Words of the Day: Boycott, Brillig, Buddha

My old blog, the Word of the Day, is defunct, and I’m getting ready to take it down. Before I do, though, I’m going to repost some of the best words here over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Boycott

abyssBoycott is an eponym, a word derived from the name of a person. In this case the unlucky individual was Captain Charles Boycott, who was an English landholder in Ireland in 1880. He owned many, many square miles of Ireland, but didn’t live anywhere near his holdings, and charged exorbitant rent to the Irish families that had been living on that land for thousands of years. In September of 1880, shortly before the harvest was due to be gathered, many of his tenants demanded that he lower their rents; but instead of doing so, he expelled them. In return, the Irish Land League, a union of farmers and other concerned citizens, organized a boycott of Boycott: no one was to do any business of any kind with him. He was completely ignored by his workers, his personal servants, local businessmen, and the post office. He could not buy anything from shops, and people would not even sit near him in church.

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The Great Bear II: Trapped in the Earth; Bearing a Ring

Early in the spring of 2010, when I was having considerable trouble with both my health and my finances, I tried meditating to get a message about what the root of my problems were.  I often have difficulty meditating on these topics, perhaps because I am so “close” to them — I feel like I may have some serious blocks or false ideas or strong attachments that prevent me from getting a clear signal.  When I talk to Apollo or my anima about these things, I often get silence, or cryptic answers that make no sense.

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Words of the Day: Blue, Book, Bound

My old blog, the Word of the Day, is defunct, and I’m getting ready to take it down. Before I do, though, I’m going to repost some of the best words here over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Blue

abyssFrom Proto Indo European bhlewas, meaning “light colored”, applicable to anything from yellow to light gray to pale blue. In Proto Germanic this became bluwaz, and descended into Frankish as blao and Old French as bleu; this was borrowed as bleu or blwe in Middle English (when spelling was a creative art). Old English already had a perfectly good word for blue — blaw – but the French term was preferred. It’s uncertain exactly when the word changed from meaning “light colored” to “blue”, but color words tend to be slippery in that way — in Scandinavian languages, for example, it came to mean a deep black, while in Middle High German it meant “yellow”.

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The Great Bear I: the Dream, the Trail, and the Second Temple

My spirit guides tend to be very, very polite. They’ll rarely smack me over the head with a message; they’ll usually wait until I ask explicitly for help or direction with something. And sometimes they’re evasive or silent even then — especially if they know I won’t like what they have to say. But if they have something important to communicate, and I’m not tuned in, they’ll coyly slip me hints and synchronicities until I finally wake up and get the message.

The Bear, it turns out, is one of those. She has been dropping me hints and signs for twenty years, and I’ve never picked up on it — until last month.

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Words of the Day: Bewilder, Bizarre, Blog

My old blog, the Word of the Day, is defunct, and I’m getting ready to take it down. Before I do, though, I’m going to repost some of the best words here over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Bewilder

beltane2008Bewilder is a compound word, first attested from around 1680, composed of two archaic elements:

Be- is an old prefix; it also appears in bewitch, bespatter, behead, etc. The prefix originally meant “about” (it is related to by), but became (there it is again!) a general purpose prefix that slightly alters the meaning of the word that it’s attached to.

Wilder is also an old word. It’s probably a backformation from wilderness: the element wilder, which originally was an adjective meaning “wild, savage”, was reinterpreted to be a verb meaning “to make wild; lead astray”.

In bewilder, be- is acting as an intesifier: you’re not just being wildered, you’re being bewildered.

In bewilderment, the Latinate suffix –ment changes the verb into a noun indicating the end state.

Wilder starts out with the force of will (”w”), the energy of which is wound up tightly and tensely (short “i”), and fills the space (”l”) of a doorway or decision (”d”), and pumped with power (”r”). The overall impression is that of a will that is energized, but also paralyzed by indecision. The be- prefix indicates a sudden onset with high energy.

Thanks to Ali for suggesting this word of the day!

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Words of the Day: Arda, Assassin, Beauty

My old blog, the Word of the Day, is defunct, and I’m getting ready to take it down. Before I do, though, I’m going to repost some of the best words here over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Arda

futureneopaganismiiIn Tolkien’s cosmology, Arda means the Earth, as well as the sun and the moon and the stars. It is not , all which is, because it does not include the realms of the Ainur (angelic/godlike beings) and Eru, the One. In the beginning times, Arda was flat, and there were no heavenly bodies. All was dark, until Aulë the Smith created the Two Lamps to provide light. At that time, Arda became green with growing things. After the Two Lamps were cast down by the treachery of Melkor, Arda was plunged into darkness; but after many ages, first the stars, and then the sun and moon were placed in the sky. During the great war in which Melkor was captured and chained, Arda was broken and curved into a sphere, as it is today.

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