Friday, September 19, 2014

word of the day: futhark

The word of the day is futhark:

n.
1851, historians' name for the Germanic runic alphabet; so called from its first six letters, on the model of alphabet. (dictionary.com)

"But I remember a seed,
a dandelion sphere, which I blew on once, and its
silvery runes poured forward.  It's as if -
until now - I thought that I would never
fade, or fail, or fall silent, or die.
I trusted that I had it coming to me,
without cease, the firework of language.
Futhorc!  Let me cry out, again!"
 
 - Sharon Olds, "Bop after hip op", 11 & 18 August 2014 The New Yorker

Thursday, September 18, 2014

word of the day: panegyric

The word of the day is panegyric:


noun
1. a lofty oration or writing in praise of a person or thing; eulogy.
2. formal or elaborate praise.
< Latin, noun use of panēgyricus of, belonging to a public assembly
< Greek panēgyrikós, equivalent to panḗgyr (is) solemn assembly (pan- + -ēgyris, combining form of ágyris gathering) (dictionary.com)


"One evening, I went to see Aleksandr Prokhanov, a far-right newspaper editor and novelist, whom I've known since the late eighties.  In the Soviet period, he was known as the Nightingale of the General Staff, a writer commissioned to ride and chronicle the glories of nuclear subs and strategic bombers and to visit the Cold War battlefields of Kampuchea and Angola.  He was a panegyrist of Stalin's military-industrial state and the achievements of Sovietism.  'No one,' he told me, 'could describe a nuclear reactor like I could.'"

 - David Remnick, "Watching the eclipse: Ambassador Michael McFaul was there when the promise of democracy came to Russia - and when it began to fade", 11 & 18 August 2014 The New Yorker

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

word of the day: ressentiment

The word of the day is ressentiment:

noun
1. any cautious, defeatist, or cynical attitude based on the belief that the individual and human institutions exist in a hostile or indifferent universe or society.
2. an oppressive awareness of the futility of trying to improve one's status in life or in society.
 
1943, a word from Nietzsche, from German ressentiment, from French ressentiment. The French word also was borrowed as obsolete English resentiment (16c.) "feeling or sense (of something); state of being deeply affected by (something); resentment." (dictionary.com) 
 
 
"Nearly a quarter century after the fall of the empire, Putin has unleashed an ideology of ressentiment.  It has been chorussed by those who, in 1991, despaired of the loss not of Communist ideology but of imperial greatness, and who, ever since, have lived with what Russians so often refer to as 'phantom-limb syndrome': the pain of missing Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Baltic states; the pain of diminishment.  They want revenge for their humiliation."

 - David Remnick, "Watching the eclipse: Ambassador Michael McFaul was there when the promise of democracy came to Russia - and when it began to fade", 11 & 18 August 2014 The New Yorker

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

word of the day: Cheka

The word of the day is Cheka:

early Soviet secret police, 1921, from Russian initials of Chrezvychainaya Komissiya "Extraordinary Commission (for Combating Counter-Revolution);" set up 1917, superseded 1922 by G.P.U. (dictionary.com)


"By the late Soviet period, though, K.G.B. officers like Putin were nearly as dismissive of Communist ideology as the dissidents were.  'The Chekists in his time laughed at official Soviet ideology,' Gleb Pavlovksy, a former adviser to Putin, told me.  'They thought it was a joke.'"

 - David Remnick, "Watching the eclipse: Ambassador Michael McFaul was there when the promise of democracy came to Russia - and when it began to fade", 11 & 18 August 2014 The New Yorker

Monday, September 15, 2014

word of the day: retrench

The word of the day is retrench:

verb (used without object)
to economize; reduce expenses (dictionary.com)

"For Barack Obama, it is essential to end those two wars [Iraq and Afghanistan] and this retrenchment is in the national interest."

 - Michael McFaul, as quoted by David Remnick, "Watching the eclipse: Ambassador Michael McFaul was there when the promise of democracy came to Russia - and when it began to fade", 11 & 18 August 2014 The New Yorker

Sunday, September 14, 2014

word of the day: knout

The word of the day is knout:

noun
a stout whip used formerly in Russia as an instrument of punishment
from Russian knut, of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse knūtr knot (dictionary.com)
 
 
"He was determined to help establish liberal values and institutions - civil society, free speech, democratic norms - in a land that, for a thousand years, had known only absolutism, empire, and the knout.  'That's me,' he says even now.  'Mr. Anti-Cynicism.  Mr. It Will All Work Out.'"
 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

word of the day: capo

The word of the day is capo:

noun
1. the presumed title of a Mafia leader
Italian: head (dictionary.com)


"Apparently, no one in Washington during that period found anything unusual about a Mafia capo openly discussing 'the needs of the family where government is concerned' and suggesting 'favorable business investments' for the politicians and regulators whom he was lobbying."

 - Malcolm Gladwell, "The crooked ladder: the criminal's guide to upward mobility", 11 & 18 August 2014 The New Yorker