What People Are
the transposition of initial or other sounds of words, usually by accident, as in a blushing crow for a crushing blow.
Spoonerisms, often hilarious, are named after the 19th-century Anglican clergyman William Archibald Spooner, warden of New College, Oxford University. The Reverend Spooner himself claimed as his only spoonerism “The Kinquering Congs Their Titles Take” (1879), a mangling of the name of the hymn “The Conquering Kings Their Titles Take.” In American English the most famous spoonerism must be the one made by the old-time radio announcer Harry von Zell, who in a live broadcast in 1931 announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Hoobert Heever.” Spoonerism entered English about 1900.
Spoonerisms are the comfortable shoes of slips of the tongue: when it comes time to illustrate the universality speech errors, they’re so familiar and broken in, they always get a laugh.
Other words the BFG coins are from errors. For example, in spoonerisms snapperwhipper, dory-hunky and catasterous disastrophe, the initial syllables have been swapped.
verb (used with object)
to eat quickly and voraciously; scarf (often followed by down or up).
Snarf, “to eat greedily or voraciously,” is a slang word, originally American, and like many if not most slang terms, it has an obscure etymology. Some authorities claim snarf to be a variant of scarf “to eat greedily,” or a combination of the verbs snort and scarf. Snarf is just as likely to be onomatopoeic, as of the sound of pigs feeding at a trough. Snarf entered English in the late 1960s.
“My kids snarf these like candy,” he said.
We don’t just snarf down the Hershey bars and gummy bears directly from the bag. We pour ourselves a glass of wine as well ….
a good deed or favor; an instance of kindness: benignities born of selfless devotion.
Benignity comes via Old and Middle French from the Latin noun benignitās (inflectional stem benignitāt-) “kindness, graciousness, friendliness,” a derivative of the adjective benignus “kind, gracious, benign.” Benignus is composed of the adverb bene “well, neatly, rightly” (from the adjective bonus “good”) and –gnus, a suffix derived from the base of the verb gignere “to beget” (the sense is “good by nature, naturally good”; consider its English opposite, malign). Benignity entered English in the second half of the 14th century.
… there are young men and maidens pacing to and fro beside me, and to them the moon is only one of the innumerable benignities with which nature smiles on youth and love.
with a thousand generous benignities she stifled my ‘no’s,’ … and all I had breath to say at last, was, that ‘there was time enough for plans of that kind.’
of or relating to existence: Does climate change pose an existential threat to humanity?
Existential comes from Late Latin existentiālis “relating to existence,” an adjective form of ex(s)istentia “existence, state of existing, something that exists.” Ex(s)istentia is in turn based on classical Latin ex(s)istere “to exist, appear, emerge,” a verb composed of the prefix ex- “out of” and sistere “to stand, cause to stand, stop, set up.” In its first sense “of or relating to existence,” as in “The economic downturn posed an existential threat to small businesses,” existential is recorded in English in the mid-1600s. The second sense of existential, “of, relating to, or characteristic of philosophical existentialism; concerned with the nature of human existence as determined by the individual’s freely made choices,” is found by the late 1800s. Existentialism comes from German Existentialismus, coined in 1919. It is a movement closely associated with such philosophers as Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger, and stresses the individual’s unique position as a self-determining agent responsible for making meaningful, authentic choices in a universe seen as purposeless or irrational.
I have a dream that the people in power, as well as the media, start treating this crisis like the existential emergency it is.
It is perhaps the darkest of all the existential crises facing the toy characters in these movies, although the film finds a clever way of having him [Forky] embrace his identity as a toy by intersecting it with what he loves about garbage.
successive, alternating, or changing phases or conditions, as of life or fortune; ups and downs: They remained friends through the vicissitudes of 40 years.
Vicissitudes, the plural of vicissitude, is about ten times more common than the singular. Vicissitude comes via Middle French from Latin vicissitūdō (inflectional stem vicissitūdin-) “change, reversal, regular change or succession, reciprocity.” Vicissitūdō derives from vicissim “in turn, for a change, reciprocally,” a fossilized accusative noun used as an adverb, from the noun vicis “a turn, change, interchange.” Vicis (stem vic-) is the genitive singular of vix, a noun form that does not exist in Latin. The element –cissim is a combining form of the adverb cessim “giving way, yielding,” a derivative of cēdere “to go, proceed.” Vicissitude entered English in the second half of the 16th century.
These are people who imagine their boutique blend of gold and goodness can protect them from the vicissitudes of life, even as their dynasty dissipates with each passing generation.
The marble faces, which stand innumerable along the walls, and have kept themselves so calm through the vicissitudes of twenty centuries, had no sympathy for his disappointment ….
The noun roman “a novel, a tale of adventure or chivalry” has a complicated history. The English noun comes from Middle French roman (French roman) and referred to a popular work written in the vernacular to be read for pleasure (as opposed to serious legal or scholarly writing, which would be in Latin). Middle French roman comes from Old French romans, romanz, ronmanz (and other spellings) “a popular story in verse or prose written in the vernacular, a Romance language, the Romance languages.” The Old French forms derive from the Medieval Latin adverb Rōmānicē “in the popular language, in Romance” (as opposed to Lātīnē “in Latin”). Rōmānicē itself is a derivative of the Latin adjective Rōmānicus “in the Roman style or manner.” The French noun roman meaning “(a) novel,” was adopted by other Germanic languages during the 17th and 18th centuries. The noun roman entered English in the second half of the 16th century.
Red Harvest is often cited as the first hard-boiled American crime novel, but the fact that it might also constitute the first American roman noir draws attention to the close relationship between what we might tentatively call these different subgenres of writing.
Some of the romans, for example, produce the impression of a succession of short stories rather than of one continuous long story with succeeding chapters.
frenzied; agitated; unrestrained.
The English adjective corybantic comes from the Greek adjective Korybantikós, a derivative of the noun Korýbās (inflectional stem Korýbant-) “a corybant, a priest of the goddess Cybele in Phrygia (now in west central Turkey),” and in Greek also meaning “drunken person, enthusiast.” Further etymology is risky: apart from Korýbās and its derivatives being non-Greek, not much can be said. Phrygian is an obvious choice, but the Phrygians themselves borrowed a great deal from other peoples of ancient Anatolia (Asian Turkey). Corybantic entered English in the 17th century.
It penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions news items, mutually irrelevant bits of information, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis, but merely create a craving for daily or even hourly emotional enemas.
There was obviously no enthroned authority here, no bejeweled king to pacify when emotions ran wild, but complete freedom to embrace joy with corybantic abandonment.