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.


Appurtenance and Appurtenant

December 17, 2008

Appurtenance – n. an accessory associated with a particular acitivity

Appurtenant – adj. formal belonging

These two words are obviously related in origin and more subtly related in meaning so they get to share a post.

An appurtenance also happens to be a type of Philipino military decoration.  The picture below is the Philipino Medal of Valor, not the appurtenance.  However, the appurtenance is a small symbol that may be added to an award like this one each successive time the honor is earned, instead of awarding additional medals.valor

I was able to find a quotation from Mike Wallace in which he uses the word:

“I’ve often replied, when asked, ‘I’ll retire when my toes turn up’. Well, they’re just beginning to curl a trifle, which means that, as I approach my 88th birthday, it’s become apparent to me that my eyes and ears, among other appurtenances, aren’t quite what they used to be.”

Appurtenant seems to be a word used in law more often than anywhere else.  For example, here it is used in the context of property law as found on Wikipedia’s page on easements:

“In the U.S., an easement appurtenant is one that benefits the dominant tenement (i.e. attached to adjoining land), as compared to an easementin gross that is personal to the holder of the easement and does not pass automatically to another person when the easement holder’s property is sold and bought.”


December 15, 2008

Apotropaic – adj. supposedly having the power to avert evil or bad luck.

amuletsSome terms related to today’s word include apotrope, which refer to objects like amulets or talismans meant to ward off evil, apotropaic magic, which can be thought of as any sort of ritual meant to ward off evil and, the one that I find most interesting, apotropaic names.  Apotropaic names are, as you’ve probably figured out, names meant to ward off evil.  The thing with apotropaic names is that to ward off evil they have to be unattractive to demons and other evil forces.  In some cultures this leads to names like “garlic” or “hippopotamus”, but an apotropaic name could even be something like “ugly” or “stupid” if the parents thought that would keep the evil away.


December 13, 2008

Apotheosis – n. (pl. apotheoses) 1 the highest point in the development of something. 2 elevation to divine status.

I like this word.  I would say that my word blog has not quite reached apotheosis yet, but its on its way.

apotheosisSo I discovered that there is a ceiling mural in the eye of the rotunda of the US Capitol called The Apotheosis of Washington, referring to former president George Washington.  You can use the link to learn more about the painting, but it depicts, among other things, “…George Washington rising to the heavens in glory…”  They really thought highly of George back in the day.  With good reason, I suppose.


And if you like graphic cartoon violence, watch this video called Madness Combat 4 – Apotheosis.  If you watch till the end you’ll understand the title.  But if you don’t like graphic cartoon violence don’t watch.

Apoplexy and Apoplectic

December 12, 2008

Apoplexy – n. (pl. -ies) 1 dated unconsciousness or incapacity resulting from a cerbral haemorrhage or stroke. 2 informal inability to act or speak caused by extreme anger.

Apoplectic  – adj. 1. informal overcome with anger  2. dated relating to or denoting apoplexy (stroke)

This is the quite the combo of words here.  They will make you sound like an expert whether you’re talking about strokes or about getting really angry.

The Wikipedia entry contains an interesting subsection listing famous people who have died as a result of apoplexy.  That’s an odd section to have, eh?

There is an awesome website called Apoplectic Press which, in its own words, is a place to get “strange and subversive  t-shirts and greeting cards for thinkers, dreamers and other misfits.”  Here are some samples:



December 10, 2008

Apologue – n. a moral fable, especially one with animals as characters.

The apologues you probably know are Aesop’s fables, like the Tortoise and the Hare or the Ant and the Grasshopper, and you could probably say that most of Disney’s animated movies are like apologues.


See if you can figure out the message behind this Aesop’s fable adaptation from the 30s.  I think it means that if you kill your camel in the desert you’ll have to escape from a whole bunch of Egyptian skeletons.


December 5, 2008

Apogee – n 1 Astronomy the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite at which it is furthest from the earth.  The opposite of perigee. 2 the culmination or climax of something.

So apogee caught my attention not only because it’s a cool word, but because it has some sentimental meaning for me.  Apogee was the name of a computer game developer back in the day that was responsible for some of my generation’s favorite and most classic computer games, Duke Nukem and Wolfenstein, for example.  crystalcavesWhile I’m sure that most people my age will recognize those titles, there were plenty of others from Apogee that my brother and I spent many an hour playing: Commander Keen, Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure, Crystal Caves, Math Rescue, and Paganitzu are the ones I remember playing.  My brother would probably remember better than I can.  These days Apogee is known as 3D Realms and you can check out more of their classic games about half way down the games page.

And we can’t neglect the astronomical meaning of the word.  Here’s a picture of what the moon looks like at both its apogee and its perigee.lunar-apogee-perigee

And don’t forget to find some way to use apogee, the second meaning.


December 3, 2008

Apodictic – adj. formal clearly established or beyond dispute.

What a sweet word!  If you think the adjective is cool, try out the abstract noun, apodicticity.  Nice.  I guess it has some philosophical significance.  Check it out on wikipedia.  Apparently, apodictic forms a triad along with assertoric and problematic, as types of propositions.

tencommandmentsApodictic law refers to divine law in the Old Testament expressing absolute prohibitions or injunctions, as in the Ten Commandments (eg. Thou shalt not kill.)

Apodictic Information Services definitely tries to use its namesake to sell its services.


December 1, 2008

Aplomb – n. self-confidence or assurance.

aplombTurns out aplomb is also a ballet term, referring to stability while dancing.  

Aplomb is also a popular business name.  We have companies like Aplomb Clothing, Aplomb Consulting, Aplomb Translations, and Aplomb Technology, just to name a few.




And here’s some weird stuff for ya.  There is a goth band called Field of Aplomb.  Enjoy this eerie video.