The Steampunk Empire

The Crossroads of the Aether

Dear Ladies & Gentlemen,

I humbly start yet another yarn of comments and opinions, but this time on the topic of words. In addition to priding ourselves on the things we make and the fashions we sport, there are many in this growing community who pride themselves on their mastery of language. It is in this spirit that I propose that we share with each other some delightful words that are most applicable to our somewhat pretentious, but oh so amusing, needs.

I begin the thread with the word Sobriquet. Despite various succinct definitions available on the aetherwaves, I found this rather verbose definition on the infamous Wikipedia to be most satisfying:

"A sobriquet is a nickname or a fancy name, usually a familiar name given by others as distinct from a pseudonym assumed as a disguise, but a nickname which is familiar enough such that it can be used in place of a real name without the need of explanation. This salient characteristic is of sufficient familiarity that the sobriquet can become more familiar than the original name."

What a wonderful word to express our common inclination for renaming oneself (I prefer to ignore the part about the nickname being given rather than assumed). Incidentally it is pronounced: \ˈsō-bri-ˌkā, -ˌket, ˌsō-bri-ˈ\

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You must excuse me, I am not fluent in flowery language. I like speech to be to the point and succinct( another great word). I had a hard in school writing essay style answers, dreadful time writing answers that where more than three senctance long, However my sentance can be atronomicaly long (my longest being one page long... my editor killed me on that one). So I will just give you a list of words that I like very much.

Perambulator ( especially when it is said "dude perambulator"... just really funny)
habadashery is my official favorite word ever period, ever.
thermoscope is another one. ( last time I was sick I was all must consult the thermoscope to see how deeply on deaths door I am.)
Perquisite. It means "attached to an office beyond salary or wages; incidental benefit attaching to employment" (Australian Oxford English Dictionary). In Victorian times it was commonly used for the little extras that household servants were entitled to which would give them additional money to their wages. For instance, the cook had the right to sell used oil, the hall boy could sell the old wine corks to restaurants, and the dairy maid could sell the feathers from chickens that were killed.

It's where we got the word 'perk' from today. I think perquisite is a much nicer sounding term.
The dude at the electronics store the other day showing us LED lights and telling us how he replaced all the LEDs in his PlayStation used the word "plethora". My companion and I were most pleased with the sneaky usage of this word.

And then the bastard ruined the moment by losing The Game.
sadly everytime I hear plethora I think "would you say I have a plethera of pinatas?" from three amigos. the word is forever colored for me... in a good way!
I do so enjoy good words . . . and I am glad to see that you do too . . . well, with the exception of Miss Redfeild.

So today's vocabulary word contribution to this growing dictionary are circumlocution.

"an ambiguous or roundabout figure of speech. In its most basic form, circumlocution is using many words (such as "a tool used for cutting things such as paper and hair") to describe something simple ("scissors")."

. . . and . . equivocation

"the use of circumlocution to deceive others without blatantly lying. For example, if a mother asks her child to clean a throw rug, and the child replies that he will "hang the rug and beat it" instead of saying he will "clean it", he could mean that he will forget about the rug (hang it) and quickly leave (beat it)."
Here are some of my fave words. Many are from the following links, but some are not.

Cartwright (archaic: not in Webster's)
- one who builds wagons and carts. Compare to "wheelwright."

1. a vital, basic, decisive, or pivotal point: The crux of the airship was the cabin..
2. a cross.
3. something that torments by its puzzling nature; a perplexing difficulty.
Furnishings (as in "men's and women's furnishings")
- an article or accessory of dress - usually used in plural

1. a piece of cloth that is left over after the rest has been used or sold.
2. something unusual -- perhaps worthy of collecting. (Like goggles.)

- any of a breed of powerful rugged draft horses that originated in the Perche region of France

- any of various documents used as evidence that the holder or bearer is entitled to receive something (as a fractional share of stock or an allotment of land)


I like words that had special meanings in the 19th Century. "Huckleberry" for instance, as in "Tombstone" when Doc Holliday tells Johnny Ringo "I'll be your huckleberry" had a special meaning. A huckleberry was a special or rare individual skill like "cutting shingles" or blacksmithing. Eventually, it came to mean the person that had the exact set of skills needed for a particular job. So in Doc Holliday's case, he was saying "I'm the right man for this job."

'It's a daisy" is another expression that was only common in the western US for about ten years, between 1875 and 1885. It meant "fresh and new" or sometimes "beautiful" or "perfect." When the first air rifle pellet gun was invented in 1880, the manufacturer fired one and proclaimed, "That's a daisy!" and the Daisy rifle company was born.
Courtesans were at the top of the prostitutional hierarchy- with a courtly, wealthy, or upper-class clientele. They were the upper tier and they had very elegant lifestyles.

They were the mistresses of wealthy men who provided them with anything they could ever want. Many such women lived even more opulently then some of the bourgoisie. Rather than emerging from "the street" and working their way up, many courtesans were of noble birth, most often as bastard offspring of the aristocracy.

A woman of an upper class backgroud would turn to the world of the courtesan for several different reasons. For instance, marriage in the nineteenth century was more of a business deal then an act of true love. This idea was abhorrent to some women and so, not wanting to leave the comfort of their lifestyle would simply turn to a life that would allow them to continue on as they had without the confines of a husband.

Some women chose the life of a courtesan in order to cultivate their minds, as higher education and the pursuit of knowledge was frowned up for ladies. Some of history's most famous courtesans were every bit as brilliant as their male benefactors, and their presence at social gatherings was avidly sought. However, these self-same occasions never included wives or "legitimate" female relations of the men involved.

Despite the fact that courtesans were the favored companions of their male patrons, polite society never acknowledged their presence, and it was rare that their offspring were made "legitimate" by the men who fathered them.

Words, words, words! You have struck the one thing I love the most. Before running off a few (OK, many) of my favorites, let me recommend a book:
"Reading the O.E.D." By Amon Shea. A delightful tale of one man's effort (and subsequent success) to read the entire Oxford English Dictionary. The subtitle is "One man, one year, 21,730 pages." In the book Shea unearths and comments upon some of the great (and not so great) lost but not forgotten treasures of the English language.
A few (OK, too many) of my favorites - in alphabetical order of course:
Acrimonious (very angry)
Begrimed (all dirty)
Befuddled (drunk)
Caliginous (dark and musty)
Compotator (someone you drink with)
Effluvium (that which can be washed away)
Halcyon (happy or care free)
Ignominious (deserving of shame or infamy)
Mellifluous (sweet sounding)
Neophyte (a recent covert or beginner)
Offal *I love this one* (the viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal)
Pugnacious (a quarrelsome or aggressive nature)
Quip (a clever taunting remark)
Rancor (deep seeded ill will)
Tumulus (an ancient grave)
Ubiquitous (very common)
Vapid (lacking briskness or liveliness)
Wanderlust (the urge to explore)
Xanthippe (an "ill-tempered" woman) - on a side note Xanthippe was the wife of Socrates - legend has it she was quite the shrew hence the origin of the word.
Zyxt * one of those words you can know but never use* (second-person singular past tense of the verb "to see")
There are hundreds upon hundreds more but I shall not inundate you with them here.
Being a Registered Nurse, some of my favourite words come from the world of medicine. I like anastamosis - the joining of two tubes, as in bowel surgery, though it could be used when making your next ray gun. I also like globule which, I feel, is a particularly 19th Century word for some reason. I also like it when British English and North American English are confused as in suspenders (British) which mean garter belt over the pond, and braces (British) which are suspenders in the colonies! Also, I like what, to me, are peculiarly American words like fawcet, which a tap over here. It, too, sounds sooo from another age.

Happy word hunting!

My love and sincere best wishes, Bruce, in Northumberland, England.
I oftimes wonder how future generations might view our own euphemisms and peculiar turns of phrase, like, for instance “I stood in line forever…” And so you’re still standing there? Or just a really long time, like, 40 days and 40 nights…

Or when we say, “I liked to have died laughing…” So, it must have been a harrowing experience, and was a near thing to have even survived to tell the tale…

I would comment further, you know, but I’ve got to go see a man about a dog…


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