Monthly Archives: April 2013

Moxie Tonic

Usually I associate ‘moxie’ with the kinds of roles Barbara Stanwyck played in the 1930s – a kind of poignant bravado – gutsy and tough, but perceptibly so, with a touch of regretful awareness underpinning her courage.  In fact, the … Continue reading

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Perplexing Ruminations

Perplex came into use in the 14th century as an adjective, evolved from the Latin ‘per’, as in through, and ‘plexus’, meaning entangled, but there was no original verb form in Latin – just the compound adjective, derived from ‘per’ … Continue reading

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Why Silly Matters

‘Silly Sally’ is a nickname I’ve been assigned since childhood – not only because it is euphonious in its alliterative assonance but, alas, because it’s often true.  Like many words originating in Old English, in this case in gesaelig – … Continue reading

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A Music of Mannequins

mannequin (n.) 1902, “model to display clothes,” from French mannequin (15c.), from Dutch manneken (see manikin). A French form of the same word that yielded manikin – mannequin was used in English in a sense “artificial man” (especially in translations of Hugo). Originally of persons, in a sense where we … Continue reading

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California Chesterfields

“In 1958, essayist Clifton Fadiman pointed out that Northern California is the only place besides England where the word chesterfield is used as a synonym for sofa or couch.”  I’ve spent the last week and half in San Diego, partially for work, partially for the sunshine. I’ve been striving … Continue reading

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Enfilade of Mannequins? Venice

Can I call this an ‘enfilade of mannequins’? The word ‘enfilade’ (below) can also be used in architecture to describe a row of rooms that open each into the other, in a long, continuous interconnection –  enfilade (n.) 1706, from French enfilade, … Continue reading

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Touchstones and Truths

touchstone (n.) late 15c., from touch (v.) + stone (n.). Black quartz, used for testing the quality of gold and silver alloys by the color of the streak made by rubbing them on it. Cf. also basalt. Figurative sense is from 1530s. – Online Etymology Dictionary … Continue reading

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