Thursday, October 26, 2006

Favorite words

Based on a post over at History Hoydens which turned into a post here, someone mentioned their favorite word was now "imperforate". danah boyd named her blog after her favorite word, "apophenia".

You would think that my favorite word would be "phoom" which does not exist in a regular dictionary, but is well-defined in the Urban Dictionary. But it's not my favorite.

My favorite word is "contraindicate". I was introduce to this term by a former housemate, Chris, who was an English major with a Latin minor when we both worked at Logitech's Tech Support. We used it when a first tier support person would be on the verge of recommending a customer reinstall windows because their mouse wouldn't work. "That would be contraindicated." we would say which would confuse them just enough to actually hear a different approach. It was also a nice way for us to say, "that's really stupid" without being lectured to by our managers.

I need to start using it. It's very handy in situations that start off with someone saying, "Hey guys, check this out...." I can stand there with my gin and tonic in hand and say, "Attempting to catch an arrow after drinking a case of PBR would be contraindicated."

After reading "The Life and Works of Guilhelmus Fabricius Hildanus (1560–1634)" Parts one and two, I have a new word to add to my list of favorites: "exarticulate". Not the definition involving one-jointed insect legs, but the one meaning to remove at the joint.

Many people balk at the thought of an amputation without anesthesia, but I know that surgeons of the 16th/17thC worked hard to reduce the pain involved mainly by applying enough pressure to stop blood and pinch nerve (providing some local anesthetic effect) and working as quickly as they could. However, the idea of a 16thC surgeon taking the time to separate the connecting tissue around the bones in the wrist or a knee is new to me. To have that procedure summed up in one word is even better: ex-ar-tic-u-late.

Sadly, the Oxford English Dictionary shows it being written first in 1658 so I can't use it prior to that. But I still can't wait to teach this some seventh graders the next time I present in a middle school.

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