March 4th, 2011

Fun with the Dictionary

Sometimes I just get these wonderful bolts of connection between words and concepts. I think it’s the upside of sometimes being a little obtuse about things that are obvious. Sometimes a whole series of little obviousnesses elude me for a while, and then build up into this revelation of connectedness–wow! I love how words in English have all these quirky little relationships that probably stem from slang in the 1930s or else migrating tribes in the 1200s, or maybe both. Like, everyone knows one meaning of “cycle” is “to move in circles” and “bi” means “a thing having two” but it’s still fun to think about how “bicycle” means a thing having to things moving in circles. Or maybe you have real hobbies, and don’t find that fun to think about at all.

Here are some more entertaining word connections I have found (all definitions courtesy of my best friend, Canadian Oxford Dictionary)–if you, you know, dig this sort of thing.

catharsis–“1 a release or relieving of emotions…3 Med. purgation
catheternoun Med. a tube for insertion into a body cavity or blood ressel for introducing or removing fluid etc.
cathode raynoun a beam of electrons emitted from the cathode of a high-vacuum tube (RR–the opposite of a cathode being an anode, which does not emit, but instead takes in)

So I looked at the Latin roots, which are all derived from the Greek (well, except “cathode ray,” which I guess is a modern construction), from slightly different roots, but *basically* what I get out of this is that in ancient Greek, the prefix “cath” meant “to get out or emit.” The dictionary isn’t backing me up as strongly as I thought it would, but even if I’m wrong, it’s still a good way to remember which is the cathode and which the anode–it’s the one that’s like catheter that gets things out. Or maybe this never comes up in your life?

Here’s another one:

impertative–1 urgent 2 obligatory 3 commanding, peremptatory
importunetransitive verb solicit (a person) pressingly; beg or demand insistantly
imperiousadjective 1 overbearing, domineering, exacting obedience. 2 urgent, imperative (I’ve actually not heard of that second definition before)

You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

imperialadjective 1 characteristic of an empire or comparable sovereign state. 2a of or characteristic of an emperor or empress b supreme in authority

Yes, that’s right, all forms of pushing people around derive (more or less–some of these come from Latin and others from French, so my theory’s slightly imperfect) from imperialism! Down with empire!


Interestingly, my name is in the CanOx, too, but it’s not that good–it just refers to some other Rebecca who is not me, not a general definition of what a Rebecca is:

RebeccaBible the wife of Isaac, mother of Esau and Jacob (Gen. 24-7)

The other spelling, which I’ve always considered a completely different name, is way better:

Rebekahnoun a member of a women’s social and charitable society allied with the Oddfellows

Now that would be cool!

Maybe in a future post, I can spend some time with my other best friend from America, Webster’s Collegiate.

I seriously don’t know what other people do with their time.

One Response to “Fun with the Dictionary”

  • AMT says:

    you are getting better and better with these last lines.

  • Leave a Reply

So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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