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Friday, August 29, 2008

He Read the Whole Damn Thing

Sesquicentennial - isn't that a delicious word? It means 150th.

Here are some others I'm enjoying lately:

Soliloquy - not an especially uncommon word, but I love the way it curls around your tongue and rolls off in a wave of soft vowel sounds.

Floccinaucinihilipilification - the longest real word in the OED. There are other long ones there but they are purported to have been made up to be the longest word in the dictionary.

Factitious - this means produced artificially or a sham

Ah I do love words. Which also brings me to this book:

Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages

In a task dubbed the "word-lover's Mount Everest", Ammon Shea not only read the OED in a year, he then wrote a book about it and, as heard in an interview, remembers many odd and wonderful words he read on that wild journey.

For all people who adore words, worship dictionaries and are sickly prone to reading lexicography (which would include myself), this book should prove a treasure in your library. I have not read it but I'm willing to bet that I'm right judging from the interview I heard of him. Check that out here: On Point: Reading the OED, if you want to hear it, click the "Listen to this Show" button. I highly recommend it.

Another book on the 'to read' list!


Irrelephant said...

I heard the same plug on NPR about a week ago! It's an excellent undertaking, not one I could endure but fun to read/hear about. My favourite of his favourite? "Petrichor." Here's the "A Word A Day" entry.

petrichor (PET-ri-kuhr) noun

The pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell.

[From petro- (rock), from Greek petros (stone) + ichor (the fluid that is supposed to flow in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology). Coined by researchers I.J. Bear and R.G. Thomas.]

"Petrichor, the name for the smell of rain on dry ground, is from oils given off by vegetation, absorbed onto neighboring surfaces, and released into the air after a first rain." Matthew Bettelheim; Nature's Laboratory; Shasta Parent (Mt Shasta, California); Jan 2002.

Maggie said...

Irrelephant, while that word seems almost ordinary in sound, the meaning is so lovely. This is what makes me thrill about words, they are so varied and fascinating in sound and meaning.

meno said...

irrelephant is so cool. I love that smell.

Irrelephant said...

I feel the same fascination about words and their secret meanings. Finding words like that is like turning over rocks and finding gold beetles. *S* And meno, I didn't invent it, I just passed it along! But oh gods yes that smell. Better than fresh-mown grass any day, and awfully close to the smells you get at a feed store or in a new hayfield.