A to Z Challenge 2013

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zumbooruk

The last entry in the A to Z challenge is a really interesting word - Zumbooruk.  It means:

A small cannon carried on the back of a camel

Yes, you read that right.  At some point in time, somebody thought it'd be a good idea to shoot a cannon from a camel's back.  Can you imagine how incredibly hard it must have been to keep that animal still each time you fired a cannonball?  Cannons are fairly loud, and I bet those poor camels were ready to stampede after every shot.  Just goes to show you that we (humans) make some fairly dumb decisions in the pursuit of war and weaponry.

As I finish up this challenge, I have to say it actually was quite a challenge.  I do admit I had to cheat a little near the end (due to illness) but I'm still glad I put up the 26 posts.  Going forward, I don't know if I'll be able to keep up posts every day, but I do think this challenge has reminded me why I started blogging.  It's fun.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts on my word choices, this word in particular, or what you liked best during the month of April.

Y is for Yaffingale

The second to the last word in this A to Z series is Yaffingale, which means:

a green woodpecker

I had no idea there were green woodpeckers.  Maybe it's just me (or the fact that I grew up with a cartoon with a red woodpecker), but the whole oddity of this creature makes it a prime candidate for a sci-fi world.  Maybe you even make it really important that the woodpeckers are green, kind of as a way to pull the reader in.

Another thought I had while thinking about this word is pairing up this and Nightingale.  The names could be used for two opposite factions in a medieval setting.  Or maybe they use the birds as their means of sending messages.  Food for thought anyway.

What do you think of this word?  Any other ideas come to mind?

X is for Xyster

You gotta love kids.  Diseases must since my kids seem to bring home every stomach flu or virus known to man.  I fell off the A to Z wagon unfortunately due to being bedridden for a bit.   That means I will have to cheat a bit and put up the last 3 posts today.

In any event, the first word is Xyster which means:

a surgical instrument for scraping bone

This is a totally cool word, and I absolutely have to use it in a crime or horror story someday.  Just the imagery of scraping bone (especially if it's on a victim rather than a patient) sends chills down my spine.  I can definitely see a place for this word with the right malicious or devious (or potentially insane) character.

Any other cool ideas you can come up with for this word?

Friday, April 27, 2012

W is for Wicket

Today's word is interesting to me because of it's medieval meaning.   The word is Wicket and it means:

a small gate or door;  a grilled or grated window through which business is transacted

What I'm referring to when I say this word has a medieval meaning is the first part of this definition.  This word is for the door that's a part of a larger castle gate.  For example, castles can have a large gate or door and there may be a smaller door inset in it that is designed to let one person through.  This could also be like those single doors that are part of the larger door on a barn.

The second part of the definition is more akin to a banking window (like in the old West).  I didn't really know there was a specific word for it, so I've learned something new today too.  This is another writer's word that could come in handy in a given scene.

Ever had the opportunity to us this word in writing or even conversation?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

V is for Verecund

Though today's word could have been something cool like Vendetta (I loved the movie V for Vendetta btw), I chose a word that aptly describes so many of us writers in social situations.  It is the word Verecund, and it means:

bashful, modest, or shy

I don't know about the rest of you, but it took me some time to get past my introverted habits when it comes to social gatherings.  People that knew me in high school would probably see the difference in who I was compared to who I am now as night and day.  Part of that is a higher level of self-confidence, but sometimes I just have to force myself to deal.

This is another great writer's word.  Used in the right passage, I could definitely see it used effectively to describe a given character.  Who knows, by the time I finish this A to Z, I could have given one of you 26 new tools for your writer's toolbox.

What are your thoughts on this word?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

U is for Unctuous

Today's word is another great writer's word.  It's Unctuous and it means:

slimy, oily, greasy;  offensively suave and smug

The reason this is such a great word is because you can use it to aptly describe a villainous character (or even just one you want to be fairly annoying).  Every time I think of this word, I imagine a politician or lawyer.  Yeah, I am a bit cynical when it comes to those professions.

When I first saw this word though, I mistakenly thought it was referring to a foul odor.  I don't know why, but even now when I look at it, I can see how I could mistake it.  It just looks like it could mean something stinky (and the real definition isn't that far off).

What's your take on this word?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

T is for Tachyon

Okay, today's word is actually only theory, but I like it anyway.   The word is Tachyon and it means:

a hypothetical subatomic particle that always travels faster than the speed of light

This word just screams Sci-Fi.  And of course, if we could ever prove that it actually exists, we'd be light years ahead in our grasp of technology and the world around us (pun intended).  I suppose it could be argued that this word has been used too often, but I still like the sound of it.

Imagine if you made a gun that emitted Tachyons.  Does that mean the victim would be shot before you actually pulled the trigger (since going faster than the speed of light means going backward in time...theoretically of course)?  The ramifications of this type of thing just sends my mind in circles, but I'm loving the implications nonetheless.

What do you think about this word?

Monday, April 23, 2012

S is for Sanguine

Today's word is one of my favorites - Sanguine.  It's one of those words that sounds cool when you say it and it means:

Ruddy; a healthy reddish color; consisting of or relating to blood

From a writer's perspective, this is an awesome resource word.  This is one of those words you can pull out of your toolbox and toss out there to great effect.  It can be used for character description or as a great way to describe the landscape.

When I first encountered this word, I didn't really know what it meant.  I actually remember pulling out the dictionary to look it up (yes I was a geek that way).  I've remembered it ever since.

Can you think of opportunities when this word could be useful?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

R is for Rhumb

The word of the day is Rhumb, which has an interesting meaning:

Any of the points on a mariners compass

I actually didn't know a lot about a mariners compass, so I did some research.  One interesting thing to note is that early mariners compasses had a problem with the magnetized iron wire;  it tended to be attracted to large land masses.  Another interesting fact is that each ship had to keep a magnetized lodestone to re-magnetize the iron wire from time to time since it lost its magnetism periodically.

Just looking at this word, it reminds me of the dance style the Rumba.  Maybe the sailors were doing the Rumba every time they fixed the Rhumb with their lodestone.  Okay, that's silly maybe, but it makes me laugh to think about anyway.

What do you think about this word?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Q is for Quixotic

Now that we're on the letter Q (one of my favorite letters), the first word I thought of was Quixotic, which means:

foolishly impractical, particularly in the pursuit of ideals; marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action

You might say this word describes the hopeless romantic, to the extreme.  In another sense, you could think of someone who is quixotic as being impossibly idealistic.  I thought about why I like this word so much, and aside from the meaning (I don't think any idealistic thinking is foolish, nor is any level of chivalrous action rash), I really like the fact that there's a Q and an X in one word.  It's just cool.

What do you think of this word?  Any other interesting Q words you'd like to share?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

P is for Pharos

I've had to skip a day due to school stuff, but I'll catch up on Sunday.   In any event, today's word is Pharos which means:

A lighthouse or beacon

This is an interesting word to me because it obviously reminds me of Pharaoh, and the meaning isn't that far off either.   Okay, probably only the Pharaoh and his truly loyal subjects believed this meaning.  I'm sure the tons of slaves didn't exactly think of it the same way.   But what interests me is how a name for the office was picked that fits the agenda for that office.

It's interesting - and tragic sometimes - what words are chosen for certain things.  Whole political or religious structures are created and maintained by just the right words.  And those who never really know the origins of words never figure out they're being subjugated for no real reason other than whatever they're told.

Anyway, didn't mean to get all serious on everybody.  What imagery does this word evoke for you? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Orrery

My first choice for an O word would have been Onomatopoeia, but I can see too many people picking that one (and I haven't met anyone yet who hadn't at least heard of the word).  Instead I have chosen a word that is pretty hard to say clearly five times fast, namely Orrery:

A mechanical model of the solar system that allows one to move the various planets around at their correct velocities around the sun

Okay, how many of you sat there trying to say it five times?  It's not that easy, at least to say it intelligibly.  It's a neat word though, and it's a tool I have always thought would be awesome to have in a large scale.  Remember the movie The Dark Crystal?  I loved that huge model Aughra used for their own solar system.  It was so cool looking and I imagined how much fun it'd be to hang out in that room watching it move around.

Any other images this word conjures for anyone?

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Niveous

Today's word is the first one I've chosen specifically because of how cool it would be to use in a written passage.  The word is Niveous and it means:

to be snowy white, to resemble snow

This word just sounds so cool.  You can imagine using it in some descriptive passage, creating the imagery in the reader's mind with just this one word.  Yes, I am aware of the "rule" about using a complex or obscure word when a simple will do.  It's a big no-no.  But c'mon, this word flows easily off the tongue.  Here, let me show you what I mean:

Mekur slipped down the pathway, his bare scaly feet moving in silent rhythm.  His amber eyes took on a grayish hue as they pierced the forest ahead.  Movement in the clearing made him pause, pointed ears straining to verify what his eyes couldn't.  With one hand holding an ash bow, he crept forward ever so slightly.   One younger guarded by at least one adult stamped around nervously, possibly smelling Mekur despite his upwind position.  Or maybe they just sensed the door to oblivion opening, the way an old tiger knows when its time has come.

He nocked a shaft with careful precision, pushing a branch aside to aim.   A shot just beneath the male's single horn would end it.  The mare would be too startled to react, giving him time for the second shot as well.  And the colt...he would taste its flesh tonight over darkened flame.  Their brilliant hue hurt his eyes, but not for much longer.  The beasts startled and the male reared up on hind legs, striking out with ivory hooves in mock battle.  Mekur stumbled blind as they galloped away, a niveous wave of purity and magic.  As he shook off the effects, his mood darkened.  Master would not be pleased.  In fact, it might be he who would be going through that door instead.

Okay, so I made everyone wait a bit before using the word itself, but I guess that's just how my muse works.  Anyone else have thoughts on this cool word?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

M is for Monotroch

Since Saturday was a busy day for me, I am putting up my M post on Sunday.  And today's word is Moulin, which means:

A shaft in a glacier caused by water running down a crack

It just goes to show you that there is a word for everything.  Can you imagine the scientist who came up with this one?  Here they are clambering over the ice and they discover this hole.  Maybe they fell down through the hole and Moulin is the moaning sound they made while they lay at the bottom of the shaft.  Then while they lay there waiting for someone to save them, they had time to watch the water slowly erode the ice more and more.

Okay, it's a bit of a stretch but its as good a guess as any.  Which brings me to another topic.  I often wonder how some words are created.  After all, not all words are based on some linguistic root word from Latin or Greek.  There's probably a reason for most of them, but sometimes I think people just randomly toss some syllables together and there you have it - a new word.

Anyone else have a thought about the word Moulin?

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Luciferous

Today's word is luciferous, which is ironic given its meaning:

Bringing light or insight; illuminating

The religious implications are interesting, since (in the Christian realm) Lucifer is the name of God's nemesis, the deceiver, the one who causes all us lowly humans to behave badly.

Of course, since the United States is often called The Great Satan by certain cultures (or The Great Lucifer in other words), maybe we should consider that a compliment?

I can hear the Satanists chanting everywhere right about now.

"See, we told you.   What we're doing is bringing light to your world.  You just call it darkness.  Yeah, that's it."

Imagine using this word in conversation.  You can of course explain afterwards, but you know they'll be wondering if you draw pentacles on the floor in silver and light black candles after midnight (or whatever it is such people do.  I'm stereotyping here and have no real idea LOL).

So anyone up for a luciferous discussion?

K is for Kuru

Is there a word for an inability to make blogger scheduling work like its supposed to (no comments from the peanut gallery, Rick Daley)?  It's also rather ironic that I'm an IT guy and I can't ever get a scheduled post to actually post correctly.

In any event, here is the post I was supposed to have up yesterday.  Today's (or yesterday's rather) word is Kuru, which means:

A degenerative brain disease that is contracted via cannibalism

Now that is an awesome word IMHO.  Can you imagine the discussion with your doctor if you come up with this particular ailment?

"Dammit, I knew I should have just said no when we were all deciding who would eat Fred."

Of course, its a great form of revenge for people captured in the Polynesian islands.  Muhaha, go ahead and eat me buddy.  You're going to die a slow painful death later!

Sorry for the lateness, I'll put up my L post in just a bit (manually of course).  Any other thoughts on this cool word though?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jansky

J is such a cool letter.  It's the one you might hate to get when playing Scrabble (particularly near the end of the game).  It's just one of those letters that starts some unique and interesting words, such as Jansky:

A unit of strength of radio wave emissions

The definition above is a very basic one, since this measurement actually deals with astronomy and/or astrophysics.  It was named after Karl Guthe Jansky, who was a pioneering US radio astronomer.

Which leads me to another funny thought.  Do radio astronomers act as DJs to the stars?  You know, play a little Motown for the tiny green men on Mars?  I can hear it now:

"Thanks for listening to K-ERTH, your local galactic home for the latest Motown hits.  Before I spin out some Cloud Nine, let's take a call.  K-ERTH, you're on the air."

"Squeeniormoe meeennerirqierngier puweere"

"What's that?  You're coming through a little squeeky and rough?  Oh well, try calling back later.  For the rest of you floating through the stars, make sure you stop by...Cloud Nine with the Temptations..."

Anyway, what does this word remind you of?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Ichnite

Initially I was going to choose Inconceivable for today's post, but everyone knows that word, everyone should know that movie, and it's really only cool if you're shouting it in reference to something that actually is conceivable.

Instead, I give you the word Ichnite:

A fossil that is a footprint

That's right, there's a special word for those dinosaur tracks you found outside your back door.  When I first read this word, I thought of German dynamite.  The ch is hard-sounding and that always reminds me of German words.

I guess another definition could be a night that grosses you out?  Maybe you're referring to waking up next to someone you met via beer goggles and the morning light shows you the truth.

"Oh, what an ichnite.  I shouldn't have let her buy me three more shots of Tequila."  (whispered as you quietly sneak out of the apartment)

Now that I've really taken this word to all time lows, what do you think?  Any other alternative definitions?

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Harbinger

The word Harbinger is one that I previously associated with bad occurrences.  But when I went to verify the definition(s), I found it actually is neither bad nor good:

1.  one that pioneers in or initiates a major change
2.  one that presages or foreshadows what is to come

As you can see, it depends what the person/event is a harbinger of.  The common saying is a harbinger of doom, but you could just as likely be a harbinger of success.

This is just one of those words I like.  I like the way it sounds when I say it.  It even sounds ominous, which it very well could be.

I am the harbinger of more fun words (okay, it doesn't have quite the same impact as harbinger of doom).

What are you a harbinger of?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Gammicism

Today's word is actually very ironic given it's meaning.  The word is Gammicism and it means:

Having difficulty or being unable to pronounce the letters 'g' or 'k'

It's kind of funny that the word starts with the same letter those afflicted by it cannot pronounce.  These type of people have a disability and they can't even name it.

Along similar lines, have you ever thought about how you would describe an orange's color to someone who was born blind or who has never seen the color orange?  Imagine for example, an alien race that only sees in black and white.  What do you say?

"Well, it's....orange..."

Okay, I drifted off track for a moment, but it's just one of things that makes you think.  Just looking at the word Gammicism makes me think of some kind of religious sect that worship nuclear explosions.  Like the mutated humans in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes.  Maybe they were actually followers of a different definition of Gammicism - nuclear missile worship.

Oh, and if you didn't check out yesterday's word, it got a great deal of attention.   Just goes to show you how a slight difference in spelling catches everyone's eye.

So what does this G word make you think of?

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Formication

Did you do a doubletake? In case you're wondering, no that it not a misspelling.  I did not choose an F word dealing with sex.  Today's word is Formication, which means:

The illusion or hallucination of insects crawling under the skin.

Oh yeah, this is definitely a favorite.  If you say it outloud, people around you exclaim, "What did you just say?" in shock or outrage.  Then when you explain, they get creeped out as the imagery this word evokes crawls across their mind.

It's kind of funny when you think about it.  If you think insects are climbing around under your skin, shouldn't you be more worried about what holes you have (that are large enough to let them in and are probably bleeding profusely) instead of worrying about the insects themselves?  Eh, maybe it's one of those moments when sheer panic is acceptable and expected.

Either way, this is a great word. 

Do I dare ask what other F words you people can come up with?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Etymology

In keeping with this month's theme, I had to choose Etymology for E:

The study of origins of words

Not only is it a cool sounding word, it perfectly fits with this theme. 

Although I've never studied Latin or Greek, I've always been interested in languages and Etymology (before I even knew it had a name).  I studied Russian in the military, picked up some German before I went overseas, and I even took a couple of semesters of Japanese in college.

It's interesting to see how many similar words there are in seemingly different cultures.   For example, in Spanish the name for library is biblioteka (transliterated).  In Russian, its bibliotyeka (transliterated).  Only a slight difference in pronunciation for the same word but the cultures are miles apart.

Any other cool E words you can think of?  What about similarly sounding words from different cultures?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Didgeridoo

This may not be an unfamiliar word to many of you, but it's a favorite of mine.  A Didgeridoo is:

An Australian Aboriginal wind instrument in the form of a long wooden tube (traditionally made from a hollow branch)

When I first heard the name, I thought my parents were making it up (something my Dad was fond of doing).  It actually is the name for an instrument that has been around for more than 2000 years, based on cave and rock paintings found in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Another interesting thing to note is that every tribe has their own name for this instrument.  There are in fact 45 recognized names, though I'm sticking with Didgeridoo.

Here's a video of one being played, in case you're unfamiliar with it.

The word almost sounds like a silly cartoon or Dr. Seuss name.  What comes to mind when you hear this word?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C For Chicanery

One of my favorite C words is Chicanery.  If you're unfamiliar with this word, it means:

deception by artful subterfuge

It's one of those interesting words that sounds like what it is (at least in my mind anyway).  It also reminds me of another C word, Chancery.  Ironically this word deals with courts of public record, archives, or high courts (as in Great Britain).  Very ironic, if you ask me.  Of course, I tend to be very cynical when it comes to lawyers and/or judges.

Chicanery (to get back to today's word) seems to me to be one of those words that would fit very well in a spy novel.  Maybe one of James Bond's villains could use it during their final evil speech, just before they leave poor ol' James tied up on a conveyor belt headed for a deadly laser.  In any event, it's a cool word that's not used often enough.

Any other cool C words you know?

Monday, April 2, 2012

B Is For Bronteum

Though it sounds like some kind of obscure element from the period table, bronteum is actually related to music and theater.  It is defined as:

A device used to create the sound of thunder in a musical or dramatic performance (also called a tonitruone).  It is usually a large, thin sheet of metal that reverberates when shaken.

I've always liked things like this, odd objects that give us interesting sounds.  It's kind of like those videos you can see sometimes where someone is creating the sound effects for a movie.

The beginning of the word is the key - Bront.  We get all kinds of cool stuff from that, such as Brontosaurus (the thunder lizard whose scientific name is actually Apatosaurus), brontophobe (that common fear of thunderstorms), and Brontes (one of the Cyclopes in Greek mythology).

Any other interesting B words you can think of?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A to Z Challenge - Antidisestablishmentarianism

As you can see, I'm participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, which means I'll be putting a post up every day during the month of April that corresponds to each letter of the alphabet.  And since I've been extremely lax of late in posting anything, I figure this is a great way to get back into the swing of things.

For the challenge, I've decided on a theme revolving around words in the English language.  Which brings us to today's word - Antidisestablishmentarianism.

It's the longest word in the English language and yet it's made up of a whole bunch of prefixes and suffixes.  The root is establish, everything else is a prefix or a suffix.  The definition is:

The doctrine or political position that opposes the withdrawal of state recognition of an established church.

Or in laymen's terms, it means to be against the separation of church and state.  I love this word, partly because it's so long but partly because you have to work your way through it to really understand what it means.  It's a thinker's word, and I'm always in favor of people thinking more.  Plus I did a research paper on this word in high school so it's always been a word I think of when I think of the letter A.

What other A words can you think of like this?