On reading the Canadian Oxford Dictionary: the letters I through O
Hours, days, and months have passed. Word by word and page by page I am slowly but surely coming for that final entry in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, a very fitting ‘zzz’.
My eyes are red-tinged from effort, my body is in complete physical disrepair, but my vocabulary, well my vocabulary is thriving. Or, I should say, my lexis* is inordinately* opulent*. But being that magniloquent* is just a tad meretricious*.
As you can tell, this post isn’t going to be laconic*.
So far this experience has, ironically, been quite ineffable*. That’s because it is both insipid* and has a certain je ne sais quoi* that is intellectually lucent*. Not to mention it is insuperable* and seemingly interminable*. Ah, but I am one intransigent* son of a gun.
Oh god. I have to stop. I sound like the literati*. That is, I sound like a complete lickspittle*; or, more precisely – a jackass.
I’m just a regular Joe
Really, I am just a regular Joe. My favourite words spanning the entries from I to O aren’t inkhorns like most of the above. They’re words like inkhorn, because it’s a cool sounding word for ‘obscure; literary’. So, it might have a literary definition, but the word itself isn’t really literary. I basically think it just sounds awesome. Same with the word interdigitate. When you hear it you probably start thinking computer programming or coding, but it’s actually ‘interlock like clasped fingers’. I also can’t for the life of me think of anything that interdigitates other than interlocking fingers. So I’ll probably never get to use this word other than to run up to moony-eyed couples holding hands and tell them that they are interdigitating. But I also don’t see them as appreciating the wisdom thus bestowed upon them.
Similarly, I love that the word nimrod means ‘a skilled hunter’ in the second sense. Now anytime I cross paths with someone decked out in camouflage with bright orange vests I can greet them with a cheerful “Hey nimrod!” without risk of being slugged. Well, maybe not, since most people use nimrod in its third sense – that being ‘an inept person’. Another word along these lines, is moon calf, which means ‘a fool; dolt’. And I kind of like it. It has just enough bizarre to it for it to stick out, but not enough to make it ridiculous. Although I’m sure if I raised my voice in anger and called you a moon calf, you’d probably just be more confused than angry since you most likely didn’t know precisely what a moon calf was until a moment ago.
I have also recently discovered an entry that has made it into my all-time top 3 favourites. It’s another fairly basic entry, and yet it’s still so completely awesome. The entry is intestinal fortitude and it means ‘courage, guts’. You have to admit that’s pretty great. ‘Courage’ is almost a buzzword. But to stand up proud and tall and declare that you have the intestinal fortitude to take on anything or anyone – well, that’s somebody I wouldn’t want to mess with. I love it. The phrasing is strong and it seems to pack even more meaning because it isn’t overused.
Now, I have also learned that there is a scientific study for absolutely everything. Really. If you can dream it, you can… well, there’s a scientific study for it. Metrology is ‘the scientific study of measuremen..’ The thing that gets me, is why? Sure there are lots of different types of measurement and it’s a system that needed to be created and developed, but how is it something to be analyzed and researched in and of itself? I can get how there would be science involving the cosmos, but what does someone who studies light-years really do? A light year is about 9.5 trillion kilometers. There. I think I covered it.
Sorry if you’re a metrologist. I mean that. I feel sorry for you. All two of you.
Oh come now, I’m not that overweening. I really don’t mean to offend; I’m just having a little fun while introducing the term overweening into your life as it means ‘arrogant, presumptuous, conceited’. But let’s get back to some more scientific studies. Next up is orthoepy, ‘the scientific study of the correct pronunciations of words’. Again, I understand the teaching of how to properly pronounce words, but to study the correct pronunciations has me slightly baffled. Not quite as much as those poor metrologists, since orthoepy seems a bit like an extension of language and language really is a mysterious beast. You know, it makes sense that I’m reading the dictionary.
Anyways. The one study I can fully get on board with and understand one hundred percent is oenology because that is ’the study of wines’. So pour me a glass and I’ll study it right up to my lips and down the hatch!
Starting a band
I don’t know if it’s because of the matter-of-fact presentation of each word that gives them a bold sound, but there are a lot of top-notch band names sitting in the dictionary and though I’m not musically inclined, I think I might start a band just so my pals and I can have a cool name to go by.
A band name has to pack a serious punch; it has to sound just right. It has to be something like moonquake. Amazing, right? It’s a ‘tremor on the moon’s surface’, but can’t you just see a rock band screaming out “We. Are. Moonquake! Are you ready to rock!?” Next to that we have moonstruck, meaning ‘romantically captivated’ in the first sense and ‘mentally deranged’ in the second. Same thing, right?
Now for the heavy metal folks who aren’t sure if they should call themselves the Dead Kittens (that’s a terrible name) here’s one for you: noctambulist, which is the word for ‘a sleep walker.’ It sounds like it would be more fitting for a cannibal than someone having a snooze, if you didn’t know better. A couple other favourites of mine include kabloona, which is ‘a person who is not Inuit, especially a white person’ and magnum, which in the first sense is ‘a wine bottle of about twice the standard size’. I also liked liquid sunshine, meaning ‘rain’ and mare’s nest, meaning ‘an illusory discovery; a fraud’ in the first sense and ‘a complex situation of muddle’ in the second sense.
Don’t like my picks? Well, I think I’ve done a better job than a few of the bands that actually exist out there. I’m talking about the Noisettes. Sure, it might seem to make sense at first. Bands, music, noise, etc. However, noisette actually means ‘a small round piece of meat’. They might as well be introduced as the beef patties. And that’s nothing compared to the atrocity in band naming that is Incubus, because that is ‘a male demon believed to have sexual intercourse with sleeping women’. I don’t have a witty retort to this, just a slow shaking of my head.
In my quest to complete this monumental task in under a year, I have had to pay the price of falling behind early on. The past few months have been my comeback as I have almost clawed my way out of the 242 page hole I fell into at the height of my shortcomings in the beginning of June. The process hasn’t been easy, to say the least. So I’d like to pass along the most clichéd piece of advice to all of you who are challenging yourselves in some way: honour your commitment. Every time you put something off until tomorrow, there will always be a price to pay. So take it day by day, even if you fall short, you’re better off than never having tried.
If you’d like to keep up-to-date as I work my way through the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, visit my website and follow along.
*Lexis – words, vocabulary
*Inordinate – unusually or disproportionately large; excessive
*Opulent – abundant, profuse
*Magniloquent – grand or grandiose in speech
*Meretricious – showily attractive, but valueless
*Laconic – brief, concise, terse
*Ineffable – unutterable; too great for description in words; indefinable
*Insipid – lacking vigour or interest; dull, boring
*Je ne sais quoi – an indefinite something
*Lucent – shining, luminous
*Insuperable – impossible to surmount
*Interminable – endless, having no prospect of an end 2. Tediously long or habitual
*Literati – educated and intelligent people who produce or are well-versed in literature.
*Lickspittle – a toady