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A Word for the Day

Started by Recusant, November 08, 2015, 08:20:40 AM

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The original thread appears to be missing at the moment.

snollygoster noun \ˈsnälēˌgästə(r)\ (etymology uncertain, though The Word Detective has a possible derivation from German: schnelle fast + geister spirits-- snallygaster, a mythical monster said, among residents of Maryland, to attack and eat livestock as well as the occasional child)

: a clever, unscrupulous person, most especially a politician

Quote...Truman sent reporters scurrying for their dictionaries when he denounced Republican "snollygosters." He turned to the puzzled press corps, chewing their pencils at trainside, and quipped, "Better look that word up, it's a good one." Later in the speech he suggested, "I wish some of these snollygosters would read the New Testament and perform accordingly." Short explained that the word meant "a pretentious, swaggering, prattling fellow."

-- Ken Hechler, Working with Truman: A Personal Memoir of the White House Years (1982)

QuoteA snollygoster is a fellow who wants office, regardless of party, platform or principles, and who, whenever he wins, gets there by the sheer force of monumental talknophical assumnacy.

-- Editor, Columbus Dispatch (1895)

I came up with my own definitions for those last two words, since I was unable to find them defined elsewhere.

talknophical adjective 1. Slick and devious use of rhetoric. 2. Deliberate obscurantism using grand philosophical (or pseudo-philosphical) terms and/or concepts intended to overwhelm the listener and leave them thinking that the speaker knows what he's talking about.

assumnacy noun (assume + lunacy) The propagation of lunatic ideas as if they are commonplace and unquestionable.

by Galago Agouti-Rex

Edited to revive image link. - R
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


I know that "snollygoster" was in the missing thread; I wanted a sort of bridge to this new version.

cozen verb \ˈkə-zən\ (Of uncertain origin; perhaps from French cousiner "cheat on pretext of being a cousin;" or from Middle English cosyn "fraud, trickery" [mid-15c.], which is perhaps related to Old French coçon "dealer, merchant, trader," from Latin cocionem "horse dealer." Webster's says perhaps from obsolete Italian cozzonare, from Italian cozzone horse trader, from Latin cocion-, cocio trader. The Oxford English Dictionary, on the other hand, says the earliest trace of the word appears to be in the derivative cousoner in J. Awdelay's Fraternitye of Vacabondes, 1561; it is not improbable that it arose among the vagabond class. It has generally been associated with cousin n., and compared with French cousiner , explained by Cotgrave, 1611, as 'to clayme kindred for aduantage, or particular ends; as he, who to saue charges in trauelling, goes from house to house, as cosin to the owner of euerie one', by Littré as 'faire le parasite sous prétexte de cousinage'.)

1 :  to deceive, win over, or induce to do something by artful coaxing and wheedling or shrewd trickery

2 :  to gain by cozening someone

coz·en·er noun

Below is a comparison of two prominent Royalists active in the English Civil Wars, by somebody who was a participant himself.

QuoteGoring, who was now general of the horse, was no more gracious to prince Rupert, than Wilmot had been; and had all the other's faults, and wanted his regularity, and preserving his respect with the officers. Wilmot loved debauchery, but shut it out from his business; never neglected that, and rarely miscarried in it. Goring had a much better understanding, and a sharper wit, (except in the very exercise of debauchery, and then the other was inspired,) a much keener courage, and presentness of mind in danger: Wilmot discerned it farther off, and because he could not behave himself so well in it, commonly prevented, or warily declined it; and never drank when he was within distance of an enemy: Goring was not able to resist the temptation, when he was in the middle of them, nor would decline it to obtain a victory; and in one of those fits, he had suffered the horse to escape out of Cornwall; and the most signal misfortunes of his life in war had their rise from that uncontrollable license. Neither of them valued their promises, professions, or friendships, according to any rules of honour or integrity; but Wilmot violated them the less willingly, and never but for some great benefit or convenience to himself; Goring without scruple, out of humour, or for wit's sake; and loved no man so well, but that he would cozen him, and then expose him to public mirth for having been cozened: therefore he had always fewer friends than the other, but more company; for no man had a with that pleased the company better. The ambition of both was unlimited, ans so equally incapable of being contented; and both unrestrained, by any respect to good-nature or justice, from pursuing the satisfaction thereof: yet Wilmot had more scruples from religion to startle him, and would not have attained his end by any gross or foul act of wickedness: Goring could have passed those pleasantly, and would, without hesitation, have broken any trust, or done any act of treachery, to have satisfied an ordinary passion or appetite; and, in truth, wanted nothing but industry (for he had wit, and courage, and understanding, and ambition, uncontrolled by any fear of God or man) to have been as eminent and successful in the highest attempt in wickedness of any man in the age he lived in, or before. Of all his qualifications, dissimulation was his masterpiece; in which he so much excelled, that men were not ordinarily ashamed, or out of countenance, with being deceived but twice by him.

-- Edward Hyde, 1st earl of Clarendon, The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England (1704)

Goring and Wilmot

Edited to revive image link. - R

"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


The word; cozen and its derivation is ample demonstration that a word can have many meanings, spellings, or implications.  That is why it is an absurdity to believe that the KJV and other books of its kind are the inerrant words of god.  Incredibly, there are some very well educated people out there who choose to ignore this kind of reality.  Not surprisingly, some of those people are aspirants to presidential candidacy.  Sheeesh!

Bart Ehrman does a persuasive, hour long, lecture about this sort of thing. The lecture is floating around in YouTube somewhere. 


I like snollygoster. That one will be squeeeezed into a few conversations. Thank you Recusant.

"Amazing what chimney sweeping can teach us, no? Keep your fire hot and
your flue clean."  - Ecurb Noselrub

"I'd be incensed by your impudence were I not so impressed by your memory." - Siz


From Wiktionary:

From Dr. Pangloss, a character in Voltaire's Candide.

(pejorative) Naively or unreasonably optimistic.
(pejorative) Of or relating to the view that this is the best of all possible worlds.
I am what survives if it's slain - Zack Hemsey


I am what survives if it's slain - Zack Hemsey


Nice words there, but nobody's going to be offended if you call them one of those - they'd probably assume such a posh sound has to be a compliment!


Agreed, that's a fine list. I only knew two of them already: "flagitious," and "quidnunc." I wonder about "ructabunde" though, since the Oxford English Dictionary has no entry for it. "Morosoph" is just "sophomore" wearing its hat backwards--maybe the weakest on the list.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


That is a fine glossary of pedantic speech elements.  I liked fissilingual which is descriptive of our current crop of political operatives. It is also a similar meaning for our native American Indians who used a term to describe the lying, invader, bastards, whose goal was to steal their land.: He speaks with a forked tongue.


objurgation noun \ˌäb-jər-ˈgā-shən\ (Middle English objurgacyon, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French objurgation, from Latin objurgation-, objurgatio, from objurgare to scold, blame, from ob- against + jurgare to quarrel, literally, to take to law, from jur-, jus law + -igare [from agere to lead])

: a harsh rebuke

ob·jur·gate verb

ob·jur·ga·to·ry adjective

Despite the objurgations (and worse) of the Catholic church, the Protestant Reformation brought lasting change not only to Christianity, but western society as a whole.

The spot in Oxford where Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury was burnt at the stake (and before him the bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley) is marked by an "X," or a cross if you will, in cobblestones in the middle of Broad Street.

Edited to revive image links. - R
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


labile adjective \ˈlā-ˌbī(-ə)l, -bəl\ (French, from Middle French, prone to err, from Late Latin labilis, from Latin labi to slip)

1 :  readily or continually undergoing chemical, physical, or biological change or breakdown :  unstable

2 :  readily open to change

la·bil·i·ty noun

QuoteThere are two features of moral cognition requiring explanation: belief in particular moral norms, and the fundamental belief that there is a normative moral reality at all. The dominant sociobiological and evolutionary psychological approach focuses on the former. It views moral norms as "epigenetic rules" that may not be fully reducible to but do emerge from genetic proclivities to adaptive behaviors: for example, incest avoidance, parental care, and repaying cooperative investments. But if these behaviors have adaptive value and we are genetically disposed to them, then why have moral norms? A common answer is that since human behavior is labile—which is itself an adaptation, but an adaptation that if unconstrained can result in disbenefits—we need "back-up mechanisms" to restrict the range of behaviors. Parents do desert or abuse their children, incest does occur, and sex and close contact with corpses do occur. Our innate repugnancies may not always be effectively constraining. In the film Lawrence of Arabia, an American reporter extols the virtues of Lawrence to Prince Faisal: "Prince, Lawrence is so merciful!" The Prince replies: "For Major Lawrence, mercy is a passion; for me, mercy is a convention. Judge for yourself which is the more reliable of the two." By the end of the movie, Lawrence is shouting, "Take no prisoners!"

— Jeffrey P. Schloss, "Darwinian Explanations of Morality: Accounting for the Normal but Not the Normative" (PDF) in Understanding Moral Sentiments: Darwinian Perspectives? (2014)

Bonus words:

epigenetic adjective \ˌe-pə-jə-ˈne-tik\ (Greek epi upon + génesis generation)

1 Biology :  relating to or arising from non-genetic influences on gene expression

2 Geology : formed later than the surrounding or underlying rock formation

normative adjective \ˈnȯr-mə-tiv\ (French normatif, from norme norm, from Latin norma)

1 :  of, relating to, or determining norms or standards

2 :  conforming to or based on norms

3 :  prescribing norms

nor·ma·tive·ly adverb

nor·ma·tive·ness noun

Edited to revive image link. - R

"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


I am what survives if it's slain - Zack Hemsey


gallimaufry noun \ˌga-lə-ˈmȯ-frē\ (Mid 16th century: from archaic French galimafrée 'unappetizing dish', perhaps from Old French galer 'have fun' + Picard mafrer 'eat copious quantities'.)

: a confused jumble or medley of things

The opening paragraph of Thomas Shelton's 1620 translation of Miguel Cervantes' great work, The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha:

QuoteThere lived not long since, in a certain village of the Mancha, the name of whereof I porposely omit, a gentleman of their calling that use to pile up in their halls old lances, halberds, morions, and such other armours and weapons. He was, besides, master of an ancient target, a lean stallion, and a swift greyhound. His pot consisted daily of somewhat more beef than mutton: a gallimaufry each night, collops and eggs on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and now and then a lean pigeon on Sundays, did consume three parts of his rents; the rest and remnant thereof was spent on a jerkin of fine puce, a pair of velvet hose, with pantofles of the same for the holy-days, and one suit of the finest vesture; for therewithal he honoured and set out his person on the workdays. He had in his house a woman-servant of about forty years old, and a niece not yet twenty, and a man that served him both in field and at home, and could saddle his horse, and likewise manage a pruning-hook. The master himself was about fifty years old, of a strong complexion, dry flesh, and a withered face. He was an early riser, and a great friend of hunting. Some affirm that his surname was Quixada, or Quesada (for in this there is some variance among the authors that write his life), although it may be gathered, by very probable conjectures, that he was called Quixana. Yet all this concerns our historical relation but little: let it then suffice, that in the narration thereof we will not vary a jot from the truth.

Don Quixote
by Pablo Picasso

Bonus word:

morion noun \ˈmȯr-ē-ˌän\ ([from Oxford English Dictionary] Middle French morion light helmet  and its etymon Spanish morrión, murrón probably from morra crown of the head [perhaps ultimately the same Romance base as moraine mound, ridge])

: a crested metal helmet with a curved peak in front and back, worn by soldiers in the 16th and 17th centuries

Spanish morion

Edited to revive image link. - R
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


I like words that sound grand but . . .


Dionysus Exiguus sounds pretty posh but actually means, "Dennis the Humble", or could be "Dennis the Short"

Denis was a Scythian monk in the 5th-6thC whose main claim to fame was the coining of "Anno Domini" (not the yearly Italian domino tournament, that came later.)
Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.
Passed Monday 10th Dec 2018 age 74



Sounds nice, like a spice, like cinnamon maybe.

In powder form it also looks gorgeous, a rich scarlet or red, just right for an outrageous lipstick. But that could be a deadly use, cinnabar is toxic, a form of mercury oxide.
Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.
Passed Monday 10th Dec 2018 age 74