Definition: A misunderstood or misinterpreted word or phrase resulting from mishearing the lyrics of a song. The word, ‘mondegreen’ was coined in the 1950s. Writer, Sylvia Wright, described listening to her mother read old poems to her when she was a child. One had the line ‘…and laid him on the green’, which she misheard [...]
Definition: A person of wide knowledge or learning. The word comes from ‘polumathes’—a 17th-century Greek word that means ‘having learned much’. Polymaths are usually associated with the explosion of art, creativity and critical thinking that happened during the Renaissance. One example was Leonardo da Vinci—a great painter, sculptor, cartographer and writer, who may have invented [...]
Definition: Smelling like bugs. (Or, the actual noun for bug secretions…) Cimicine is one of those wonderfully specific descriptive words that lends itself well to erudite-sounding insults. The pie was cold, and the salad was warm. The meal was served with a weak, cimicine cocktail, which made me wish I’d kept my 16 dollars and [...]
Definition: A vitamin found in citrus fruits and green vegetables. Ascorbic acid is essential for healthy connective tissue. A severe deficiency results in scurvy. Scurvy causes lethargy, bruising, bleeding gums, swollen legs and (if untreated) death. People would get it on long sea voyages. An old word from mediaeval Latin—scorbutic—means ‘affected by scurvy’ or ‘of [...]
Definition: A period of paid leave granted to a university teacher for study or travel, traditionally 1 year for every 7 years worked. Of or pertaining to the Sabbath (archaic). So we’ve been pretty quiet lately. It’s because we were on sabbatical. Yep, I’ve used more sick leave this month than I have used in 7 years. (Sabbaticals [...]
Definition: Act obstructively in a legislative assembly (Parliament), especially by speaking at inordinate length. Stuff I find interesting (even if no one else does): Australian parliamentary rules mean that a filibuster is difficult to pull off here filibusters don’t breach any technical rules—they’re just very inconvenient. Use in a sentence: He is a filibustering windbag.
Definition: Composure or coolness shown in danger or under trying circumstances. Sometimes spelled ‘sang-froid’. In French, it literally means ‘cold blood’—English borrowed the word in the 18th century. I think I first read this word in The Three Musketeers—about a 4th musketeer who enjoyed fighting duels (no doubt with a lot of sangfroid) and falling [...]
Definition: Petty and underhanded legal wrangling. Pettifoggery.
Barry, the antithalian Australian, after a day spent scowling at cooing babies...
Definition: a hatred of reason. A distrust of logical debate. Going far beyond plain old cognitive dissonance—the holding of conflicting viewpoints—misology seems to be quite popular.