an example of writing or speech consisting of or containing meaningless words.
Jabberwocky, “speech consisting of or containing meaningless words,” is a derivative of the name Jabberwock, a monster generally depicted as a dragon in a nonsense poem in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass (1871). Concerning the etymology of Jabberwocky, Carroll himself wrote in a letter to students at Girls’ Latin School in Boston, Massachusetts (now Boston Latin Academy), “The Anglo-Saxon word wocer or wocor signifies ‘offspring or fruit.’ Taking jabber in its ordinary acceptation of ‘excited and voluble discussion,’ this would give the meaning of ‘the result of much excited and voluble discussion.’”
his face melts into a mask of sadness and despair, then sparkles with wit as he tells in a stream of jabberwocky the loopy story of a fop named Pongo Twistleton …
Of course all the White House’s latest jabberwocky about “benchmarks” and “milestones” and “timetables'”… is nothing more than an election-year P.R. strategy …
former; of times past: erstwhile friends.
Erstwhile is a compound of the Middle English adjective and adverb erest “first in time, rank, order, excellence, etc.,” from the similar Old English adjective and adverb ǣrest “first, at first.” (The –est ending indicates that Old English ǣrest is the superlative degree of ǣr “early,” which functions as an adjective, adverb, preposition, and conjunction.) While comes from the Old English noun hwīl “a space of time, a while, an indefinite space of time,” which in Middle English develops senses as an adverb and conjunction. Erstwhile as an adverb entered English in the second half of the 16th century, and as an adjective, in the early 20th.
Many of Biden’s erstwhile opponents have found roles for themselves.
When the the 75-year-old ruler … refused to step down, some of his erstwhile allies from the military and security forces pushed him out.
constant or close application or effort; diligence; industry.
Assiduity ultimately comes from the Latin noun assiduitās (inflectional stem assiduitāt-) “constant presence or attendance, constant practice,” a derivative of the adjective assiduus “settled, continued, persistent.” Assiduus derives from the compound verb assidēre “to sit near, sit next to, pay attention to,” formed from the preposition and prefix ad, ad– “to, at, near” and the simple verb sedēre “to sit.” The semantics of sitting and therefore paying close attention fits perfectly with the German noun Sitzfleisch (borrowed into English in the 19th century), which means “the buttocks, (literally) sit-flesh,” and by extension, the ability to sit for a long period of time and persevere in an activity. Assiduity entered English in the early 17th century.
“I really believe in working with youth, and particularly this age group — middle school — with respect and kindness and patience,” Palla said. It’s an approach that takes assiduity, especially considering the volume of students that Cook and Palla oversee.
These disloyal thoughts came seldom, and she put them resolutely away, devoting herself with all the greater assiduity to her muslin curtains and ruffled pillow-shams.
biographical data, personal reminiscences, or the like: He could never keep the personalia out of his essays.
Personalia is a noun use of the neuter plural form of the Latin adjective persōnālis “personal.” Persōnālis is not very common in Latin, being restricted to the law, as in beneficium persōnāle “personal benefit,” and grammar, as in verbum persōnāle “personal verb” (that is, a verb with three persons in both numbers). The modern English sense of personalia is a New Latin sense that first appeared in the 19th century.
Simply for its pictures of that old life, for its vivid anecdote, for its riches of personalia, and for its manly tone, the narrative is readable and delightful to a wonderful degree.
But if the show is a bit hard to read (which is which?), the lavish catalog is a pleasure. With texts for each plate slyly sending up our fascination with personality and personalia, it is as engrossing as any new fiction.
an immediate estimate or judgment; understanding; insight.
Aperçu, “a hasty glance or glimpse; an insight; an outline or summary,” is not at all naturalized in English, even retaining its French spelling (the cedilla under the c). Aperçu is the past participle of the verb apercevoir “to perceive, see, catch sight of,” a compound of the prefix a– (from Latin ad– “to,” here indicating direction or tendency) and the Old French verb perçoivre (Middle French, French percevoir), from Latin percipere “to obtain, seize, gather (crops), collect (taxes).” Percipere is a compound verb composed of the preposition and prefix per, per– “through,” here with an intensive meaning, and the simple verb capere “to take, take hold of, seize, capture.” Aperçu entered English in the first half of the 19th century.
I once heard an author of young adult fiction being asked what her novel was about, and instead of explaining its adventure plot or sophisticated science- fiction premise, she said: “Kissing”. This was clearly self-deprecation, but it was also an aperçu about the pleasure that draws readers to a huge array of books ….
Kottke has been an engaging, likable omnipresence on the scene for as long as it has existed, serving up a daily blend of clean-crafted personal aperçus and fresh, literate links to tech, pop, and political news that is as brisk and cozy as Folgers in your cup.
willing to believe or trust too readily, especially without proper or adequate evidence; gullible.
Credulous comes from the Latin adjective crēdulus “inclined to believe or trust, trustful, credulous, rash.” The first part of crēdulus comes from the verb crēdere “to believe, trust, entrust,” most likely a compound of Proto-Indo-European kerd-, kred- (and other variants) “heart” and -dere, a combining form meaning “to put, place,” from the root dhē-, dhō-, with the same meaning. Latin crēdere “to place my heart” is a very ancient religious term that has an exact correspondence with Sanskrit śrad-dadhāti “he trusts,” and Old Irish cretim “I trust.” The second part of crēdulus is the diminutive noun and adjective suffix –ulus, which frequently has a pejorative sense, as in rēgulus “petty king, chieftain.” Credulous entered English in the mid-16th century.
When the British news network aired a three-minute segment about Swiss spaghetti farmers plucking long strands of pasta straight from tree branches, hundreds of credulous viewers wrote in asking how they could cultivate their own spaghetti tree.
I did not believe half of what she told me: I pretended to laugh at it all; but I was far more credulous than I myself supposed.
causing or tending to cause happiness.
The adjective felicific “tending to cause happiness,” is a term used in ethics, a branch of philosophy. The word is formed from the Latin adjective fēlix (stem fēlīci-) “happy, lucky” and the English combining form -fic “making, producing,” from Latin -ficus. Felicific entered English in the 19th century.
Bentham was advancing his felicific calculus (though without much actual mathematics to back it up) as the scientific solution to the problems of morality and legislation.
The problem is that as more humans run their felicific calculations and decide to live in pleasant places, their presence changes the balance.