I’ve always had an absurd love for words – the odder the better. I rejoice in being able to whip out an underused word or bring a great one back into regular use. Yesterday, I found myself using the word “funereal” at work, and I had a laugh afterward – I couldn’t remember the last time I could have possibly found a reason to say it. It’s these sort of discoveries that are small pleasures in my life.
This weekend has been a chill one for me – which means a lot of reading. The past few weeks have been hectic at best, weekends included, and the next couple will be more of the same. So this weekend, a bit of a break.
I was catching up on my New Yorker this morning and I found myself relishing the few words I had to look up – I let my subscription lapse for a year and a half, and I remember now what it was I missed so much. It’s a great magazine, filled with so much fun knowledge. It somehow manages to be worldly, relevant, and quirky at the same time.
Anyway, I love that feeling of having to look up a word. There were three in this issue: haimish, atrociology, and sabermetrics. I love how all these sound, especially sabermetrics.
Upon researching these three, two were fairly easily definied. Haimish is a Yiddish expression meaning homey, and sabermetrics is the mathematical and statistical analysis of baseball records (fun!). Atrociology, however, was harder to find.
A Google search yields a mere 6 results and a suggestion that you may have been looking for “astrobiology.” One of the six results is, in fact, the article I read the word in. It seems the author invented this word specifically for the article – contextually, it seems to refer to the study of violence over time.
All this brings about the question of what exactly makes a word just that – a word? In order for vocabulary to remain relevant over time, words have to be invented, and not just words to describe products or new inventions. Even words, like atrociology, that seemingly describe an old concept that previously went unnamed. It could even be a portmanteau I suppose – atrocity + ology (the study of) would yield a definition something like what I already said – the study of atrocity. Intriguing, to say the least.
Any other interesting word discoveries lately?