March 31, 2009

Ascesis – n. the practice of severe self-discipline.  Ascetic – adj. characterized by the practice of severe self-discipline.

See Asceticism for the Wikipedia treatment.

Not surprisingly, the word ascesis comes up frequently in religious contexts.  Asceticism is a virtue especially in very devout religious circles.  But, unfortunately, not very interesting to read about.  But if you have a few moments and are curious enough, you could always watch this video that describes asceticism.

Something more interesting is Ascetic Records, which, if you enjoy indie/prog rock sort of stuff, might just tune you in to some good new music.  I think they’ve got some good bands under their wing.

And by some crazy coincidence, if you’re more interested in French hip-hop then Ascetic Music is the website for you.

And then there’s always The Ascetic Junkies.  Or the song Ascetic by CIGARETTA.

Who knew asceticism was such a big part of the music industry?  Ha.

Arian vs. Aryan

March 29, 2009

Arian – n. a follower of Arianism, which is the main heresy denying the divinity of Christ, originating with the Alexandrian priest Arius (c.250-c.336)

Aryan – n. 1 a member of a people speaking an Indo-European language who invaded northern India in the second millenium BC. 2 the language of this people. 3 (in Nazi ideology) a person of Caucasian race not of Jewish decent.

arian_band_albumOne of the first results that accompany the term Arian is the Arian Band from Iran.  Although the band’s website offers a link to an English band site, there isn’t anything on the English site, only on the Persian site.  Apparently, though, the band is something of an international sensation and certainly one of Iran’s best known bands.

A related note is that Iran is a cognate of Aryan and means “Land of the Aryans.”  These would probably be the Aryans referred to in the first part of the word’s definition.  Which makes me wonder if the Arian Band actually meant to call themselves the Aryan Band.  Or perhaps they intentionally misspelled their name to avoid association with the Aryan Nation.  Because I see little justification for naming themselves after a type of Christian heresy.  Who knows?  For Iranians, Arian is probably just an alternate spelling for Aryan.

Another common internet result is Dr. Sami Al-Arian, accused conspirator with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and subject of a 2007 documentary about his life in the U.S. before and after his trial.

aryanWhat is perhaps most commonly associated with the term Aryan is the concept of the Aryan Race, and organizations like the Aryan Nation, the Aryan Brotherhood and, in Canada, the Aryan Guard.  Most of you will know that the Aryan Race was made infamous by Adolf Hitler.  Personally, I find the ideology of these Aryan groups very offensive, but I found it very educational to visit their websites, in the sense that I now have a reliable source on which to base my opinions of that group.  I think knowing a little bit about them helps prevent us from being like them, in the sense that our opinion about them is not based solely on prejudices and hearsay.  But it makes me incredibly sad that there are people out there like that.  And they’re everywhere.  I’m so grateful we live in a nation where those kind of people will never be more than an annoying thorn in our sides.

And finally if you want to learn about Arianism, you can look here or here.  But unless you love religious history it will probably be very boring.  I couldn’t make it through more than a few paragraphs.


March 25, 2009

Arriviste – n. a person bent on improving their social or financial status; a parvenu.

arrivisteArriviste is a wine apparently made exclusively at Blackbird Vineyards in Napa Valley.  It seems an appropriate name for a wine.

Arriviste Press is a once-prolific, now-defunct online publication.  It was one of those pretentiously trendy little outfits, with features like Virtual Wingman or Virtual Breakup services and little Arriviste Press thongs for sale in their online store.  At any rate they seemed to make an effort to live up to their namesake.

Arriviste Arabians appears to be some sort of horse club, but I could only find this MySpace page.  Lame.

And finally, check out this music video from Blackara called Les Arrivistes.  It’s actually not too bad.

Participation Time!!

March 24, 2009

So this message is for all 3 of my regular readers.  I’ve discovered that I really enjoy when people make comments on my blogs.  I’ve also discovered that my word of the day blog doesn’t inspire many comments.  So in an effort to remedy that, I’m suggesting a little ongoing activity the 4 of us can do.  And it completely fits with the spirit of the blog.  

So what we’re going to try to do is use any word of the day and report back on how and in what context you used it by making a comment on the relevant word.  This is a chance to solidify these words in your vocabulary while sounding increasingly intelligent to those around you.

And now in point form:

  • Pick any word of the day from this blog
  • Use that word in conversation somehow
  • Leave a comment on the blog detailing how you used it and how smart you felt when you used it
  • Repeat as often as possible

Now go my fellow word nerds and report back soon!


March 23, 2009

Argute – adj. shrewd.

This is a great new adjective to learn.  As a testament to its underappreciatedness there are few non-dictionary references to the word Argute on the web.


FFXI character dressed in the complete Argute Attire set

FFXI character dressed in the complete Argute Attire set

In my research I discovered that there is a set of items from Final Fantasy XI called the Argute Attire Set.  It’s interesting how video games will appropriate obscure words to make things sound more fantasy-like.



Argute is also the female plural form of the Italian adjective Arguto, which means basically the same thing as the English Argute.


March 21, 2009

Argot – n. the jargon or slang of a particular group.

prisonerThe term often denotes the specialized language that criminals would use to prevent others from understanding their conversations.  Its origins are French but the term Argot is used in the United States as well.  In England it is called Cant.  Argot is, apparently, the French word for slang.  Check out this site for more information on the history of Argot.

The website contains a VERY extensive list of drug slang.  There are literally hundreds of ways to refer to your street drug of choice.


March 19, 2009

Areology – n. the study of the planet Mars.mars

Origin: Ares, Greek god of war; equivalent to Mars, Roman god of war.

Here’s a pretty straightforward one for you today.  But kinda neat, right?  I guess there’s a name for the study of everything.  Can you imagine if kids told their parents they wanted to be areologists when they grow up?

If you’re interested in learning more about areology check out this areological blog with lots of pictures.  

Also, the domain name is currently for sale if you’re a Mars enthusiast looking for the perfect website.

And finally, in an attempt to inject some classical culture into this blog, I urge you to take a moment and enjoy this performance of Gustav Holst’s Planets – Mars: The Bringer of War


January 31, 2009

Arcology – n. an ideal city contained within a massive vertical structure, allowing maximum conservation of its environment.  

ORIGIN 1969: blend of Architecture and Ecology

So this is another word that I’m including because of its connection to a video game arcologyI used to play as a youth.  An arcology, you may remember, was the pinnacle of development in the game SimCity 2000.  It was always pretty satisfying when you finally reached the point where you could build one in your city.  Even more satisfying if you managed to get to that point without cheating.

SimCity aside, there is a lot of interesting information on the  web about arcologies.  Do check out the wikipedia entry on it.  

Many search results referred to Arcosanti, a modern arcology project in Arizona that is currently under construction.  Check out the link for much more information on the project.  It seems like a very interesting undertaking.




January 6, 2009

Arborescent – adj. tree-like.

Just a nice, simple one today.  For all you writers out there, this is a good one to add to your vocab.  And it sounds cool; it’s along the same lines as Will Ferrell’s scrumtrulescent.  Enjoy.

A tree.

A tree.








Also, Arborescent is a company that markets dendrimers.  When you’re in need of a good dendrimer, you know where to look.


January 5, 2009

Araucaria – n. an evergreen conifer with stiff sharp leaves, eg. the monkey puzzle.


Young Monkey Puzzle tree

Young Monkey Puzzle tree

I normally don’t include words on this blog that are names of plants or animals, mostly because they’re not that interesting and unless you’re a botanist or zoologist, you’ll never get to use them.  But today’s word brought back some memories for me and taught me something new.  

As a child, I lived in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada and there I would occasionally see what are called Monkey Puzzle trees (araucaria araucana) and I was utterly fascinated by them.  They are not native to Canada but are often used as ornamental trees.  My parents explained that they were called Monkey Puzzle trees because a monkey would never be able to climb one because of its sharp leaves.  I also just discovered that araucaria araucana is the national tree of Chile.  Kinda neat.  Hope you think so, too.

Mature Monkey Puzzle tree

Mature Monkey Puzzle tree

Monkey Puzzle tree leaves

Monkey Puzzle tree leaves