charlie's blog

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

new words

It's taken longer than I hoped to get this one ready, but here's the latest list of new words.

Some of these came from Halting State by Charles Stross, which I recommend to anyone interested in geeky near-future science fiction. For this one, I had to use Urban Dictionary as much or more than my regular dictionaries, because the author used a lot of UK slang. I avoided putting a lot of these on the new words list, since I'm not very likely to use them, but I did include some of the most choice.

A smaller set of words came from I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter, which I can't recommend highly enough to anyone with an interest in cognitive science or personal identity. I plan to do an entire post about this one sometime soon.

Now for the words:

hokum -meaningless nonsense with the outward appearance of being impressive and legitimate
oppugn - to challenge or question the validity of a statement
obsequies - funeral rites
adduce - to cite or allege, to advance evidence for
proprioception - the ability to sense the position and movement of one's limbs
eminence grise - a secret or unofficial decision maker, "the power behind the throne"
teleological - showing evidence of design or purpose
zanana - the part of a house reserved for women, in some Asian countries such as India and Pakistan
sui generis - one of a kind, or in a class of one's own
recondite - incomprehensible or abstruse
bampot - an idiot or a foolish person (this is one of the Scottish words, but it's too good to leave out) 
emollient - a substance that softens or soothes the skin
wibble - to make meaningless comments; also a metasyntactic variable (see below)
gourmand - a connoisseur of fine food and drink
mustelid - a member of the weasel family (a good word for poking fun at someone without them understanding)
pants - rubbish (another another British-ism, see below)
caitiff - a cowardly and despicable person
mirabile dictu - wonderfully or amazingly, i.e. "it's a miracle!"
echt - genuine, not counterfeit
tonsorial - of or related to barbers or barbering
prevaricate - to evade the truth or be deliberately ambiguous
qiviut - the wool of the musk ox, great for Scrabble

This week's winner is 'wibble', a new (to me) metasyntactic variable from across the pond. I've already started to incorporate this into my lexicon of nonsense words for programming. The runner-up is 'pants', which featured in a recent news article from the BBC. I can't figure out exactly why, but this usage really tickles my funnybone. So, chalk up two wins for the Brits today.



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