Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: Z - Zephyr


zeph·yr [zefər] n. 1. A gentle, mild breeze. 2. (often capitalized) Literary. The west wind.

Synonyms: breeze, gentle wind, air

Etymology: mid-14c., from Old English Zefferus, from Latin Zephyrus, from Greek Zephyros "the west wind" (sometimes personified as a god), probably related to zophos "the west, the dark region, darkness, gloom." Sense of "mild breeze" is c.1600.

And with that, the challenge has ended. May your pride at surviving such a feat blow you like a gentle breeze through the rest of the months of the year (pun not intended, but hilarious).

There are a few bloggers, in particular, I would to thank for the incredible efforts they pour into this labor of love.

Arlee Bird. Founding father, fearless leader, intrepid blogger. Lee dreamed up the April A to Z challenge, and it is to him and him alone that all of us owe our deepest gratitude. I would probably know hundreds, if not thousands, less bloggers than I know today if it were not for Lee.

Alex J. Cavanaugh. Ninja. Captain (Pirate?). Friend. Alex is the master of the linky list, and I'm pretty sure he does about 4 times as much work as any other co-host. He is the grease that keeps the challenge running.

Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]. Designer. Entrepreneur. Editor. I probably owe Jeremy more than anyone, personally. Jeremy designs all the graphics for the challenge, and while it might have been my little idea to use an original graphic for each letter, it was Jeremy who did all the work to make them (and who therefore owns the copyright). It was due solely to his efforts that my posts looked so good (assuming you thought they'd looked good, if you didn't then Jeremy's to blame).

Monday, April 29, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: Y - Yeoman


yeo·man [yōmən] n. 1. An attendant, servant, or lesser official in a royal or noble household. 2. A petty officer or noncommissioned officer in the Royal Navy or Marines in charge of signals. 3. A farmer who cultivates his own land, especially a member of a former class of small freeholders in England.

Synonyms: beefeater, yeoman of the guard

Etymology: c.1300, "attendant in a noble household," of unknown origin, perhaps a contraction of Old English iunge man "young man," or from an unrecorded Old English *geaman, equivalent of Old Frisian gaman "villager," from Old English -gea "district, village," cognate with Old Frisian ga, ge, from Proto-Germanic *gaujan.

Sense of "commoner who cultivates his land" is recorded from early 15c.; also the third order of fighting men (late 14c., below knights and squires, above knaves), hence yeomen's service "good, efficient service" (c.1600). Meaning "naval petty officer in charge of supplies" is first attested 1660s. Yeowoman first recorded 1852: "Then I am yeo-woman O the clumsy word!" [Tennyson, "The Foresters"]

How does one word end up with so many distinct meanings? Strange, eh?

Well we've only one more day left now. Just keep swimming.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: X - Xanthous


xan·thous [zænθəs] adj. Of the color intermediate between green and orange in the color spectrum; of something resembling the color of an egg yolk.

Synonyms: yellow, yellowish

Etymology: 1829, from Greek xanthos "yellow," of unknown origin. Prefix form xantho- is used in many scientific words; cf. xanthein (1857) "soluble yellow coloring matter in flowers," Huxley's Xanthochroi (1867) "blond, light-skinned races of Europe" (with okhros "pale"), xanthophyll (1838) "yellow coloring matter in autumn leaves."

Man, there are seriously very few words that start with X that have interesting etymologies. Enjoy your day off!

Friday, April 26, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: W - Widdershins


wid·der·shins [widərˌSHinz] adv. In a direction contrary to the sun's course, considered as unlucky; counterclockwise.

Synonyms: counterclockwise

Etymology: 1510s, chiefly Scottish, originally "contrary to the course of the sun or a clock" (movement in this direction considered unlucky), probably from Middle Low German weddersinnes, literally "against the way" (i.e. "in the opposite direction"), from widersinnen "to go against," from wider "against" (see with) + sinnen "to travel, go," from Old High German sinnen, related to sind "journey" (see send).

And with that, have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: V - Vicarious


vi·car·i·ous [vīˈkerēəs] adj. Felt or undergone as if one were taking part in the experience or feelings of another.

Synonyms: substitute, surrogate, empathetic

Etymology: 1630s, from Latin vicarius "substitute, deputy" (adj. and n.), from vicis "turn, change, exchange, substitution," from PIE root *weik-, *weig- "to bend, wind" (cf. Sanskrit visti "changing, changeable;" Old English wician "to give way, yield," wice "wych elm;" Old Norse vikja "to bend, turn;" Swedish viker "willow twig, wand;" German wechsel "change"). Related: Vicariously.

I believe the root, which is even earlier, is Vicar: c.1300, from Old French vicaire, from Latin vicarius "substitute, deputy," noun use of adj. vicarius "substituting," from vicis "change, turn, office" (see vicarious). The original notion is of "earthly representative of God or Christ;" but also used in sense of "person acting as parish priest in place of a real parson" (early 14c.).

Words are so cool. We're nearing the end now. How is everyone faring?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: U - Undulation


un·du·la·tion [ʌndjuˈleɪʃn] n. 1. A regular rising and falling or movement to alternating sides; movement in waves. 2. A wavelike form, outline, or appearance.

Synonyms: wave

Etymology: 1640s, from Medieval Latin *undulatio, from Late Latin undulatus "wavy, undulated," from undula "wavelet," diminutive of Latin unda "wave" (see water).

I really wanted to do undulate, because verbs are just cooler than nouns, but the etymology for undulate was: see undulation. Boring.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: T - Tacit


tac·it [tasit] adj. Implied or inferred without direct expression; understood.

Synonyms: implied, understood, inferred, unspoken

Etymology: c.1600, from French tacite, from Latin tacitus "that is passed over in silence, done without words, assumed, silent," prop. past participle of tacere "to be silent," from PIE root *tak- "to be silent" (cf. Gothic þahan, Old Norse þegja "to be silent," Old Norse þagna "to grow dumb," Old Saxon thagian, Old High German dagen "to be silent"). The musical instruction tacet is the 3rd person present singular of the Latin verb.

You gotta love a word with such diverse origins.

NOTE: The time has come to begin considering the A to Z Challenge Reflections Post (we're nearing the end, people)!

We will be doing a reflections post again this year and invite all participants of the Challenge to join us.

  • What did you enjoy about the Challenge?
  • What could we do better next year?
  • What issues did you encounter? (Word verification, unable to comment, long posts, etc.)
  • Did you encounter many non-participants? (With help from our minions, we tried really hard to clean the list this year.)
  • Theme or no theme – what seemed to work better? Did you find any great themes?
  • Did you have fun and will you participate again next year?

Your Reflections can be posted anytime from May 3 through May 10. The Linky List will go live May 3 and we ask you to add the link to your post, not your website, once you have posted. The Challenge hosts read every one so we know where to improve for next year.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: S - Sibilant


sib·i·lant [ˈsibələnt] adj. Of, characterized by, or producing a hissing sound like that of (s) or (sh).

Synonyms: hissing

Etymology: 1660s, from Latin sibilantem (nominative sibilans), present participle of sibilare "to hiss, whistle," possibly of imitative origin (cf. Greek sizein "to hiss," Lettish sikt "to hiss," Old Church Slavonic svistati "to hiss, whistle"). The noun meaning "speech sound having a hissing effect" is from 1788.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: R - Revise


re·vise [riˈvīz] v. 1. To prepare a newly edited version of (a text). 2. To reconsider and change or modify: I have revised my opinion of him.

Synonyms: change, review, modify, reconsider, re-examine

Etymology: 1560s, "to look at again," from Middle French reviser, from Latin revisere "look at again, visit again," frequentative of revidere (past participle revisus), from re- "again" (see re-) + videre "to see" (see vision). Meaning "to look over again with intent to improve or amend" is recorded from 1590s. Related: Revised; revising. The Revised Version of the Bible was done 1870-84; so called because it was a revision of the 1611 ("King James") translation, also known as the Authorized Version.

Highly appropriate for us writers, and very timely for myself, in fact.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: Q - Quagmire


quag·mire [kwagˌmī(ə)r] n. 1. Land with a soft muddy surface. 2. A difficult or precarious situation; a predicament.

Synonyms: 1. mire, morass, quag, slack 2. predicament, difficulty, quandary

Etymology: 1570s, from obsolete quag "bog, marsh" + mire (n.). Extended sense of "difficult situation, inextricable position" is recorded by 1766.

Sorry this is so late today. It's been a crazy week.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: P - Penultimate


pe·nul·ti·mate [peˈnəltəmit] adj. Last but one in a series of things; second last: "the penultimate chapter of the book."

Synonyms: next-to-last (more a phrase-as-word, but hey, whatever)

Etymology: 1670s, from penultima (n.) on model of proximate.

Well that's boring, let's look at Penultima: 1580s, from Latin penultima (syllaba), "the next to the last syllable of a word or verse," from fem. of Latin adjective penultimus "next-to-last," from paene "almost" + ultimus "final" (see ultimate).

There we go. My understanding of this word was not quite right until today.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: O - Occult


oc·cult [əˈkəlt] n. Occult practices or techniques: a student of the occult. v. To conceal or cause to disappear from view. adj. Of, relating to, or dealing with supernatural influences, agencies, or phenomena.

Synonyms: n: supernatural, v: eclipse, adj: mystic, orphic, mysterious, mystical, secret

Etymology: adj: 1530s, "secret, not divulged," from Middle French occulte and directly from Latin occultus "hidden, concealed, secret," past participle of occulere "cover over, conceal," from ob "over" (see ob-) + a verb related to celare "to hide," from PIE root *kel- "to hide" (see cell). Meaning "not apprehended by the mind, beyond the range of understanding" is from 1540s. The association with the supernatural sciences (magic, alchemy, astrology, etc.) dates from 1630s.

Isn't that one interesting? To be perfectly honest, I had no idea it could also be a verb.

We're over half way done now, and today is my day to post at the A to Z blog again. Please stop by and say hi!

On a more serious note, I'm posting at The Kindness Project as well today, reacting, in the only way I know how, to the tragedy that occurred in Boston on Monday. Don't feel obligated to read it, but if you have time, it might lift your spirits a little.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: N - Necromancy


nec·ro·man·cy [nekrəˌmansē] n. The practice of supposedly communicating with the spirits of the dead in order to predict the future.

Synonyms: none

Etymology: c.1300, nygromauncy, "divination by communication with the dead," from Old French nigromancie "magic, necromancy, witchcraft, sorcery," from Medieval Latin nigromantia (13c.), from Latin necromantia "divination from an exhumed corpse," from Greek nekromanteia, from nekros "dead body" (see necro-) + manteia "divination, oracle," from manteuesthai "to prophesy," from mantis "prophet" (see mania). Spelling influenced in Medieval Latin by niger "black," on notion of "black arts." Modern spelling is a mid-16c. correction. Related: Necromantic.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: M - Magi


ma·gi [māˌjī] n. pl n sing ma·gus 1. (Non-Christian) the Zoroastrian priests of the ancient Medes and Persians. 2. (Christian) the wise men from the East who came to do homage to the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12) and traditionally called Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.

Synonyms: Wise Men, sage, seer

Etymology: c.1200, "skilled magicians, astrologers," from Latin magi, plural of magus "magician, learned magician," from Greek magos, a word used for the Persian learned and priestly class as portrayed in the Bible (said by ancient historians to have been originally the name of a Median tribe), from Old Persian magush "magician" (see magic). Related: Magian.

This one is interesting to me, because being an old D&D'er, I always thought Magi was just another word for Wizard.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: L - Lycanthropy


ly·can·thro·py [līˈkanTHrəpē] n. in folklore, the magical ability to assume the form and characteristics of a wolf.

Synonyms: none

Etymology: 1580s, a form of madness (described by ancient writers) in which the afflicted thought he was a wolf, from Greek lykanthropia, from lykanthropos "wolf-man," from lykos "wolf" (see wolf (n.)) + anthropos "man" (see anthropo-). Originally a form of madness (described by ancient writers) in which the afflicted thought he was a wolf; applied to actual transformations of persons (especially witches) into wolves since 1830 (see werewolf).

I'm sure we're all pretty familiar with this fun word, but it's always cool to see the etymology.

Note: today is my day to post at the main A to Z blog, so please come check out my post for L!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: K - Kenosis


ke·no·sis n. Christianity The relinquishment of the form of God by Jesus in becoming man and suffering death.

Synonyms: none

Etymology: from Greek kenosis "an emptying," from kenoein "to empty," from PIE *ken- "empty." From Phil. ii:7. Related: Kenotic.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: J - Jaded


jad·ed adj. Tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something.

Synonyms: wearied, tired, exhausted

Etymology: "bored by continual indulgence," 1630s; past participle adjective from jade (v.).

Note: this one's for Candace.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: I - Incubus


in·cu·bus n. an evil spirit supposed to descend upon and have sexual intercourse with women as they sleep.

Synonyms: daemon, daimon, demon, devil, fiend

Etymology: c.1200, from Late Latin (Augustine), from Latin incubo "nightmare, one who lies down on (the sleeper)," from incubare "to lie upon" (see incubate). Plural is incubi. In the Middle Ages their existence was recognized by law.

Like Eurythmics, also a band.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: H - Heft


heft [heft] v. - lift or carry (something heavy) n. - the weight of someone or something

Synonyms: verb: raise, lift, heave, weigh noun: weight, heaviness, ponderosity, burden

Etymology: verb: "to lift," 1660s, from heft (n.). Related: Hefted; hefting. noun: mid-15c., "weight, heaviness, quality of weight," from heave on analogy of thieve/theft, weave/weft, etc.; also influenced by heft, obsolete past participle of heave.

I find it utterly fascinating that the noun is older than the verb. Isn't that interesting?

Monday, April 8, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: G - Gnosis


gno·sis [nōsis] n. - knowledge of spiritual mysteries.

Synonyms: gnosticism

Etymology: "special knowledge of spiritual mysteries," 1703, from Greek gnosis "investigation, knowledge," in Christian writers, "higher knowledge of spiritual things" (see gnostic (adj.)).

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: F - Feral


fe·ral [fi(ə)rəl] adj. - (esp. of an animal) In a wild state, esp. after escape from captivity or domestication: "a feral cat".

Synonyms: ferine, savage

Etymology: c.1600, from Middle French feral "wild," from Latin fera, in phrase fera bestia "wild animal," from ferus "wild" (see fierce).

Or, if you're playing Fallout 3, this could be a person who was ghoulified by radiation.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: E - Eurythmics


eu·ryth·mics [yəˈriTHmiks] n. - the art of interpreting musical compositions by rhythmical, free-style bodily movement.

Synonyms: eurhythmics, eurhythmy, eurythmy

Etymology: also eurhythmic, "harmonious," 1831, from Greek eurythmia "rhythmical order," from eurythmos "rhythmical," from eu "well" (see eu-) + rhythmos "rhythm" (see rhythm). Related: Eurythmics (1912); eurythmy.

Yes, it's also a band.

NOTE: I'm finally back at my desk at the office today. I really enjoyed my time with my family at Universal Studios (see Facebook for some photos), and especially at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but I really wouldn't recommend going out of town for the first few days when you're co-hosting something as huge as the 2013 April A to Z Challenge. It's been going very well so far, of course, but I've felt bad I haven't been able to visit all of you who've been visiting me (or meeting anyone who hasn't, for that matter). But I plan to remedy all of that, now that I'm back, so I'm looking forward to reading all your posts!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: D - Desultory


des·ul·to·ry [desəlˌtôrē] adj. - passing or jumping from one thing to another, esp in a fitful way; unmethodical; disconnected.

Synonyms: random, vague, irregular, loose, rambling, inconsistent, erratic, disconnected, haphazard, cursory, aimless, off and on, fitful, spasmodic, discursive, unsystematic, inconstant, maundering, unmethodical

Etymology: 1580s, "skipping about," from Latin desultorius "hasty, casual, superficial," adjective form of desultor (n.) "a rider in the circus who jumps from one horse to another while they are in gallop," from desul-, stem of desilire "jump down," from de- "down" (see de-) + salire "to jump, leap" (see salient). Sense of "irregular, without aim or method" is c.1740. Related: Desultorily; desultoriness.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: C - Copacetic


co·pa·cet·ic or co·pa·set·ic [kōpəˈsetik] adj. - very satisfactory or acceptable; fine.

Synonyms: satisfactory, acceptable, fine.

Etymology: 1919, but it may have origins in 19c. U.S. Southern black speech. Origin unknown, suspects include Latin, Yiddish (e.g. Hebrew kol b'seder), Italian, Louisiana French (coupe-sétique), and Native American. None is considered convincing by linguists.

Now that's an interesting etymology!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: B - Bourgeois


bour·geois [boor-zhwä] n. pl. - a member of the middle class, esp one regarded as being conservative and materialistic or (in Marxist theory) a capitalist exploiting the working class. adj. - of, relating to, or typical of the middle class.

Synonyms: there are no synonyms for such a specific word, but some related terms are: businessperson, capitalist, burgher.

Etymology: 1560s, "of the French middle class," from French bourgeois, from Old French burgeis, borjois "town dweller" (see bourgeoisie). Sense of "socially or aesthetically conventional" is from 1764; in communist and socialist writing, as a noun, "a capitalist" (1883).

Monday, April 1, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: A - Asinine

Happy Monday morning you intrepid challengers! Today is the official beginning of the 2013 April A to Z Blogging Challenge.

I'm not changing much up from last year, since it was a formula that worked quite well for me, and since I like to focus more on visiting new blogs and meeting new bloggers than I do on my own posts. So, it's unique words and their etmologies again for me this year, starting with A.


as·i·nine [asəˌnīn] adj. - utterly stupid or silly.

Synonyms: fatuous, inane, vacuous, mindless, foolish.

Etymology: c.1600, "obstinate, stupid," from Latin asininus "stupid," literally "like an ass," from asinus "ass," also "dolt, blockhead" (see ass (n.1)). The literal sense in English is recorded from 1620s.

Well that's it! We're off to a great start. Unfortunately, I'm actually out of town this week, so please be sure to visit my assistants:

and let them know if you have any questions, or need any help with the list. You can also contact any of us co-hosts, via the main A to Z Challenge Blog. Enjoy your month!