or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Full Slate

Slate.com certainly is being good to me these days!

A recent piece discusses why why "nuts" means "crazy":

Being nuts on something meant you really liked it, but so did being "crazy on something." It's possible that "nuts" became a synonym for "crazy" because of this similarity.

Just go ahead and read it: I don't have anything to add.


A delightful word showed up in another recent Slate piece:

From the antics Grogan describes, Marley sounds no worse than any other dog that I've ever met. He tears up cushions, sofas, and door jambs. He plotzes during thunderstorms.

I do love the word "plotz". It arrives, naturally, from Yiddish; with only a couple of oddball exceptions ("chintz", "ditz"), all words in English that end in "-tz" are from Yiddish ("blintz", "putz") or German "("quartz", "blitz"). "Plotz" is one of those words that, within its own little orbit, means almost anything you want it to mean. In the context of the quote above, it means "to go mad from fear", because "plotz" generally means "to explode": from overeating or out of anger, delight ("It's so good, you could plotz!"), fear, astonishment, or, really, any strong emotion. It also, however, means "to collapse" (originally "to faint", again from any strong emotion), so you can just plotz down on the sofa if you're feeling lazy, or plotz from exhaustion. Context is everything.


I think this word was in a Slate article, but I forgot to leave the tab open so I can't find it: but even if it wasn't, let's give them credit for "panoply".

Its usual meaning is "a glorious array", or, more casually, "a broad selection": "a panoply of consumer goods". Looking at it, you can tell it's from the Greek "pan-", "all", plus...what? It resembles "panopticon", but clearly isn't, so what is it?

It turns out the second half is from "hoplon", "armour", and if "hoplon" reminds you of "hoplite" then you may consider yourself well-read, or at least a player of Sid Meier's Civilization computer games. A hoplite is a heavily-armoured soldier of ancient Greece, and his name comes from the armour he wears. A panoply, then, was originally a warrior's full set of armour and weaponry, and isn't that a fascinating source for the modern sense of the word?


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