What People Are
verb (used without object)
to squeal with joy, excitement, etc.
Squee! It’s easy to hear how this word imitates the sound of a high-pitched squeal. As an expression of joy, excitement, celebration, or the like, squee originates as a playful, written interjection in digital communications in the late 1990s, as in “OMG is in the dictionary. Squee!” By the early 2000s, squee expanded as a verb used to convey such excited emotions: “The students squeed when they learned the Word of the Day.”
I squeed in happiness when I stole a warrior’s Whirlwind attack and used it against him.
… we’re also going to take a moment to squee about the possibility of Martian microbes.
extremely small; tiny; diminutive.
In the first of the four adventures of his 1726 satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift has his narrator, Lemuel Gulliver, shipwrecked on the invented island of Lilliput. Its residents, the Lilliputians, are under six inches high—and their smallness is widely interpreted as a commentary on the British politics of Swift’s day. Lilliputian was quickly extended as an adjective meaning “extremely small; tiny; diminutive,” often implying a sense of pettiness. In the second adventure, Gulliver voyages to an imaginary land of giants, the Brobdingnagians, whose name has been adopted as a colorful antonym for Lilliputian.
The Lilliputian vest was over-the-top ’00s style at its finest ….
… miniature things still have the power to enthrall us …. That, at least, is one theory as to why people obsessively re-create big things in Lilliputian dimensions.
a word that has come into existence by error rather than by normal linguistic transmission, as through the mistaken reading of a manuscript, a scribal error, or a misprint.
Ghost word is a term coined by the great English philologist and lexicographer Walter Skeat in an address he delivered as president of the Philological Society in 1886. One amusing example that Skeat mentioned in his address comes from one of Sir Walter Scott’s novels, The Monastery (1820), “… dost thou so soon morse thoughts of slaughter?” Morse is only a misprint of nurse, but two correspondents proposed their own etymologies for morse. One proposed that it meant “to prime (as with a musket),” from Old French amorce “powder for the touchhole” (a touchhole is the vent in the breech of an early firearm through which the charge was ignited). The other correspondent proposed that morse meant “to bite” (from Latin morsus, past participle of mordere), therefore “to indulge in biting, stinging, or gnawing thoughts of slaughter.” The matter was finally settled when Scott’s original manuscript was consulted, and it was found that he had plainly written nurse.
Your true ghost word is a very rare beast indeed, a wild impossible chimera that never before entered into the heart of man to conceive.
Spookily enough, phantomnation itself is a “ghost word” originating in a 1725 translation of Homer’s Odyssey by Alexander Pope.
strangely diabolical or cruel; monstrous: a ghoulish and questionable sense of humor.
Ghoulish literally means “of, relating to, or like a ghoul.” If you know your folklore (and word origins), you won’t be surprised to learn why ghoulish evolved to mean “strangely diabolical or cruel; monstrous.” Recorded in the late 1700s, English ghoul is borrowed from the Arabic ghūl (based on a verb meaning “to seize”), a desert-dwelling demon in Arabic legend that robbed graves and preyed on human corpses. A ghūl was also believed to be able to change its shape—except for its telltale feet, which always took the form of donkey’s hooves. A “monstrous” creature, indeed. Ghoulish entered English in the 1800s.
… her dark humor and ghoulish sensibility are not for everyone.
… much of the story’s ghoulish humor derives from his habit of visualizing and communicating with murder victims, their ghosts intervening to help him solve each crime in trial-and-error fashion.
a wish or prayer for the repose of the dead.
Requiescat, as any high school Latin student can tell you, is the third person singular present subjunctive active of the Latin verb requiēscere “to rest, be at rest, rest in death” and means “May he/she/it rest.” If the kid wants to show off, they may volunteer that requiescat is an optative subjunctive, that is, a subjunctive that expresses a wish, as opposed to a hortatory subjunctive, a subjunctive that exhorts, as in requiēscāmus “Let’s take a rest,” or a jussive subjunctive, which expresses a command, as in requiescant “Let them rest!” (Requiēscant can also be an optative subjunctive, “May they rest.”) Requiescat usually appears in the phrase Requiescat In Pace (abbreviated R.I.P.) “May he/she/it rest in peace,” seen on tombstones. Requiescat entered English in the second half of the 1700s.
In delivering its eulogy, perhaps I can beg a requiescat from its enemies as well.
That emotion. I bury it here by the sea … And a heart’s requiescat I write on that grave.
gruesome and horrifying; ghastly; horrible.
The history of the adjective macabre is confusing. The word is Middle French and first occurs (in French) in 1376, Je fis de Macabré la dance “I made the Dance of Death.” In late Middle English Macabrees daunce meant “Dance of Death.” French Macabré may be an alteration of Macabé “Maccabaeus”; if so, Macabré la dance may be the same as the medieval ritual or procession chorēa Machabaeōrum “dance of the Maccabees,” honoring the martyrdom of Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers (II Maccabees). Macabre entered English in the 15th century.
Their macabre task is swabbing dead animals they find by the side of the road to get hold of their microbiomes—the communities of microorganisms that inhabit these mammals.
Vincent (1982) combines Burton’s burgeoning visual aesthetic with his lifelong love of the macabre and interest in stop-motion animation.
a bristling of the hair on the skin from cold, fear, etc.; goose bumps.
Horripilation “bristling of the hair on the skin from cold or fear,” is a three-dollar word for goose bumps. Horripilation comes from the Late Latin noun horripilātiō (inflectional stem horripilation-), a derivative of the verb horripilāre “to become bristly or hairy.” Horripilātiō first appears in the Vulgate, the Latin version of the Bible, prepared chiefly by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century a.d. Horripilation entered English in the mid-17th century.
… I have often wandered round other reputedly haunted places, especially in the vicinity of mills and local stream meets and in many have experienced that same horripilation of the flesh ….
I can’t have been the only person who spent the evening in a pretty much constant state of horripilation.