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.


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 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


December 30, 2008

Aquiline – adj. 1 like an eagle. 2 (of a nose) curved like an eagle’s beak.

This one’s pretty simple, but neat.  


Aquiline is a well-known wedding band in the UK.  If you’re getting married in England and need a classy band, look these guys up.

Aquiline is also a family of type fonts.  The following sentence, for example, is in aquiline:



December 28, 2008

Apropos – prep. with reference to.  

PHRASES – Apropos of nothing – having no relevance to any previous discussion or situation.

This is another one of those words that I’ve heard before but probably couldn’t use properly.  Until now, of course.  It’s also one of very few prepositions that has made this blog (it may be the only preposition to make the blog so far).

When I was looking for examples of usage, I saw that, in real life, people often use the word apropos as an adjective, as in this sentence:  

“Time is money, as they say, and it was never more apropos than on a television show, where a minute is worth about $200!”
 Dirk Benedict

That is incorrect and you can rub that in someone’s face sometime.  But it may be that apropos in adjective form is an acceptable usage, but simply not recognized by the Oxford dictionary.

A correct usage is in this sentence: 

“America is a forgiving nation, apropos Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton, Latrell Sprewell and Pee Wee Herman.”
 Fraser Seitel

I discovered that Apropos is a very popular name in Spyware.  Kinda boring, I know.

Apropos of Something is a funny blog about comics, for all you nerds out there (nothing wrong with being a nerd, by the way).  They take classic comic cells and switch out the original text for humorous text.  It can be kinda funny.