Saturday, June 16, 2012

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I'm lobbying for a new rule in Scrabble: in order to play a word, you not only need to know that it is in the Scrabble dictionary, but you need to know what it means.

Words have meaning; meaning is necessary for communication. Imagine my frustration doing a writing exercise that forced me to write up my own definition for unfamiliar words.

I'm reorganizing files on the laptop, and ran across the results. Here they are, for your pleasure.

Prompt #3
Grab a dictionary. Pick ten words at random and create meanings for them.

OK, I cheated a bit, as I have no paper dictionary and doesn’t act as a random word generator. I plugged in two-letter words, then looked at the “nearby words” list to find words I didn’t know.

It was harder than it sounds.  So here we go – the word and my definition, followed by the actual meaning in italics.

Tymbal: verb; To tumble end over end, imitating a falling tree while yelling “Timber!”.  (alternate spelling of timbal, a kettledrum)

Stridulation: adjective; The relative stridentness of a mother’s voice as her children continue to exasperate her; “Monique’s voice took on a stridulation of three on a scale of five as her children continued to jump on the trampoline in spite of her repeated demands they come into the house for lunch.” (to produce a shrill, grating sound, as a cricket does, by rubbing together certain parts of the body; shrill.)

Imago: phrase: Phrase often used by Italian immigrants to indicate imminent leavetaking; “I-ma-go to the market”. (an adult sexually mature insect produced after metamorphosis)

Fantoccini: noun; a dream sequence characterized by the presence of zucchini, ditalini, or Henry Mancini. Generally induced by overconsumption of one of the same. (puppets or marionettes manipulated by strings, wires, or mechanical devices.)

Palter: noun; a halter for a pony. (to talk or act insincerely or deceitfully; lie or use trickery.)

Quab: noun; a squib that didn’t go off. (An unfledged bird; hence, something immature or unfinished.)

Kiswahili: noun; Hawaiian term for tourists who drink too much and pass out at the luau. (Swahili, a member of a Bantu people of Zanzibar and the neighboring coast of Africa.)

Megrim: adjective: A self-descriptive term for when ones wants one’s hearers to understand you mean to seem grim, but your babyface cannot communicate the feeling behind your words: “Little Henry tried to arrange the features on his chubby-cheeked face into some semblance of sobriety in line with his coming announcement, but failed miserably. Finally he was forced to say, “I am extremely megrim when I say I have inoperable cancer.” (megrims, low spirits; the blues)

Craal: verb: Klingon dialect in obscure village on Kr’elk. To crawl on one’s belly before a superior, to show submission: “Cra’al, federation dog, before I take off your head with one twist of my hands!” (variant of kraal, an enclosure for cattle and other domestic animals in southern Africa.)

Erugate: verb: To irrigate one’s mind for the purpose of flushing out unwanted knowledge, making room for other thoughts. “After the exam, Henry erugated all Algebra II information, replacing it rapidly with the full tourist brochure listing of party bars in Daytona Beach.” (an enclosure for cattle and other domestic animals in southern Africa.)

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