A little word-play never hurt anyone … well, almost
This page is carved into three sections: Interesting Words at the top, Jeffinitions below that, and Other Tidbits at the bottom. Interesting Words is populated with just that–words I find unique or interesting and the reasons why. Jeffinitions contains regular words with irregular definitions–sometimes satirical, sometimes political, sometimes just for fun. Sometimes I make up new words or horribly mangle an existing one in this category to make some point or another. Other Tidbits could be just about anything else word-related–anagrams, homonyms, an odd entomology, etc. Enjoy.
Eponym / Eponymous – This is perhaps best understood as naming something after a name. One can do this vaingloriously for oneself, such as Donald Trump—who seems intent on naming every building he develops with the appendage “Trump Tower.” It can also be done to honor, as in the annual Nobel Prize being eponymously named after its benefactor, Alfred Nobel. And it can be used to specify a specific flavor or type of something, such as in Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, as separate and distinct from any other concept of uncertainty you might subscribe to. If you do decide to name something after yourself, to create your own eponym, be careful not to lapse into narcissism (see Solipsism entry below).
Metanoia - What a great word this is! It is used in Philosophy, Psychology, Art, Theology, and Rhetoric, so it is worth exploring if you are a word-wonk like I am. It stems from the Greek roots “meta” (beyond or after) and “noeo” (mind, perception, awareness, understanding). In Theology the term is applied to the concept of repentance, as in turning or completely changing your direction in life, usually via a conversion experience. In Psychology it refers to a complete psychological break down and subsequent rebuilding of psychological structures, often through an emotionally traumatic event. In Philosophy it can mean completely changing one’s thoughts, opinion, or ideas on a serious matter–similarly for Rhetoric. It is used in the arts in Poetry and as titling for music and the visual arts because of the other definitions discussed herein.
It is worth noting that metanoia can be a pleasant and positive experience, but it can also be disruptive to personal identities and relationships. I could expend the analysis, but that is outside the scope of this simple post. Suffice it to say, important concept and very cool word indeed.
Sophist and Sophistry – This word has largely fallen out of use, but I have launched a personal campaign over the last few years to bring it back. It refers to reasoning that can appear valid, but is actually fallacious or deceptive. A sophist uses a sophism to speak or commit sophistry.
Solipsism and Solipsist – I love these words. They are related to “selfishness” and “narcissism” but with a subtle, but important, difference. A Solipsist has no regard for others at all. Sometimes this is generally, sometimes within a specific context. I made up a little story to help myself and others remember the distinction:
“A selfish person, a narcissist, and a solipsist are placed in a room with one delicious chocolate brownie. The selfish person said, ‘I know that you both want to eat this brownie too, but I want it all for myself.’ The narcissist replied, “Well, that doesn’t matter because I deserve the brownie.’ Meanwhile, the solipsism had already eaten the brownie, unaware that anyone might disagree, or was even in the room at all.”
Mnemonic / Mnemonic Device – Something Mnemonic is something designed to help you remember something. In the Solipsism entry above I made up a little story to help me and others distinguish the differences in between related words with subtle differences. This little story is a mnemonic device. Perhaps as a child you learn a song to help you remember the state or capitals or some other bits of information. This is the same thing.
Skeuomorph – A very cool word indeed. It refers to design elements that we retain in application, even though the utilitarian use of those elements has long vanished. This includes things like the sound of a ringing bell for telephones that have long gone digital, spoke hubcaps on cars that now have solid wheels, and the handed-face of clocks on our smartphones. Once you understand the term, you will see its application almost everywhere. (See Wikipedia for more)
Apophasis – An apophasis is the raising of or calling attention to an issue or topic by saying that you will not discuss it or mention it. This very cool word is perfect for describe some debate tricks and is used by politicians during campaigns. Although usually negative, an apophasis can be self-congratulatory as well.
An negative example might be, “I do not need to point to my opponents past mistakes in order to refute his positions on this important topic.” Or, in a reflective, positive sense, such as, “The amount of money and time I have donated to charity over the years is not the point at all … we need to focus on the issues at hand.” In both cases you can see how the “non-issue” is prominently mentioned without actually discussing it. It assumes facts not evidence, provides an often false sense of nobility on the speaker, and may or may not even be true.
Metonymy and Metalepsis – A metonymy is a word or phrase that has come to be synonymous with something else due to its close, almost intimate, association with that other “thing.” Examples would be “Pentagon” to refer to the military and “Hollywood” to mean the film industry.
A metalepsis, on the other hand, is a word or phrase that has come to be nearly synonymous with or meaning something else where the relationship between them is remote or tenuous at best or where the reference is actually to another reference entirely. This concept can be a little harder to get one’s head around. An example might be the idiom ”hair of the dog.” Now, we use this term to mean taking an alcoholic drink in the morning to help cure a hang-over from drinking the night before … like drinking a Bloody Mary in the morning after an all-night party. In antiquity it referred to the practice and belief that if one was literally bitten by a dog, taking hair from that same dog, burning it, and placing the ash upon the wound it would prevent infection (ewww).
So … by extension it came to infer using more of something to cure/remedy/alleviate some condition directly related to that same something. It becomes a reference to a reference in contemporary usage, and that usage is literally unrelated to the original saying or practice. We do not have to tell the story or give detail, we just say that we are “taking the hair of the dog” and people understand that you are drinking in the morning to cure a hang-over and we are all grateful that it has nothing really to do with burnt dog hair, no matter what your breath smells like.
schizo·phren·ic: 1) a weather map of the Midwest in the Spring, 2) secular humanism, 3) overseas democracy-building
al·gore·rythm: 1) Repeating the same nonsense over and over again in the vain hope that the end result will = true