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Book Review – The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

The Professor and the MadmanThe Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5+ stars.

Brilliantly constructed.

Written by a true philologist. I do not think this subject could have, or should have been written by anyone else.

An apt quote from the book: “Few are the books that can offer so much please to look at, to touch, to skim, to read” (p. 89). This is one of those books.

Perhaps one of the reasons I’m such a fan of Victorian writing, “…any grand new dictionary ought to be itself a democratic product, a book that demonstrated the primacy of individual freedoms, of the notion that one could use words freely, as one liked, without any hard and fast rules of lexical conduct.” It continues:
“Any such dictionary certainly should not be an absolutist, autocratic project, such as the French had in mind. The English, who had raised eccentricity and poor organization to a high art, and placed the scatterbrain on a pedestal, loathed such middle European things as rules, conventions, and dictatorships. They abhorred the idea of diktats – about the language, for Heaven’s sake! – emanating from some secretive body of unaccountable immortals.”

The Victorian era is my favorite in all ways. After reading this book I feel more literate and educated.

The reading suggestions at the end are also particularly noteworthy.

View all my reviews

Word of the Day: Kakistocracy

It’s frightening, because it’s true.

I can speak from firsthand knowledge that living through 11 presidencies of varying degrees of competence (and the occasional scandal or criminality) gives you some perspective on what we are experiencing today. Norman Ornstein, political scientist and resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has lived through 13 of them. What he sees with the Trump Administration is something so unique it needs a special word to describe it, a word that has been out of popular usage for nearly two centuries. The word is “kakistocracy.”

 kakistocracy (English pronunciation: /kækɪsˈtɑkɹəsi/) is a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens. … It was also used by English author Thomas Love Peacock in 1829, but gained significant usage in the 21st century.

Kakistocracy – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakistocracy

(Continued)

https://m.dailykos.com/stories/2017/10/10/1705723/-The-Atlantic-Confirms-It-We-Are-Living-In-A-Kakistocracy?detail=emaildkre

Word of the Day

A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

mythomania

PRONUNCIATION: (mith-uh-MAY-nee-uh)

MEANING: noun: An abnormal tendency to exaggerate or lie.

ETYMOLOGY: From Greek mythos (myth) + -mania (excessive enthusiasm or craze).

Earliest documented use: 1909.

USAGE: “I humoured him by listening to his stories about all the grandchildren he probably didn’t have. His mythomania, which both terrified and exasperated me, somehow brought us together.” Marie-Renee Lavoie; Mister Roger and Me; Anansi; 2012.

See more usage examples of mythomania in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

Word of the Day: Hebetude | Merriam-Webster

Since my disability due to chronic illness, I often feel hebetudinous. Healthy people tell me to exercise, or even walk, thinking that will help me. It’s difficult to comprehend Exercise Intolerance until you’ve experienced it. Recovery from exertion or falling is worse than being still to begin with and only doing what I can handle, when I can handle it. I only wish my friends could understand why I use a wheelchair outside of the house. 

hebetude

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noun HEB-uh-tood

Definition

: lethargydullness

Did You Know?

Hebetude usually suggests mental dullness, often marked by laziness or torpor. As such, it was a good word for one Queenslander correspondent, who wrote in a letter to the editor of the Weekend Australian of “an epidemic of hebetude among young people who … are placing too great a reliance on electronic devices to do their thinking and remembering.” Hebetude comes from Late Latin hebetudo, which means pretty much the same thing as our word. It is also closely related to the Latin word for “dull,” hebes, which has extended meanings such as “obtuse,” “doltish,” and “stupid.” Other hebe- words in English include hebetudinous (“marked by hebetude”) and hebetate (“to make dull”).

https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day

Word of the Day: Oppugn | Merriam-Webster

Word of the Day : August 17, 2017

oppugn

play

verb uh-PYOON

Definition

1 : to fight against

2 : to call in question

Did You Know?

Oppugn was first recorded in English in the 15th century. It came to Middle English from the Latin verb oppugnare, which in turn derived from the combination of ob-, meaning “against,” and pugnare, meaning “to fight.” Pugnare itself is descended from the same ancient word that gave Latin the word pugnus, meaning “fist.” It’s no surprise, then, that oppugn was adopted into English to refer to fighting against something or someone, either physically (as in “the dictatorship will oppugn all who oppose it”) or verbally (as in “oppugn an argument”). Other descendants of pugnare in English include the equally aggressive pugnaciousimpugnrepugnant, and the rare inexpugnable(“incapable of being subdued or overthrown”).

https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day