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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dipthong...

... is the best word in the English language, according to cartoonist (and fellow self-effacingly titled blog writer) Tedd McCagg's Questionable Skills blog. McCagg, in disturbingly meticulous fashion, created a series of tournament-style brackets, one for each letter of the alphabet and then some, to definitively determine that the best word in the English language is one that everybody knows but few people know the meaning of - diphthong. It's the word for two vowels next to each other making one sound - like boink (an early contender for the title of best word itself), by the way.


Personally, I think that McCagg overlooked an important contender when he failed to include eponymous in the E bracket. However, McCagg is far more accomplished than I and therefore much more qualified to judge these things.


Eponyms, as it turns out, are the subject of tonight's post. An eponym (a word which my spell-checker eschews despite allowing eponymous) is a thing that gets its name from the person or critter or place most closely associated with it. For example, the sandwich is named for John Montagu, who was the earl of a place called Sandwich. 
Some cool eponyms, courtesy of Vivian Cook's All in a Word as well as DailyWritingTips.com:

  • volt: named for Alessandro Volta, who invented the battery
  • saxophone: named for Adolphe Sax, who invented it.
  • gerrymandering: a portmanteau of Gerry, for Elbridge Gerry, and salamander. Gerry was a Massachusetts governor accused of remapping voting districts to further his own ends, one of which looked like a salamander. Kinda.
  • Mae West: a type of life jacket that makes it look like you've got big boobs, like actress Mae West's.
  • bowdlerize: this word, meaning to sanitize, gets its name from Thomas Bowdler, who, in 1918 decided to censor Shakespeare to make it appropriate for the kiddies by doing things like changing out, out damned spot to out, out crimson spot. This term, I suspect, will soon be supplanted by the word Disneyfied



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