2005 National Spelling Bee X
Bill Long 1/17/07
Let's continue with secondround words. Just when I think I can go quickly, however, it seems that there are reasons to slow down.
1. Word 185 was Epitasis. Care should be taken to differentiate epitasis from epistasis from epistaxis. Epitasis, meaning "stretching out or intensifying," is derived from the Greek word of the same name (though epi means "upon" and teinein means "to stretch"), and is that part of a classic Greek play where the plot thickens or intensifies. Thus, it occurs before the catastrophe (the "downturn"). The Alexandrian grammarians of the Hellenistic era thought that ancient plays consisted of three parts: the protasis (introduction), the epitasis, in which the action begins and develops, and the catastrophe. The catastrophe may also be known as the catastasis, and some quotations I found suggest that by the Renaissance the plays from antiquity were divided into four parts: protasis, epitasis, catastasis and catastrophe. Chambers' 1751 encyclopedia defined the catastasis as "the third part of the antient drama; being that wherein the intrigue is supported, carried on, and heightened till it be ripe for the unravelling in the catastrophe." I wonder when the need arose to come up with a new term and then distinguish between epitasis and catastasis.
Then we have the word epistasis. Its literaral meaning is a "stoppage," and it is derived from ephistanai, meaning "to stop" or "to check." So, a literal stoppage of a blood flow would be an epistasis. But, from the mid-19th century, epistasis took on another meaning--"a pellicle that forms on the surface of urine after it has stood" or, from another dictionary, "a substance swimming on the surface of urine." It is opposed to hypostasis, and we have both used in an 1849 quotation: "It appears from Galen, that in some copies he found epistasis, and in others hypostasis; the one evidently referring to the scum on the surface, and the latter to the sediment..." Of course, hypostasis has a rich meaning in philosophical discourse, but I don't want to go down that road now. Epistaxis, my third term, is bleeding from the nose. "Epistaxis is the most common form of hemorrhage."
So, epitasis, epistasis and epistaxis abide, these three. Which is the greatest of them for thee?
2. Word 186 was grivoiserie. I almost don't know what to do with this word, since it appears neither in the OED nor the Century. The Unabridged defines it as follows: "bold licentious behavior; IMPROPRIETY, an act of impropriety." I don't know why it is unattested other places, unless it is a recent immigrant from France. I think, upon further reflection, that I would like to get to know this word better...
3. Acrocyanosis, word 190, also caught my attention. It is defined as "cyanosis of the extremities," so it might be useful to try to define "cyanosis." From the Century we learn that "cyanosis" comes from kuanosis, the Greek word for "dark-blue." In pathology, cyanosis is a blue or more or less livid color of the surface of the body due to imperfect circulation and oxygenation of the blood. Acro is a very useful Greek prefix, and means the terminal or highest point, the tip, point, extremity or peak. Thus, an acrolith is "stone-tipped", i.e., where the rest of the object is made of something other than stone, while the Acropolis is the "highest city," and something acronychal happens at the point of night-fall. Chambers' Cyclopedia could say in 1751 that "The Acronychal is one of the three poetical risings and settings of the stars; and stands distinguised from Cosmical and Heliacal." I also just learned another new word: acrology. Acrology is the use of a picture of some object to denote the first letter or syllable of the name of that object. For example, the twenty-two names of the Hebrew alphabet are acrologic; that is, the name of each letter begins with that letter. If you really get into this you will learn that a synonym is acrophony. See what great distances we can come from a simple "blue-extremity" situation?
4. Lauan, word 193, is the Philippine name for a light hardwood timber sometimes made into mahogany furniture. It comes from the Tagalog lawaan, if you are beginning a study of that language.
5. Trumeau, word 194, is easily seen in a picture because it is an architectural term. It is a stone pillar in the middle of a two-door entryway to a church, supporting the middle of a tympanum. By the way, the typanum is the pediment with a design above the doorway. One OED quotation (from 1680) talks about "the tympanum or gabal...", and that is the first time I have seen gabal written. Who knows what it is?
6. Chenet, word 197, is absent also from the OED and Century, but appears in the Unabridged to mean an andiron. Well, we see a "dog-like" word behind it, and so I think this is, like grivoiserie, another Frenchman trying to immigrate to America. There are limits, don't you know that?
7. Armitas, word 200, was missed by an Oregonian, Cherish Stafford of Bend. It also is absent from the OED and Century, but is a Spanish word meannig: "ankle-length divided leather aprons tying around waist and knees formerly worn by cowboys." So that is the name of that garment. I never knew that previously. You can buy them in various online stores. Well, this is another recent immigrant to our shores, too.
I am now on the last page of my words (28 more) from round 2. Let's conclude with one.
8. Desman, word 211, is a musk-shrew or musk-rat. More technically, it is the name of two distinct species of acquatic insectivorous mammals of the genus Myogale or Galemys. There are all kinds of pictures of these guys online; I suppose if you really wanted to study them, you could learn lots of more interesting things. But I am going to quit for the night.