Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Word of the day: agita

The word of the day is agita:

  1. heartburn; indigestion.
  2. agitation; anxiety.

"Pacing up and down the block was a tall septuagenarian named Lenny Shiller, from Midwood, Brooklyn.  He was on the set of Steven Spielberg's new movie, 'Bridge of Spies'—about a U.S.-Soviet prisoner swap at the height of the Cold War.  'There's a lot of waiting around on movies,' he said.  'It causes agita.'" 

 - Jonathan Blitzer, "Drive-by", 28 September 2015 The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/09/28/drive-by)

Word of the day: boodle

The word of the day is boodle:

  1. the lot, pack, or crowd
  2. a large quantity of something, especially money
  3. a bribe or other illicit payment, especially to or from a politician; graft.
  4. stolen goods; loot; booty; swag.

"All this was the spoils of war, and as González managed it in the next few months, it all disappeared—to reappear in markets in Mexico City.  Along the way González and most of his staff and subordinates came into the money.  For them the Morelos campaign was a great chance for patriotic boodle, the most irresistible kind.  In cashing in their power, they deprived the Zapatista 'bandits' of precious resources."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Friday, September 18, 2015

Word of the day: piker

The word of the day is piker:

  1. a person who does anything in a contemptibly small or cheap way.
  2. a stingy, tight-fisted person; tightwad.
  3. a person who gambles, speculates, etc., in a small, cautious way.
"miserly person," 1872, formerly "poor migrant to California" (1860), earlier pike (1854), perhaps originally "vagrant who wanders the pike (1)" (which is the notion in Sussex dial. piker "vagrant, tramp, gypsy," 1838), but Barnhart and others say the Amer.Eng. word ultimately is a reference to people from Pike County, Missouri. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/piker)

"'Isn't it nice something isn't silver?  Would you like me to look like Don Pedro?  He makes Clarence King look like a piker, doesn't he?" 

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: martingale

The word of the day is martingale:


  1. Also called standing martingale. part of the tack or harness of a horse, consisting of a strap that fastens to the girth, passes between the forelegs and through a loop in the neckstrap or hame, and fastens to the noseband: used to steady or hold down the horse's head.
  2. Also called running martingale. a similar device that divides at the chest into two branches, each ending in a ring through which the reins pass.
  3. Nautical. a stay for a jib boom or spike bowsprit.
  4. a system of gambling in which the stakes are doubled or otherwise raised after each loss.

"Only the horses remained, in their enormous silver-mounted saddles and their bridles and martingales whose leather was a crust of filigree and rosettes."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: coping

The word of the day is coping:

  1. a finishing or protective course or cap to an exterior masonry wall or the like.
  2. a piece of woodwork having its end shaped to fit together with a molding.
c.1600 as an architectural term, from cope (n.), the cape-like vestment worn by priests (14c.), a variant of cape. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/coping) 

"Then Ysabel sat down on the coping of the tank and smoked a cigarette with the shadows of bamboo leaves flickering over him, but by the time she thought of her sketch pad he had risen and was leading the horses and mules back through the court and under her, out of sight."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Phrase of the day: pig it

The phrase of the day is pig it:

  1. pig it,
    1. to live like a pig, especially in dirt.
    2. to lead a disorganized, makeshift life; live without plan or pattern.

"Leadville roared toward civilization like a runaway train.  Amid talk of an opera house, three mine managers, including Oliver's distant cousin W. S. Ward, were planning houses on Ditch Walk, and hoped to have wives in them before another summer.  The principal boarding-house at its Younger Sons Ball drew social lines as rigid in their way as Newport's.  The best saloons were gorgeous with walnut, crystal, and William Morris wallpapers.  All this was just beginning to fall into place, like the bits of colored glass in a kaleidoscope, when Susan settled down to pig it in her cabin on the ditch."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: quirt

The word of the day is quirt:


  1. a riding whip consisting of a short, stout stock and a lash of braided leather.

verb (used with object)

  1. to strike with a quirt.

"He had been the one delegated to take her riding, and they were down on the Lake Fork of the Arkansas at a place where they must ford.  It was a time of high water, the infant Arkansas was swift and curly.  'Come on, Pricey!' Susan called, and quirted her horse into the water."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Phrase of the day: dog it

The phrase of the day is dog it:
  1. dog it, Informal.
    1. to shirk one's responsibility; loaf on the job.
    2. to retreat, flee, renege, etc.: a sponsor who dogged it when needed most.

"She looked at the horse, spraddle-legged, dull-eyed, with pumping ribs and flaring nostrils, and heard the breath rattle in its throat.

"'Is he sick?'

"'I thought for a while he was just dogging it.  They're not pulling any load to speak of, but look at him heave.'"

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Word of the day: turnstone

The word of the day is turnstone:

  1. any shorebird of the genus Arenaria,characterized by the habit of turningover stones in search of food.
  2. Britishruddy turnstone.

"Over the promontory's furzy top she saw an explosion of turnstones tossed up just above the burst of spray.  They were like sandpipers at the edge of the surf—they lived inches from the water and their feet were never wet."
 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: furze

The word of the day is furze:

  1. gorse.
("evergreen shrub," O.E. fyrs, of unknown origin, with no known connections.)

"Left and right were promontories blackened with mussels and tide plants to high-tide mark, yellow from there to their furzy tops...

"Over the promontory's furzy top she saw an explosion of turnstones tossed up just above the burst of spray."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Monday, September 14, 2015

Word of the day: charivari

The word of the day is charivari:

  1. a mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple.
  2. Informal. an elaborate, noisy celebration.
1843, alteration of charivari (1735), from Fr. charivari, from O.Fr. chalivali "discordant noise made by pots and pans," from L.L. caribaria "a severe headache," from Gk. karebaria "headache," from kare "head" + barys "heavy" (see grave (adj.)). (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/shivaree)

"'There was some talk about a charivari,' Oliver said.  'I gave them money for a couple of barrels of beer.  So now I'm going to take Sue home and barricade the doors."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: pannier

The word of the day is pannier:
  1. a basket, especially a large one, for carrying goods, provisions, etc.
  2. a basket for carrying on a person's back, or one of a pair to be slung across the back of a beast of burden.
  3. a similar type of bag, usually one of a pair, fastened over a bicycle's rear wheel.
  4. (on a dress, skirt, etc.) a puffed arrangement of drapery at the hips.
  5. an oval framework formerly used for distending the skirt of a woman's dress at the hips.
late 13c., "large basket for provisions," from O.Fr. panier, from L. panarium "bread basket," from panis "bread" (see food). (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pannier)

"For three more mornings she awoke in her bare room, breathing air strangely scented and listening to the strange sounds that had awakened her: once the bells of the panadero's burro coming up the trail with loaves sticking out of the panniers on both sides, twice the distant beating of kettles and hullaballoo of voices yelling in a strange tongue—the Chinese arising in their camp under the hill."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: olla

The word of the day is olla:

noun Spanish.

  1. a pot, especially an earthen pot for holding water, cooking, etc.
  2. a stew.

"At the bottom of the box was something heavy which, unwrapped, turned out to be a water jar with something in Spanish written across it...

"There it sits, over on my window sill, ninety-odd years later, without even a nick out of it.  The fan and parasol went quickly, the mat lasted until Leadville and was mourned when it passed, the olla has come through three generations of us, as have the bowie, the spurs, and the six-shooter."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: bombazine

The word of the day is bombazine:
  1. a twill fabric constructed of a silk or rayon warp and worsted filling, often dyed black for mourning wear.
(also bombasine, bambazine), 1550s, from Fr. bombasin (14c.) "cotton cloth," from M.L. bombacinium "silk texture," from L.L. bombycinium, neut. of bombycinius "silken," from bombyx "silk, silkworm," from Gk. bombyx. The post-classical transfer of the word from "silk" to "cotton" may reflect the perceived "silk-like" nature of the fabric, or a waning of familiarity with genuine silk in the European Dark Ages, but cf. bombast. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bombazine)

"There they sat, burning under their serge and bombazine with emotions hotter than gentility could quite allow."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: serge

The word of the day is serge:



  1. a twilled worsted or woolen fabric used especially for clothing.
  2. cotton, rayon, or silk in a twill weave.
1382, from O.Fr. serge, from V.L. *sarica, in M.L. "cloth of wool mixed with silk or linen," from L. serica (vestis) "silken (garment)," from serica, from Gk. serike, fem. of serikos "silken" (see silk). The Fr. word is the source of Ger. sarsche, Dan. sarge, etc. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/serge)

"There they sat, burning under their serge and bombazine with emotions hotter than gentility could quite allow."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: gentian

The word of the day is gentian:
  1. any of several plants of the genera Gentiana, Gentianella, and Gentianopsis, having usually blue, or sometimes yellow, white, or red, flowers, as the fringed gentian of North America, or Gentiana lutea, of Europe. Compare gentian family.
  2. any of various plants resembling the gentian.
  3. the root of G. lutea, or a preparation of it, used as a tonic.
O.E., from L. gentiana, said by Pliny to be named for Gentius, king of ancient Illyria who discovered its properties. This is likely a folk-etymology, but the word may be Illyrian, since the suffix -an frequently occurs in Illyrian words. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gentian)

"It was incorrigibly Hudson River school—brown light, ragged elms, romantic water.  There they sat on the grass confronting nature.  When they had eaten, they did what poets and philosophers did outdoors in the early years of the picturesque—strolled, picked early autumn leaves or late gentians."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: ulster

The word of the day is ulster:

  1. a former province in Ireland, now comprising Northern Ireland and a part of the Republic of Ireland.
  2. a province in N Republic of Ireland. 3123 sq. mi. (8090 sq. km).
  3. Informal. Northern Ireland.
  4. (lowercase) a long, loose, heavy overcoat, originally of Irish frieze, now also of any of various other woolen cloths.
northernmost of the four provinces of Ireland, 14c., from Anglo-Fr. Ulvestre (early 13c.), Anglo-L. Ulvestera (c.1200), corresponding to O.N. Ulfastir, probably from Ir. Ulaidh "men of Ulster" + suffix also found in Leinster, Munster, and perhaps representing Ir. tir "land." (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ulster)

"The meeting had all the dramatics of one of her more romantic drawings—shine of lantern light on the oilskins of the ferryman, a tall figure that jumped ashore carrying a carpetbag.  And what was he wearing?  Some great hooded cloak or ulster that made him look like a figure out of a conspiratorial opera.  The ferryman's lantern threw his huge shadow down the landing...  Then he was before them throwing back the hood, shaking her hand with his big wet hand, saying some sort of greeting and in the same breath apologizing for the ulster—it was his field coat, his town coat was stolen in San Francisco."
 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: epicene

The word of the day is epicene:

  1. belonging to, or partaking of the characteristics of, both sexes:Fashions in clothing are becoming increasingly epicene.
  2. flaccid; feeble; weak: an epicene style of writing.
  3. effeminate; unmasculine.
  4. (of Greek and Latin nouns) of the same gender class regardless of the sex of the being referred to, as Latin vulpēs “fox or vixen” is always grammatically feminine.
  5. Grammar. (of a noun or pronoun) capable of referring to either sex, as attendant, chairperson, Kim, one, or they; having common gender.
mid-15c., originally a grammatical term for nouns that may denote either gender, from L. epicoenus "common," from Gk. epikoinos, from epi- "on" + koinos "common." Extended sense of "characteristic of both sexes" first recorded in English c.1600; that of "effeminate" 1630s. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/epicene)

"In the 1870s he was gentle, thoughtful, amusing, a spirit that glowed through a frail, almost epicene body.  He had come out of the war with wounds that kept him sickly, but he still managed to do the work of three.  His hands were pale and attenuated, his smile was of great sweetness."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: syndicalism

The word of the day is syndicalism:

  1. a form or development of trade unionism, originating in France, that aims at the possession of the means of production and distribution, and ultimately at the control of society, by federated bodies of industrial workers, and that seeks to realize its purposes through general strikes, terrorism, sabotage, etc.
  2. an economic system in which workers own and manage industry.
1907, from Fr. syndicalisme "movement to transfer ownership of means of production and distribution to industrial workers," from syndical "of a labor union," from syndic "chief representative" (see syndic).  (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/syndicalism)

"And recent recruits had tightened their cohesion with a stringent and militant ideology.  The newcomers were metropolitan intellectuals, refugees from the anarcho-syndicalist House of the World Worker, which Huerta had closed in May 1914."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Word of the day: cicatrix

The word of the day is cicatrix:

  1. Physiology. new tissue that forms over a wound and later contracts into a scar.
  2. Botany. a scar left by a fallen leaf, seed, etc.
(1641, from L. cicatrix "a scar," of unknown origin.)

"The water is so hot that it makes the cicatriced stump prickle and smart, but it must be that hot if it is to ease the aches away enough to permit sleep."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: antimacassar

The word of the day is antimacassar:

  1. a small covering, usually ornamental, placed on the backs and arms of upholstered furniture to prevent wear or soiling; a tidy.
coined 1852, from anti- + macassar oil, imported hair tonic from Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The cloth was laid to protect chair and sofa fabric from people leaning their oily heads back against it. Macassar is from native Mangkasara, name of a district on the island. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/antimacassar)

"But it is interesting that, apparently in an attempt to comprehend my present aberration, Rodman should have taken the trouble to read some of Grandmother's stories and look at some magazines containing her drawings.  Characteristically he saw nothing in them.  All full of pious renunciations, he says, everything covered up with Victorian antimacassars.  He cited me her own remark that she wrote from the protected point of view, the woman's point of view, as evidence that she went through her own life from inexperience to inexperience."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: peremptory

The word of the day is peremptory:

  1. leaving no opportunity for denial or refusal; imperative 
  2. imperious or dictatorial.
  3. positive or assertive in speech, tone, manner, etc.
  4. Law.
    1. that precludes or does not admit of debate, question, etc.
    2. decisive or final.
    3. in which a command is absolute and unconditional
"decisive," 1513, legal term, from Anglo-Fr. peremptorie, from M.Fr. peremtoire, from L. peremptorius "destructive, decisive, final," from peremptor "destroyer," from perimpere "destroy, cut off," from per- "away entirely, to destruction" + emere "to take" (see exempt). Of persons or their words, "certain, assured, brooking no debate," 1586. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/peremptory)

"The truth about my son is that despite his good nature, his intelligence, his extensive education, and his bulldozer energy, he is as blunt as a kick in the shins.  He is peremptory even with a doorbell button.  His thumb never inquires whether one is within, and then waits to see.  It pushes, and ten seconds later pushes again, and one second after that goes down on the button and stays there."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Letter to the Baltimore Sun: fact-checking op-ed pieces

The Baltimore Sun posted to their web site a letter I wrote them: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-goldberg-letter-20150909-story.html

There's a pay wall, so I'm posting below the original text (for whatever reason, they revised it).


Dear Baltimore Sun,

I read Jonah Goldberg's op-ed piece in the September 6 edition ("Political correctness and the Wonder Woman lunchbox") with interest.  I thought his analysis was reasonable enough, but did the incident even happen?  The column cites the web site The Mary Sue, which found the story from a post on the social media site Imgur.  I found the original picture online without much trouble: it's a picture of a printed letter that could have been typed and printed by, well, anyone.  What is your fact-checking process for op-ed pieces?  Did you try to get a quote from the family involved, or to identify who they are, or to identify the school, or even the state in which the incident supposedly happened?

I understand I can't believe everything I read on the internet, but I had higher expectations for the Baltimore Sun.

Word of the day: malgré

The word of the day is malgré:


"He sits in with the sitter-inners, he will reform us malgré our teeth, he will make his omelet and be damned to the broken eggs.  Like the Vietnam commander, he will regretfully destroy our village to save it."

 - Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Word of the day: expropriate

The word of the day is expropriate:

  1. to take possession of, especially for public use by the right of eminent domain, thus divesting the title of the private owner
  2. to dispossess (a person) of ownership
  3. to take (something) from another's possession for one's own use

"In public proceedings he declared the generals expropriated, the pueblo entitled to the fields in question, as well as the cooperative's farm machinery, and Francisco Franco guaranteed against political abuse."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Friday, September 11, 2015

Word of the day: truckle

The word of the day is truckle (the verb, this time):  

  1. to submit or yield obsequiously or tamely (usually followed by to )
"give up or submit tamely," 1612, "sleep in a truckle bed" (see truckle (n.)). Meaning "give precedence, assume a submissive position" (1656, implied in truckling) is perhaps in allusion to that type of bed being used by servants and inferiors, or from it simply occupying the lower position. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/truckle)

"In the end neither Deloy nor Córdova nor Aguilar nor Palafox could entice Mendoza to break with the local movement he had soldiered for so long.  If he would not truckle to Magaña, by now one of the clan, much less would he front for Peláez, a perfect outlander."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Word of the day: perdure

The word of the day is perdure:

  1. to continue or last permanently; endure.  

"To 'irredentist Morelenses, to those who perdure in the unhealthy labor of irreducibles,' he made a special call to stop 'their rebel attitude' and cooperate in 'the reconstructive work.'...

"Garbled, obscure, repetitive, and contradictory, Tajonar's manifesto proved a reliable guide to his administration."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Word of the day: irredentist

The word of the day is irredentist:
  1. usually initial capital letter amember of an Italian association thatbecame prominent in 1878,advocating the redemption, or theincorporation into Italy, of certainneighboring regions (Italia irredenta)having primarily Italian population.
  2. member of party in any countryadvocating the acquisition of someregion included in another country byreason of cultural, historical, ethnic,racial, or other ties.
1882, member of It. political party which (after 1878) demanded the annexation of neighboring It.-speaking regions (Trieste, S. Tyrol, Nice, Corsica, etc.), from It. Irredentista, from (Italia) irredenta "unredeemed (Italy)." (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/irredentist)

"To 'irredentist Morelenses, to those who perdure in the unhealthy labor of irreducibles,' he made a special call to stop 'their rebel attitude' and cooperate in 'the reconstructive work.'...

"Garbled, obscure, repetitive, and contradictory, Tajonar's manifesto proved a reliable guide to his administration."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Word of the day: plebiscite

The word of the day is plebiscite:

  1. a direct vote of the qualified voters of a state in regard to some important public question.
  2. the vote by which the people of a political unit determine autonomy or affiliation with another country.
"direct vote of the people," 1860 (originally in ref. to Italian unification), from Fr. plébiscite (1776 in modern sense), from L. plebiscitum "a decree or resolution of the people," from plebs (gen. plebis) "the common people" + scitum "decree," properly neuter pp. of sciscere "to assent, vote for, approve," inchoative of scire "to know" (see science). Used earlier (1533) in a purely Roman historical context. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/plebiscite)

"The manifesto served as a kind of plebiscite among revolutionaries.  Those who signed it set themselves not only against Carranza's false revolutionary government but also against Félix Díaz's false opposition."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Phrase of the day: put on the dog

The phrase of the day is put on the dog:

to ​act as if you are more ​important than you are


"The people there were not mere Catholics but clericalists, who cherished their cathedral and churches not as sanctuaries but as glorious monuments to their own superior unction.  For them religion was less a way of worship than a way of putting on the dog."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Word of the day: neurasthenia

The word of the day is neurasthenia:
  1. Psychiatry. (not in technical use) nervous debility and exhaustion occurring in the absence of objective causes or lesions; nervous exhaustion.

"'His normally taciturn character,' a young headquarters guard later remembered, 'had become dark, crabbed, irascible, somewhat neurasthenic, to the point that even the men of his escort feared him when he called them.'"

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Word of the day: kermess

The word of the day is kermess:

  1. (in the Low Countries) a local, annual outdoor fair or festival.
  2. a similar entertainment, usually for charitable purposes.

"Not all the kermesses he attended in the metropolitan suburbs could comfort him."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Word of the day: de jure

The word of the day is de jure:

  1. by right; according to law (distinguished from de facto ).
1610s, from L. de jure, lit. "of law," thus "legitimate, lawful, by right of law, required by law." (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/de+jure)

"And in the United States the newly elected President Woodrow Wilson have no sign that he would recognize de jure a government that was not even de facto."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Word of the day: fustian

The word of the day is fustian:

  1. a stout fabric of cotton and flax.
  2. a fabric of stout twilled cotton or of cotton and low-quality wool, with a short nap or pile.
  3. inflated or turgid language in writing or speaking
"thick cotton cloth," c.1200, from O.Fr. fustaigne, from M.L. fustaneum, probably from L. fustis "staff, stick of wood," probably a loan-translation of Gk. xylina lina "linens of wood" (i.e. "cotton"), but the M.L. word is also derived from Fostat, town near Cairo where this cloth was manufactured. Figurative sense of "pompous, inflated language" first recorded c.1590. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fustian)

"As the Carrancistas drove into the Zapatista capital, it seemed that the local revolution had failed completely, that the villagers' efforts to carry out their own changes had been a profound mistake and that only on dictation from Mexico City could reform occur and last in Morelos.  If so, the idea of a popular revolution was a delusion.  If so, the Plan de Ayala was mere rural fustian, and Zapata not an insightful leader but simply a brave and angry clod."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the American Revolution

Word of the day: suborn

The word of the day is suborn:
  1. to bribe or induce (someone) unlawfully or secretly to perform some misdeed or to commit a crime.
  2. Law.
    1. to induce (a person, especially a witness) to give false testimony.
    2. to obtain (false testimony) from a witness.
"to procure by bribery, to lure (someone) to commit a crime," 1528 (implied in subornation), from M.Fr. suborner (13c.), from L. subornare "suborn," originally "equip," from sub "under, secretly" + ornare "equip," related to ordo "order." (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/suborn)

"On February 20 Zapata authorized Pacheco to communicate secretly with General Pablo González, who commanded the Constitutionalist forces at La Cima.  What Zapata intended—to initiate peace talks, arrange a local truce, or suborn González—remains unclear, though it was probably the last."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Monday, September 07, 2015

Word of the day: homburg

The word of the day is homburg

type of soft felt had with a curled brim and a dented crown, 1894, from Homburg, resort town in Prussia, where it was first made. Introduced to England by Edward VII. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/homburg)

"The nearest that gay blades in Homburgs and ladies with boas were spotted was in Amecameca, a rail junction across the line in Mexico State; there a mob lynched one smart couple."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Word of the day: blade

The word of the day is blade:

  1. a dashing, swaggering, or jaunty young man: a gay blade from the nearby city.
O.E. blæd "a leaf," but also "a leaf-like part" (of spade, oar, etc.), from P.Gmc. *bladaz (cf. O.Fris. bled "leaf," Ger. blatt, O.N. blað),from PIE *bhle-to-, suffixed form (p.p.) of *bhel- (3) "to thrive, bloom," possibly identical with *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell" (see bole). Extended in M.E. to shoulders (c.1300) and swords (early 14c.). The modern use in reference to grass may be a M.E. revival, by influence of O.Fr. bled "corn, wheat" (11c., perhaps from Germanic). The cognate in Ger., blatt, is the general word for "leaf;" laub is used collectively as "foliage." O.N. blað was used in reference to herbs and plants, lauf in reference to trees. This might have been the original distinction in O.E., too. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/blade)

"The nearest that gay blades in Homburgs and ladies with boas were spotted was in Amecameca, a rail junction across the line in Mexico State; there a mob lynched one smart couple."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Word of the day: nabob

The word of the day is nabob:

  1. any very wealthy, influential, or powerful person.
  2. Also, nawab. a person, especially a European, who has made a large fortune in India or another country of the East.
1612, "deputy governor in Mogul Empire," Anglo-Indian, from Hindi nabab, from Arabic nuwwab, honorific pl. of na'ib "viceroy, deputy," from base n-w-b "to take someone's place." Also used of Europeans who came home from India having made a fortune there, hence "very rich man" (1764). (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nabob)

"The devotees of refined culture had long since left for the metropolis, some in terror, others in exultation...  The only old nabob still in the state was de la Torre y Mier, released from the Mexico City penitentiary but kept out of pocket and under house arrest in Cuautla."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Word of the day: truck farm

The word of the day is truck farm:
  1. a farm for the growing of vegetables for the market.

"'If you keep on growing chile peppers, onions, and tomatoes,' he told Villa de Ayala farmers, 'you'll never get out of the state of poverty you've always lived in.  That's why, as I advise you, you have to grow cane...'...

"But most families went on truck farming.  Rather than rehabilitate the hacienda, they obviously preferred to work and trade in foodstuffs that had always seemed the mainstay of the pueblo.  And during the summer they restocked Morelos's district markets with the familiar beans, corn, chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, chile peppers, even chickens." 

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Word of the day: temporize

The word of the day is temporize:

  1. to be indecisive or evasive to gain time or delay acting.
  2. to comply with the time or occasion; yield temporarily or ostensibly to prevailing opinion or circumstances.
  3. to treat or parley so as to gain time (usually followed by with ).
  4. to come to terms (usually followed by with ).
  5. to effect a compromise (usually followed by between ).
1555 (implied in temporizer), from M.Fr. temporiser "to pass one's time, wait one's time" (14c.), from M.L. temporizare "pass time," perhaps via V.L. *temporare "to delay," from L. tempus (gen. temporis) "time." (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/temporize)

"Along the way he learned from an astute agent in the capital of the continuing efforts of old Porfiristas, Felicistas, Huertistas, and ex-federals to insinuate themselves into the revolutionary ranks.  'Today we still have to temporize with these types,' the agent reported three different intriguers saying, 'but soon it'll be another thing.  Ángeles, who is ours, has Villa in his hand.  As for Zapata, who is a savage, it'll be necessary to eliminate him...'"

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Word of the day: abrazo

The word of the day is abrazo:

  1. an embrace, used in greeting someone

"Montaño made a 'hearty speech of welcome,' reported an American agent at the scene, and gave Villa an abrazo."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Word of the day: irremissible

The word of the day is irremissible:

  1. not remissible; unpardonable, as a sin.
  2. unable to be remitted or postponed, as a duty.

"Naturally they do not renounce their beliefs, but one does notice in them the desire even to desert because of the misery they find themselves in; and if they do not do so, it is for the fear they have of being shot by a firing squad, which their chief Zapata would irremissibly do."

 - John Womack quoting Juan Sarabia in Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Friday, September 04, 2015

Word of the day: tumescent

The word of the day is tumescent:

  1. swelling; slightly tumid.
  2. exhibiting or affected with many ideas or emotions; teeming.
  3. pompous and pretentious, especially in the use of language; bombastic. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tumescent)

"During the last months he had developed a consuming itch for command.  His signature, once modest and clear, was now grand and full, tumescent."   

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Word of the day: charros

The word of the day is charros:

  1. a Mexican horseman or cowboy, typically one wearing an elaborate outfit, often with silver decorations, of tight trousers, ruffled shirt, short jacket, and sombrero. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/charros)

"To their discomfort, the Constitutionalists could not tell who was a chief and who was not: except for stray charros, Zapatista leaders dressed like their followers in the sandals and white work clothes all Morelos farmers wore."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution 

Word of the day: cabrón

The word of the day is cabrón:

The word cabrón refers to a cuckold, a man whose wife or girlfriend has been unfaithful without his knowing about it. Although the word also means ‘male goat’ and is inoffensive in that context, when used in slang, it can be extremely insulting or offensive. The word also has several other meaning in current slang.

Although the idea of being cheated on by a woman is uncomfortable for men around the world, it is particularly unpleasant in Latin culture, so the word cabrón should be used with caution, and only when you are very comfortable and confident with it. (http://www.languagerealm.com/spanish/cabron.php)

"The information his secretaries continually gave him about Carranza confirmed him in his notions: there northern First Chief, so went reports, was a thieving, ambitious old cabrón, surrounded by conniving lawyers indifferent to the miseries of common people."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Word of the day: barranca

The word of the day is barranca:

  1. a steep-walled ravine or gorge.
  2. a gully with steep sides; arroyo.

"The state capital was a harder place to take.  A natural fortress standing in broken hills with deep barrancas cutting around it, the city defied all tactics but those of the siege."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

Phrase of the day: kick over the traces

The phrase of the day is kick over the traces:

Break loose from restraint, misbehave. This metaphoric expression alludes to the straps attaching a horse to vehicle, which the animal sometimes gets a leg over in order to kick more freely and thereby refuse to move forward. [Mid-1800s ] (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/kick+over+the+traces)

"In building his army Zapata encountered remarkably few political difficulties.  Already the main chiefs in central and northern Guerrero—Salgado, Díaz, Gómez, and Castillo—had formally recognized the authority of the Zapatista headquarters...  Only in Morelos did chiefs kick their traces.  Mendoza, for instance, evidently resented spending his men and ammunition in diversionary raids."

 - John Womack, Zapata and the Mexican Revolution