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Thoughts on writing and publishing, and the various sources of entertainment...
A weekly column by Abel G. Peña, best known for his Star Wars work.

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THE PHILODOXER for 09/24/2006
An Amphigory of Cacology and Other Indulgences

I present to you the most prodigious thing to happen to the English dictionary since Samuel Johnson invented it. Eugene Ehrlich's Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate is great fun for the whole family! Kids, you can outsmart your parents when you reveal to them that cacology and jactation have nothing to do with that business you do in the bathroom ("That's feculent, Mom")!

Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate

The Highly Selective Dictionary is an especially entertaining read if you're a logophile or have an interest in languages, but that's definitely not a requirement. It's interesting just to learn some of the strange things and activities that have been judged important enough to give a name to (like defenestration), or to learn the definition of some of these crazy-sounding words (like titivate).

Anyway, with no further delay, enjoy this selective farrago of diction, A through Z, courtesy of Ehrlich's dictionary.

amphigory (AM-fi-GOR-ee) -- a nonsensical piece of verse or other writing, especially one intended as a parody.

bastinado (BAS-tə-NAH-do) - punishment or torture by beating on the soles of the feet.

cacology (kə-KOL-ə-jee) -- 1. bad choice of words. 2. poor pronunciation.

callipygian (KAL-i-PIJ-ee-ən) -- having shapely buttocks.

defenestration (dee-FEN-ə-STRAY-shən) -- the act of throwing a thing or person out of a window.

eructation (I-ruk-TAY-shən) -- 1. belching. 2. discharge of a volcano.

feculent (FEK-yə-lənt) -- full of dregs or fecal matter; turbid; foul; stinking.

houri (HUUR-ee) -- 1. a beautiful and voluptuous woman. 2. a beautiful virgin provided in paradise for each faithful Muslim.

impecunious (IM-pi-KYOO-nee-əs) -- having little or no money; penniless, needy.

jactation (jak-TAY-shən) -- boasting; bragging

kismet (KIZ-met) -- fate; destiny.

locum tenens (LOH-kəm TEN-inz) -- a temporary substitute, especially for a physician or a member of the clergy.

monomania (MON-ə-MAY-nee-ə) -- an obsession with one idea or interest.

noctambulist (nok-TAM-byə-list) -- a sleepwalker; a somnambulist.

ochlocracy (ok-LOK-rə-see) -- mob rule.

pecadillo (PEK-ə-DIL-oh) -- a trivial sin or offense.

quidnunc (KWID-nungk) -- 1. a busybody. 2. a gossip.

raillery (RAY-lə-ree) -- good-humored joking or teasing; banter.

solipsism (SOL-ip-SIZ-əm) -- 1. the philosophical theory that the self is the only knowable, or the only existent, thing. 2. egoistic self absorption.

Tarantism (TA-rən-TIZ-əm) -- a mania characterized by an irresistible urge to dance, popularly and incorrectly supposed to result from the bite of a tarantula.

titivate (TIT-ə-VAYT) -- 1. spruce up. 2. adorn. 3. put the finishing touches to.

ukase (yoo-KAYS) -- 1. an edict of the czarist Russian government. 2. an arbitrary order.

volte-face (volt-FAHS) -- 1. a complete change of one's attitude toward something. 2. a reversal of opinion; a turnabout.

wont (wawnt or wohnt) -- 1. a habit, practice, or custom. 2. (adjective) accustomed.

Xanthippe (ZAN-TIP-ee) -- a shrew, especially a shrewish wife; a scold.

yclept (ee-KLEPT) -- called (by the name of).

Zeitgeist (TSĪT-GĪST) -- the trend of thought and feeling in a period of time.

- Abel

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