Posts by: Sara Menuck

Word of the Day: Virago

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(n.); manlike or heroic woman; a woman of extraordinary stature, strength and courage; a domineering, violent or bad-tempered woman “I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture […]

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Word of the Day: Mundificative

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(n.); a cleansing medicine or preparation; (adj.) able to cleanse, especially a wound “Art begins in a wound, an imperfection—a wound inherent in the nature of life itself—and is an attempt either to live with the wound or to heal it.” –John Gardner, Grendel The idea of creative expression as a healing experience has been […]

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Word of the Day: Amphigory

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(n.); a nonsense verse; specifically, a poem designed to look and sound good, but which has no meaning upon closer reading; from the French amphigouri. “Just imagine a typeface that could inspire empathy inherently based on the softness of a letter’s apex or by increasing or decreasing negative space in characters.” –Liz Stinson, “Can Typography […]

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Word of the Day: Quiddity

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(n.); the essence or inherent nature of a person or thing; an eccentricity; an odd feature; a trifle, nicety or quibble; from the Latin quid (“what”) “He was friendly, polite, and deeply interested in even the fine points I raised, and to my astonishment accepted a number of my changes, later saying that he had […]

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Word of the Day: Miasma

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(n.); noxious exhalations from putrid organic matter; poisonous effluvia or germs polluting the atmosphere; a dangerous, foreboding, or deathlike influence or atmosphere “If the Internet is a bridge to the greater world, a troll is the beast who lives under it, extracting a toll in hurt feelings, outraged sensibilities and fear from all who pass.” […]

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Word of the Day: Eschaton

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(n.); the last thing, as a theological reference to the climax of history at Judgment Day; the day at the end of time following Armageddon when God will decree the fates of all human beings; from the ancient Greek eskhatos (“end”) “My mind moves toward apocalypse fictions the way we think about a forgotten friend, […]

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Word of the Day: Esemplasy

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(n.); unification; to make into one; the unifying power of imagination; accredited to Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) “Austen is far from superficial … Her books are intimate and compelling. She has a voice that somehow seems to chime even with a modern sensibility. She is, in essence, timeless.” –Alexander McCaul Smith, from “The Secret of […]

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Word of the Day: Nescient

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(adj.); absence of knowledge or awareness; ignorance; from Late Latin ne (“not”) + sciential (“knowledge”) “Prejudice is the child of ignorance.” –William Hazlitt, from his essay “On Prejudice.” There is any number of cliches to draw upon when describing ignorance. It is bliss; it is strength; it is not a crime; it is the enemy […]

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Word of the Day: Antithalian

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(adj.); opposed to mirth, festivity, or fun “For many of us, these systems provided a foundation for our childhood and opened the door to vast electronic worlds to explore, hack, experiment, and fail within. They taught us how to learn, compete, strategize, think critically, and, through multiplayer games, even socialize. They also taught us another, […]

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Word of the Day: Agacerie

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(n.); allurement, enticement, coquetry; flirtation; from the French agacer (“to tease”) Fictional characters – unlike the messy organisms from which they derive – float free from the sordid contingencies of the body, because, no matter how convincingly they’re portrayed as being embodied, the medium within which they operate is, self-evidently, a mental one. –Will Self, […]

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Word of the Day: Anopisthographic

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(adj.); inscribed only on one side; c. 1870-75 “As literary quarrels go, [Boisrobert’s denunciation of Homer] was a particularly good one, because it wasn’t really about technique but about the quality of ideas, about the relationship between knowledge and innovation, and not least about the value of originality.” —Arthur Krystal, “What We Lose if We […]

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Word of the Day: Ubeity

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(n.); the condition or quality of being in a place, of being located or situated; whereness or ubication; from the Latin ubi (“where”) “I love repetition. I love doing the same thing at the same time and in the same place, day in and day out. I love it because something happens in repetition: Sooner […]

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Word of the Day: Atrabilious

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(adj.); gloomy, morose, or morbid; bad-tempered, irritable; from the Latin agra bili(s) (“black bile”) “Caleb stopped, massaged, then stopped again, as though he felt something under the skin. ‘Too big to be a morphine pump,’ he said cheerfully. At 32 years old, fresh-faced and boyishly handsome, he looks less like an undertaker than like the […]

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Word of the Day: Epimythium

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(n.); the moral appended to the end a story or fable; from the Greek epi (“upon”) + muthos (“story, fable”) “Once upon a time there was a princess who went out into the forest and sat down at the edge of a cool well.” —Excerpt from “The Frog King, or Iron Henry” in Jack Zipes’s Original […]

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Word of the Day: Vaticinate

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(v.);  to prophesy or foretell the future; from the Latin vati– (“seer”) + -cin-, combining form of canere (“to sing, prophesy”) “Louisiana, Louisiana, They’re tryin’ to wash us away. They’re tryin’ to wash us away.” —Randy Newman, from “Louisiana 1927.” Much has been written on the subject of the human race’s fear of the unknown: […]

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