18. Pages 139-152
Bill Long 5/4/05
In reviewing these pages today, I would like to do two things: (1) present six or seven words from yesterday; (2) present about 20 new words from pp.139-152, with comments, as well as definitions, on some of the words. Some of the words might lop over into the next essay.
Lingering Words--Collegiate, OED and Century
I hope you like this little detour with words, words that I know how to spell but which have meanings that either I didn't know or I don't want to lose. Berserk, also having the form berserker is, according to the OED, "A wild Norse warrior of great strength and ferocious courage, who fought on the battle-field with a frenzied fury known as the ‘berserker rage’; often a lawless bravo or freebooter. Also fig. and attrib. Now usu. as adj., frenzied, furiously or madly violent; esp. in phr. to go berserk." So a person could be a berserk or could fight in berserk or berserker rage. The word comes from the Norwegian words (I am taking others' authority on this) for "bear" and "shirt." So, I suppose a guy who was in a berserker rage was as if he was clothed in bear's skin.
Let's turn to really light stuff. The Collegiate has the word bitchin', which I now must dutifully learn. What does it mean? (1) slang-- "remarkably bad or detestable." (2) slang--"remarkably good or cool." Don't you just love words that can mean their opposites? Such terms include "sanction" in law or "cleave" or "bar" or "inflammable." 'Bitchin'', like the proverbial "closer" for a baseball team, can go to work every evening and still be useful.
Then we move to bishop, a word trivially easy to spell, but which has two definitions as a verb that I didn't know. (1) "To file and tamper with the teeth of (a horse) so as to make him look young; to improve his appearance by deceptive arts." So, you can bishop a horse, to give it the appearance of youth. I wonder if that could be used to describe what certain people have tried to do to other people.... (2) "To murder by drowning. [From one Bishop who, with a confederate, drowned a boy in Bethnal Green in 1831, in order to sell his body for dissection.]" I knew that men of the cloth have been hard up for funds for centuries, but this is a rather arresting crime, worthy of a word, to be sure.
A fourth word is biserrate, which literally means to have the serrates serrated. It is mostly a term that has been used in botany to describe leaves which are serrated in form but which have serrated ('little saws') sections. Somehow, when i was learning this word I couldn't get Dr. Seuss out of my mind, where he talked about knees on trees and bees on threes or something like that.
Also from botany, and appearing in the OED and Century, is biscutate(d). The Century even has a nice picture of the phenomenon. The word is derived from "bi" (two) and "scuta" (shield) and is used to describe flowers or plants that have two shield-like projections that face each other. It would then be a biscutate flower. "The sunflowers, with their great biscutate faces, reached toward the heavens in the hot August Kansas sun."
Finally, and more quickly, bistournage, derived from the Italian bistornare, meaning to twist or deform by twisting, has the painful meaning of "an operation which consists in twisting the testicles of bulls and other males animals round the cord so as to produce atrophy, but leave the scrotum intact." Enough said?
Getting to the List
Ok. For the remainder of this page, I will list about 20 words from these pages which I need to master. Again, most of them are not difficult; they simply are words that I was not particularly familiar with. A boffin is a scientific expert, a bogle is a goblin, and bohea (bo HE) is a black tea. A boite is a nightclub, a bole (BOL) is a trunk and a bolete (bo LEET) is a fungus. A bolide (BO lide) is a meteor and a bombardon is a tuba. Care should be taken to distinguish between bombe (bam) meaning frozen dessert and bombe (bom BA) meaning outward curving furniture. Then there is a bonne, a French maidservant and a bonze, a Buddhist monk. Make sure you keep them straight, and that you also distinguish the Buddhist monk from a bonzo. A bosquet (bos KET) is a thicket, and a bota, (BO ta) is a leather bottle for wine.
I paused on the word botonee because it was one of the 20 or so drawings of a cross under the entry for CROSS in the Collegiate. We have already met the avellan (filbert) cross, and will meet the formee and fourchee sooner or later, but this one, the botonee, had its three arms ending in three "balls" or, more technically, a trefoil decoration. I found a place online that sells this kind of cross, with our without ferrule, which is the round metallic holder into which the cross is inserted so that it might be put on a pole. Then, to continue, a boubou is an African garment, boudin (bu DAN) is a blood sausage, bougie is a wax candle or (how did they get THIS definition?) suppository, and a bourree is a 17th century French dance. A bouzouki is a Greek stringed instrument, while to bowse something is to haul it by means of tackle. A brail is a drip net while a brassard is a term from armorial theory, and represents a cloth around the upper arm in medieval armor.
This brings us pretty much up to date. I will talk about two or three words form these pages next time. I hope that both our stomachs are still; that they do not suffer from borborygmus, an intestinal rumbling. If they don't, I see lots of good progress being made.
Copyright © 2004-2007 William R. Long