Monthly Archives: May 2013

Languorous Languidness and Vapors

Blame the heat – we’re having an early bout of simmering, liquid heat that fogs the brain and tires the limbs and makes one both languid and restless at the same time – from Latin ‘languidus’, meaning weak and faint … Continue reading

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Cans of Worms and Bags of Knots

I’ve disappeared for a couple of weeks, having gone down the rabbit hole of starting another book – as sand through the hourglass, so go the days of our sabbatical. ¬† Anyhow, for no particular reason, I’ve been idly ruminating … Continue reading

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Cangiante: Iridescence, Opalescence and Changeability

In Act II of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the Fool says to Orsino: “Now, the melancholy god protect thee, and the tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for thy mind is a very opal” ¬† ‘Changeable taffeta’ evokes the quality … Continue reading

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Citrine, Bittersweet and Rosso Fiorentino

Saffron, marigold, papaya, citrine, bittersweet, tangerine, tangelo, apricot, coral, peach, tearose, persimmon, cinnabar … Aside from Leighton’s ‘Flaming June’ my favourite oranges are those of the Italian Mannerists (which I think I’ve written about before), especially Rosso Fiorentino and Pontormo. … Continue reading

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Of Phosphorescence, Fireflies and Caravaggio

This excites me BECAUSE it is actually related to pigment history. The word ‘phosphorescence’ was not actually invented until the eighteenth century, from the Neo-Latin ‘phosphorus’ (below – from my beloved Online Etymology Dictionary – those people have no idea … Continue reading

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Twitterpated Tautologies

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word ‘twitterpated” was invented for the 1942 film, Bambi – Thumper, Flower and Owl have a conversation about the fact that springtime causes people to behave in strangely inconsistent and senseless ways, all … Continue reading

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Quaqmires and Quahogs

I like this word – I like any word that starts with ‘q’ – ‘quag’ from old English for bog or marsh, plus ‘mire’, perhaps Scandinavian in origin, a bog or marsh, quite literally from Indo-European ‘moss’ for damp. ¬†Interestingly, … Continue reading

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