Good afternoon, dear readers. I’ve been looking at the word prompts for today, plus I read an interesting article at Pocket, now I’ll try to gather all the thoughtlets that are bouncing around.
First, I must thank Fandango for his FOWC prompt today, which is ARCANE. I thought I understood this word, but decided I’d check in the dictionary and be certain. And I was SO WRONG! Somehow I’ve gotten this word confused with INANE.
Sue’s JibberJabber prompt for today is CHANGE and I’ve had to completely change my thinking after this little visit to the dictionary. I’ll know better now if I happen to read in a story: “After making an arcane remark in answer to his question, his assistant left the room.”
How I’ve misjudged the poor person! I always thought they’d said something stupid or sarcastic.
According to Lexico, ARCANE means
Understood by few; mysterious or secret.
synonyms: obscure, deep, profound
Lacking sense or meaning; silly
synonyms: empty, insubstantial
ASININE, going even further, means:
Extremely stupid or foolish
synonyms: silly, brainless, nonsensical
The Your Daily Word prompt for today is PLETHORA, so I’ll tack this all together for a bit of linguistic history.
Owing to its tendency to gather words from all nations, the English language has a plethora of words that mean, or sound, almost the same — synonyms, we call them. Check out any thesaurus and you’ll see dozens of synonyms for some words, especially slang expressions. I counted 48 shorter variations of “drunk” and a few longer ones like “in his cups.”
Quite a few dictionary words are archaic, or regional and thus arcane — do you know what a SCOP is? — while most are widely known to English speakers across the globe. Some words have shifted, like HAGGARD, which meant wild or untamed, but has shifted over time and is now understood as “having a gaunt, worn appearance.”
Over the centuries the Bible has had a profound effect on English, giving us the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, along with many other expressions and lines. And poets have enriched the language with expressions that became part of everyday vocabulary.
Like Bobby Burns, with “the best laid plans of mice and man go oft astray…” Even though he wrote his “Ode To A Mouse” in 1785, I still see these words in articles today. Charles Dickens gave us Scrooge, who will forever represent the quintessential miser.
Sitcoms and stand-up comedians have added a lot of witty and/or inane wisecracks, like “He’s quite fond of John Barleycorn,” and “The elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor,” and punch lines like “Been there; done that.”
Now for a thought on FERVOR, which I gleaned a few hours ago from an article at POCKET. Here’s a list of six “weak verbs” we should use sparingly in our speech. Using these expressions make us sound INDECISIVE.* Something to consider.
*Synonyms: ambivalent, conflicted, doubtful, dithering,
faltering, skeptical, wishy-washy, uncertain, wavering
And now I guess…oops!…I…er…definitely WILL go and do something else. 😉