November 27, 2008

Antinomy – n. a paradox

According to wikipedia, antinomy literally means the mutual incompatibility, real or apparent, of two laws. It is a term used in logic and epistemology.  Not to be confused with the chemical element, antimony.

antinomyFor all you magicians out there, Antinomy is a quarterly publication devoted to magic.

plasticantinomyAnd Plastic Antinomy is a quarterly visual arts magazine in the San Francisco Area.  Interesting coincidence that Antinomy seems to be such a popular magazine title.


November 25, 2008

Anthropophagy – n. cannibalism.

Talk about a sweet synonym!  You’ll sound super smart when you use this one.  And you can refer to cannibals in general as Anthropophagi.  Put this one to good use.

You can read about cannibalism here.  If you have a strong stomach, take a look at some bios of famous cannibals here.  

Albert Fish (the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria)albertfish




andreichikatiloAndrei Chikatilo (Citizen X, the Rostov Ripper)




edgeinEd Gein




dahmer_jJeffrey Dahmer


November 24, 2008

Anserine – adj. of or like a goose.

So, it turns out that anserine is also a dipeptide found in the skeletal muscle and brain of mammals.  Not so interesting.  But anserine the adjective is interesting.  I hope you can find a way to put it to good use.



November 23, 2008

Anorak – n. 1 a waterproof jacket, usually with a hood. 2 Brit informal a socially inept person with unfashionable and largely solitary interests.

anorakI first heard the word anorak in my elementary school French classes.  We all thought it was such a strange thing to call a hoodie, although I guess it is a little different than a hoodie..  I don’t know why it was in French class that we learned it.  It’s the same in English and French.  I guess our textbook thought anorak was an important word for ten year olds to learn.  However, one thing our French textbook didn’t tell us was the second definition of the word.  Those silly Brits.  Apparently the second meaning comes from the frequent use of the anorak by trainspotters, who are considered very dull and socially inept people.  Interesting, eh?  If you don’t know what trainspotting is, check it out here.  I suppose I might have been a bit of an anorak as a child.  But I never wore one.

And for a little fun, Anorak is a British news parody website and publication.


November 22, 2008

Anomie – n. lack of the usual social or ethical standards.

My inner sociologist loves this term.  It’s very fascinating to explore the meaning and implications of this word more in depth.  Probably not for everyone, though.  Read the wikipedia article.  It mentions that Emile thestrangerDurkheim popularized the usage of the term.  It also mentions a few books that provide examples of anomie, one of which I have actually read and would recommend to anyone who finds this even remotely interesting: The Stranger, by Albert Camus.  


Take away sociology and anomie is still connected to some interesting stuff.  For instance, the band Anomie Belle, which is actually quite good.  Very chill music.  Check it out.

I also found a sweet website dedicated to graffiti art.  You have to register to look at the pics but it’s simple and worth it.  It’s called Anomie1, check it out.

Annus Mirabilis – n. a remarkable or auspicious year.

Annus Horribilis – n. a year of disaster or misfortune.

I thought these were interesting.  Jam packed with fun stuff.  I didn’t know there were actually names for it.  I can’t imagine they would be very easily incorporated into day to day speech, though.  “Man, 2008 was an annus horribilis!”  “Yeah, I hope 2009 is an annus mirabilis.”  Haha.  I dare you to do it!

annushorrprojThe Annus Horribilis Project seems really interesting actually.  Some guy in the UK is collecting people’s “worst day ever” stories and compiling them.  There’s some info about it on Wikipedia, but it’s all based on MySpace.  Check it out.

Interestingly, The Annus Mirabilis Papers are a collection of papers authored by none other than Albert Einstein.  They discuss the photoelectric effect, brownian motion, special relativity and matter and energy equivalence.  Sounds like an easy read.

Here’s a poem by Philip Larkin entitled Annus Mirabilis:


Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

Up to then there'd only been
A sort of bargaining,
A wrangle for the ring,
A shame that started at sixteen
And spread to everything.

Then all at once the quarrel sank:
Everyone felt the same,
And every life became
A brilliant breaking of the bank,
A quite unlosable game.

So life was never better than
In nineteen sixty-three
(Though just too late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

A Short Break From The Word

November 11, 2008

I’ve been trying to add an entry once a day or at least once every couple of days.  I haven’t been doing so great lately and I’m afraid the trend may continue until I’m finished with grad school applications.  I just  discovered that the application deadline for one school is a month earlier than all the others.  So wish me luck with that and I promise I’ll be back to the word of the day before you know it!


November 6, 2008

ANIMADVERT – v. (animadvert on/upon/against) formal criticize or censure.

fingerwaggingSo this word is, unsurprisingly, one without much popular media attached to it on the web.  It is, however, an excellent, obscure word to add to your vocabulary.  But I fear that it is too cumbersome and complicated for me to get much use out of it.  Best of luck to the rest of you, though.  Try saying it with a British accent, it sounds a little less clunky that way.

On the lighter side, here’s a blog where people play a game making up definitions for obscure words.  They have a post for Animadvert.  Check it out.

Angels On Horseback

November 5, 2008

ANGELS ON HORSEBACK – pl. n. Brit an appetizer consisting of oysters individually wrapped in bacon and served on toast.

Good ol’ Oxford serves up some interesting British words and phrases now and then.  This one gave me a chuckle and I decided it would be today’s word.  I would also love to try it.  It sounds kind of delicious.  Compare it with Devils on Horseback.