Sunday, April 16, 2006

worthless words

Messing about with thesaurus and dictionary.

Lets start with some definitions.
Herpetology – thought this was just snakes but it is the study of reptiles and amphibians
Ophiology – this one is purely about snakes from the Greek “ophis” serpent.
Conchology – Not the study of shells as the name might suggest but instead gives us the lure of molluscs.
Malacology – Just like conchology, this is the study of molluscs. Not sure if there is a boundary between the conchologists and the malacologists.
Mycology – is this the study of me, the fungi? Everything you wanted to know about mushrooms. From Greek ‘myc’ fungus.
Gallinaceous – related to the study of domestic fowl.
Ophidian – the snaky one, ask the ophiologist.
Salientine – of frogs and toads, batrachian, anuran, aquiline, passerine
Vermicular – wormy, like vermicelli – the little worm.
Cervine is dearly deer-like.
Gallimawfry – a hodge-podge or a US hash dish made from leftovers.
Galligaskies – are 16th century hose or breeches (a metathetic variation on gregesque from Italian ‘all greghesa’ in the Greek manner.
Unlike the Irish Gallowglass (‘gall’ foreigner and ‘oglach’ volunteer).
Metathesis, by the way is a transposition of letters, syllables and sounds in a word. Cupid Stunts.
Polo is a Balti (Kashmiri) word. From the fierce Pathans (patented obviously, are there any other kind of Pathans?). A pollywog is a tadpole. A poltroon is a coward from the Italian ‘poltro’ lazy. Craven A. Panda is Nepalese but Pandanus is Malay. Pandemonium is Milton’s capital of Hell. Pon Demon Lum. Zeus gave Pandora a box containing all humanity’s ills.

Partridge (pardix Gr.) is a gallinaceous gamebird. Parturient is in labour, passerine is an order of perching birds. More than half of all birds are in this category (qv Pale Fire). Latin ‘passerinus’ of a sparrow. Sparrowgrass is colloquial asparagus. The sparrow itself is pugnacious, a weaverbird, a finch, a pest. An Icelandic “sporr”.

A spat is a quarrel is an old spit is a gaiter is an oyster-spawn. A gaiter is a covering for ankle and instep worn over the shoe. Good-King-Henry is an erect perennial herb. A veronica is the “face of Christ” or a speedwell (sundarium) or a matador’s pass swinging the cape in front of the bull while immobile.

Sodarium is a handkerchief unlike a sudatorium which is a hot-air bath of inducing sweating. Turdine pertains to thrushes not shit though a ‘turd strangler’ is a plumber. A psalterium is the omasum or manyplies (because the folds of the omasum are likened to the leaves of a book). The omasum is the third stomach of a ruminant hidden between the reticulum and the abomasum (the fourth or true stomach).

The psalter is a book containing psalms for liturgical or devotional use. Maraschino is a cherry liqueur with almond flavour from 'marasca' an Italian word for the European cherry tree. Sodom was an ancient Dead Sea city destroyed by fire from heaven because of its inhabitants’ wickedness.

Ganymede is a Jovian moon (the largest moon in the solar system), and is also a young waiter or a young male homosexual – a catamite. Ganymede himself was a Trojan youth carried off by Zeus to be his lover and ‘cupbearer’. Crossruff is a bridge play in which each hand of the partnership trumps a different suit.

A cumshaw is a tip in Chinese ports. Cupboard love is inspired by considerations of material gain. The curate’s egg is good in parts. Erysipelas is an infectious disease of the mucous membranes. Erubescent is blushing. Ohmigod. Yahweh, Elohim, Tetragrammaton. Krishna. Deva. Bel Marduk. Red Tezcatlipoca. Quetzalcoatl. Huitzilopochtli.

Theriomorphic means having the form of beasts. Gentlemen can be Hidalgos (low) and Caballeros (high). Callithempians have vague religious belief. Boyars are Prussian gentry and Junkers are Russian aristocracy. Gossypol is a pigment of cottonseed oil and an experiment in male contraception.

Walpurgisnacht (Mayday eve night of German witches and the feastday of St Walpurga) is missing between walnut (foreign nut) and walrus (the horse whale). Buffleheads are ducks, duxes are leaders. Keel is a fatal disease of domestic ducks as well as a quantity of coal or a ship’s supporting beam or a ship itself or a ridge or a red ochre used to mark sheep.

Jays, joints, currawongs and cuckoo-shrikes, white-winged cloughs, corvine (crow-like) cinnabar (mercuric sulphide). Dingo ate my Babylon. The cordon bleu is a sky blue ribbon worn as a badge by the highest order French Bourbon knights, somehow transferred to cookery. Dubbo is stupid, just ask Patrick White in ‘Riders in the Chariot’. Splice the mainbrace means to issue a tot of rum to a ships crew or to invite an assembly to have a drink of quodlibet (‘what pleases’).

What pleases for a complex problem which arises in the study of philosophy or theology, or that of harridans, hags and harpies?

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