks expectantly at me waiting for me to finish.

I quickly pull up dictionary.com on my laptop that is resting on my lap top.  (Funny thing!)  I try to be sneaky because I don’t want him to know that I had look up the definition.  That wouldn’t be cool.

“It’s the lowest or deepest point.”

He raises one eyebrow.  He knows.  He knows.  He knows that I looked it up online.  Sigh.

Nadir [ney-der] is a noun that means the lowest or deepest point; point of greatest adversity or despair.  I almost sink into a nadir of despair because I didn’t remember the definition of the word.  I knew it once.  I really did.  But I just couldn’t dust off the cobwebs from my synapses to bring the definition back into the daylight of my recall.  I hate it when that happens.

Someone could experience nadir when they lose a job, get a divorce, or go bankrupt. They could feel nadir of despair when something they really wanted to do falls through.  Or when they fail a college class.  Or when they go through chemotherapy but it doesn’t kill all of the cancer and they only have a few weeks left to live.

Eww, all of this is depressing.

But then, that’s what this word is all about.

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Speak a Little Louder Please

Travel with me back in time in Greek Mythology to the Trojan war. As a herald for the Greek, Stentor had a voice as powerful as fifty voices of other men.  (I wonder if he ever got hoarse from all of his powerful heralding . . .) He died after he was defeated by Hermes (who was a great messenger of the gods) in a shouting contest.

From this incident in mythology, we get the word stentorian.  From this little bit of background history, can you figure out what stentorian might mean?

If you guessed a meaning about loudness, you would be correct.  Stentorian [sten-tawr-ee-uhn] is an adjective that means very loud or powerful in sound. 

When I think of this word, I envision a white-haired gentleman, dressed in a blue business suit, speaking loudly and powerfully in front of an audience. And pounding on the podium to emphasize his words. The gentleman’s speaking is stentorian.

Other things could be stentorian besides voices.  An orchestra or a choir could be stentorian (powerful in sound) during a performance.  A spaceship blasting off could be stentorian to those in close proximity.  A cannon’s blast during a Civil War re-enactment is very stentorian — especially if you are standing right by it at the time it goes off.  (Voice of experience, here.)

If your children are running around the house and yelling at the tops of their lungs, request that they stop being stentorian.  They might become puzzled by this word and stop long enough to go to dictionary.com to look up the definition and cease being stentorian in the process!  I certainly would hope so . . .

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Are We in Kansas, Toto?

Growing up, The Wizard of Oz was my all-time favorite movie.  (But maybe that was because in those dark ages, there wasn’t much competition . . .)

So, when I came across the word in toto, what did my mind obviously flash back to?  Why of course, to the Wizard of Oz.  Of course.

In toto is an adjective and is pronounced the same as the dog’s name in The Wizard of Oz.  It means totally, entirely, completely, wholly. 

Do you know someone who is enamored with an actor or actress or a music band?  You could say that they are obsessed in toto about that person.

Or, you could say something like this: in toto, there are fifteen sophomores in the English class that Mr Smith teaches.  Or: the wife accepted the husband’s apology in toto.  Or: the supervisor accepted the recommendations in toto.

Now, your understanding of this word is in toto, right?

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Frugal By Any Other Name Is . . .

. . . . parsimonious.

Parsimonious [pahr-suh-moh-nee-uhs] is an adjective that means frugal, stingy, or miserly.

The Christmas season is upon us.  I know that it is only November 9 but radios play Christmas music (not the stations I listen too . .  .) and stores display Christmas decorations and TV commercials have holiday themes.

If you have children, this is the time of year that their wish list grows ginormous.  Taller than the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower.  And this is the time of year that parents eye their shrinking paychecks (if they are lucky enough to have one) in comparison to skyrocketing prices.  While parents want to give their children a good Christmas, they also want to keep their spending within a budget.  (Or at least I hope they do.)

Parents call this being frugal.  Parents are cautious spenders.  Gone are the days of impulse buying. They plan what to purchase and then stick to their plan.  They are the nicer side of parsimonious — meaning that they are frugal.  Which is good.

On the other hand, children (if their vocabulary is sufficiently large enough) call this parsimonious.  They think their parents are being stingy, cheap, miserly.  They think their parents are mean when they refuse to buy them all of the latest toys, video games, gadgets, or clothing.  Parents are not with it.  They are not cool.  They are fuddy duddies.  Their parents exhibit the ‘bad’ side of the word parsimonious.

I like the word parsimony because it sounds more elegant than words like cheap or stingy.  It has a certain ring to it, the sound of grandeur, of high society, of being a mover and a shaker.  At least it does to those who are vocabulary-challenged.

So the upcoming holiday season is a perfect opportunity to teach children a vocabulary word.  Teach them the ‘frugal’ part of parsimonious.  Teach them to think of others more than of themselves.  Teach them to give to the less fortunate so that THEY (your children) don’t grow up parsimonious!

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