Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day marries YouTube

27Oct Saturday, October 25, 2008 – Quandary

Quandary \KWAHN-duh-ree; -dree\, noun:

A state of difficulty, perplexity, doubt, or uncertainty.

Don . . . told me of the quandary that the authorities were in. Should the ruins be left untouched or should they be reconstructed for a new wave of tourists?
— Benjamin Hopkins, “How to avoid the tourists in Peru”, Times (London), May 6, 2000

The school commissioners . . . were in a quandary over the needful size of an “open-air playground.”
— Jacob A. Riis, The Battle with the Slum

Once or twice as I stood waiting there for things to accomplish themselves, I could not resist an impulse to laugh at my miserable quandary.
— H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau

Quandary is of unknown origin.

Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation for quandary

I find it interesting that the etymology of this word is unknown. It sounds like it has cognates or at least shared ancestors in other languages. But I’m a WordNerd, not an etymologist.

After the last two days, it’s nice to find a decent word again.

Anyone who has ever had to share a laundary facility before will be familiar with this quandary. However, I will say, if it’s in the dryer, that means it’s clean.

Soak, rinse, spin, link.

Best Video Game Ever.


27Oct Friday, October 24, 2008 – Limn

Limn \LIM\, transitive verb:

1. To depict by drawing or painting.
2. To portray in words; to describe.

Oh, yes, I write, as I limn the familiar perfections of his profile, “you look very well.”
— Kimberly Elkins, “What Is Visible”, The Atlantic, March 2003

In telling these people’s stories Mr. Butler draws upon the same gifts of empathy and insight, the same ability to limn an entire life in a couple of pages.
— Michiko Kakutani, “Earthlings May Endanger Your Peaceful Rationality”, New York Times, March 10, 2000

But used faithfully and correctly, language can “limn the actual, imagined and possible lives of its speakers, readers, writers.”
— John Darnton, “In Sweden, Proof of The Power Of Words”, New York Times, December 8, 1993

Limn is from Middle English limnen, alteration of luminen, from enluminen, from Medieval French enluminer, from Late Latin illuminare, “to illuminate,” ultimately from Latin lumen, “light.”

Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation for limn

Ugh! Another cruel word to finish out the work week. Unpleasant. Only one decent one again today. And it’s not even that great if you don’t like surrealistic art.


27Oct Thursday, October 23, 2008 – Plenary

Plenary \PLEE-nuh-ree; PLEN-uh-ree\, adjective:

1. Full in all respects; complete; absolute; as, plenary authority.
2. Fully attended by all qualified members.

Judges like to quote a 1936 Supreme Court opinion that spoke of “the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the Federal Government in the field of international relations.”
— “Like Interpreting the Dreams of Pharaoh”, New York Times, November 6, 1988

Tito called a plenary session of the Central Committee.
— Milovan Djilas, Fall of the New Class

Plenary comes from Late Latin plenarius, from Latin plenus, “full.” It is related to plenty.

Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation for plenary

OK, this was brutal. Plenary is also used, apparently, as a sort of shorthand for opening or closing session or speech, in addition to being some kind of religious holiday, in addition to being part of the name of Plenary Hall in the Phillipines. It was nearly impossible to find a video that wasn’t some boring panel discussion or speech, or, frankly uninteresting. I found one by refining the search to “plenary funny,” a desperation move, for sure – for which there were a mere 8 hits out of 16,000 hits for plenary alone. And one was funny. So, for that, you only get the one video today.

Geeky. Very geeky.

The day the link died … we were singing …

27Oct Tuesday, October 21, 2008 – Synecdoche

Synecdoche \si-NEK-duh-kee\, noun:

a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole or whole for a part or general for the special or vice versa

Photographers had to resort to visual synecdoche, hoping that a small part of the scene — a wailing child, an emaciated mother, a pile of corpses in a freshly dug trench — would suggest the horrors of the whole.
— Paul Gray, Looking At Cataclysms, Time, August 1, 1994

We’re using the part-for-whole type of synecdoche, for instance, when we describe a smart person as a “brain.”
— We Live by the Brand, Hartford Courant, August 9, 1995

By 1388, from Middle Latin synodoche, from Late Latin synecdoche, from Greek synekdokhe, literally “a receiving together or jointly,” from synekdekhesthai “supply a thought or word, take with something else,” from syn- “with” + ek “out” + dekhesthai “to receive,” related to dokein “seem good”.

Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation for synecdoche

Oddly, Dictionary.com used this word two days in a row, so I’ll skip the second day’s usage and move on the the following day’s word. Maybe I should try to post twice as many as usual for this word? Let’s see how that goes.

I love when people use odd words as their user names. It makes my job so much easier!

My Link Fu is Mighty!

This is just kind of a weird Clockwork Orange-like montage of weirdly nostalgic moments from my childhood.

The links, man, the links!

The Internet is full of weird …

“Nevermore,” quoth the Link.

Oobi meets Bollywood meets Shall We Dance. I … I don’t have words …

Do you Lead the link, or does it lead you?

20Oct Monday, October 20, 2008 – Malfeasance

Malfeasance \mal-FEE-zuhn(t)s\, noun:

Wrongdoing, misconduct, or misbehavior, especially by a public official.

But more often than not the same board members who were removed by the chancellor for malfeasance subsequently manage to get reelected in a political process that defies any form of accountability.
— Diane Ravitch and Joseph Viteritti, New Schools for a New Century

Cagney family conjecture was that Grandpop Nelson, with the temper of a dozen Furies, had likely committed some malfeasance in his native town forcing him to change his name when he left.
— John McCabe, Cagney

Malfeasance is derived from Old French malfaisant, present participle of malfaire, “to do evil,” from Latin malefacere, from male, “badly” + facere, “to do.”

Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation for malfeasance

I believe this man to be playing this very tongue-in-cheek, and I’m not sure where he’s going with the 9/11 and reality tv stuff, but his plan sure sounds solid to me… uh, whatever that plan might have been…

Link to the ISSUES, man, the ISSUES!!!

Like a Ninja!

Dumb criminals tried to steal this link!

20Oct Sunday, October 19, 2008 – Bailiwick

Bailiwick \BAY-luh-wik\, noun:

1. A person’s specific area of knowledge, authority, interest, skill, or work.
2. The office or district of a bailiff.

I’ll give it a try, but this is not my bailiwick.
— Sue Grafton, ‘L’ Is for Lawless

He “professed ignorance, as of something outside my bailiwick.”
— Marc Aronson, “Wharton and the House of Scribner: The Novelist as a Pain in the Neck”, New York Times, January 2, 1994

Fund-raising was Cliff’s bailiwick, anyway, and he seemed to have it in hand.
— Curt Sampson, The Masters

Bailiwick comes from Middle English baillifwik, from baillif, “bailiff” (ultimately from Latin bajulus, “porter, carrier”) + wik, “town,” from Old English wic, from Latin vicus, “village.”

Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation for bailiwick

The Bailiwick Theater is a pretty well known theater here in Chicago so that was the bulk of the hits today. Apparently, it is also a popular name with horses. So, mostly my choices are off-beat musicals and horseflesh. You get the offbeat musicals. Sorry about that.

Here’s some bondage and puppets though. For those special folks out there, for whom this is a good combination… I’m looking at you, sir.

Tie that link up!

I did promise you offbeat. Be glad I didn’t choose the one named “Moose Knuckle” by the same group. This one, at least, has a beat you can dance to.

The link is just all right with me!

18Oct Saturday, October 18, 2008 – Alfresco

Alfresco \al-FRES-koh\, adverb:

1. In the open air; outdoors.
2. Taking place or located in the open air; outdoor.

Turner escaped from the entangled politics of London’s art world, where the Royal Academy was marooned in petty disputes, to paint alfresco on the riverbanks.
— Siri Huntoon, “Down by the Riverside”, New York Times, November 7, 1993

Outdoor sitting areas all have LAN connections, so that employees can work alfresco.
— Scott Kirsner, “Digital Competition – Laurie A. Tucker”, Fast Company, December 1999

I sailed past alfresco cafes filled with young people reading the paper, past restaurants doing a thriving brunch business, and ended up dropping down a fairly steep hill to the water yet again, on an obscure street that ended near a big factory.
— Gary Kamiya, “An ode to Sydney”, Salon, September 27, 2000

Alfresco is from the Italian al fresco, “in the fresh (air),” from al, “in the” (a, “to, in” + il, “the”) + fresco, “fresh.”

Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation for alfresco

Get your garden piano funk on!

All aboard the Grand Link Railroad!

There’s nothing like a weird dude in a weird mask singing a weird song. Unfortunately, this is EVERYTHING like a weird dude in a weird mask singing a weird song.

Thelonius Link

17Oct Friday, October 17, 2008 – Expeditious

Expeditious \ek-spuh-DISH-uhs\, adjective:

Characterized by or acting with speed and efficiency.

His problem was to get from Lookout Valley to Chattanooga Valley in the most expeditious way possible.
— Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs

The criminal may of course use some short-term act of violence to ‘terrorize’ his victim, such as waving a gun in the face of a bank clerk during a robbery in order to ensure the clerk’s expeditious compliance.
— Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism

Expeditious is derived from Latin expeditus, “unshackled, unimpeded, ready for action,” from expedire, “to free (one’s feet) from a snare; hence, to get out, to set free, to get ready for action,” from ex-, “out of” + pes, ped-, “foot.”

Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation for expeditious

Maybe if a young Stacey Ferguson had studied her math a little harder between scenes in Kids, Incorporated, she would have come up with this little ditty instead.


Please, won’t you help Ludo? It’s such a good cause!

Bludger the link!

16Oct Thursday, October 16, 2008 – Misprize

Misprize \mis-PRYZ\, transitive verb:

1. To hold in contempt.
2. To undervalue.

I hesitate to appear to misprize my native city, but how can the history of dear, sedate old London town possibly compare to Paris for sheer excitement?
— Alistair Horne, Seven Ages of Paris

Or did he misprize such fidelity and harden his heart against so great a love as hers?
— Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, translated by Guido Waldman

Alternatively, when disagreements are noticed, they may by chance be overemphasized by those who misprize their significance by failing to assess the pressure exerted by economic and institutional factors as opposed to the purely intellectual.
— Ellen Handler Spitz, “Warrant for trespass/ permission to peer”, The Art Bulletin, December 1, 1995

Misprize comes from Middle French mesprisier, from mes-, “amiss, wrong” + prisier, “to appraise.”

Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation for misprize

Wow, tough word today, but they can’t all be winners, I guess. This only generated two hits. If I can’t have funny, I’ll take weird as hell. NSFW language warning. There is a hardcore rap soundtrack to this video with egregious use of the F-bomb and N-word. These kids have way too much time on their hands, and I can’t figure out if they are sincere and quirky, or arch and ironic. Maybe you can tell me.

Have Safe Sex! Misprize Meth! Reject Religion! Adore Animals! Love Links!

This is just angry death metal song. I think they just took 2 months worth of Word of the Day words and strung them together into vague sentences. But the music is rockin’, so enjoy, if that’s your bag.

This link is so upbeat and cheerful!

15Oct Wednesday, October 15, 2008 – Waylay

Waylay \WAY-lay\, transitive verb:

1. To lie in wait for and attack from ambush.
2. To approach or stop (someone) unexpectedly.

When his mother praised certain well-behaved and neatly dressed boys in the village, Jung was filled with hate for them, and would waylay and beat them up.
— Frank McLynn, Carl Gustav Jung

He returned to her night after night, until his brother, Frank, waylaid him one evening outside Harriet’s cabin and beat him bloody.
— Lynne Olson, Freedom’s Daughters

Furious and humiliated, the boy waylaid Martha after school.
— Julian Barnes, England, England

The women, who hold wicker baskets filled with flowers and incense, are out to waylay tourists and to entice them into buying the blooms and scents.
— Jacob Heilbrunn, “Mao More Than Ever”, New Republic, April 21, 1997

Waylay comes from way (from Old English weg) + lay (from Old English lecgan).

Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation for waylay

When considering issues, I don’t know about you, but I always ask myself “Where Stands the Bear?”

Furry link.

You know, there just isn’t enough colonial music these days. Where’s our rebel spirit? Hark, ye and listen to the tale of the Blacksmith of Brandywine!

One if by link, and two if by sea!