or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Twisty Faster does conjure up the most wonderful words and phrases, and one of my favourites, used again in today's blog posting, is "obstreperal lobe". How I wish I had one!

"Obstreperous" is an odd-looking word, isn't it? It doesn't seem to be connected to any other English word, at least not one that I can think of.* The first part is cake: "ob-" means "towards" or "against", and it has the function of directing an action, as in "obnoxious" ("injurious towards"), "object" ("to throw against"), and "obfuscate" ("to throw darkness over").

The rest of it, though: isn't that a bafflement? It comes from Latin "strepere", "to make a noise", and so "obstreperous" literally means "raising one's voice against", which accords well with the standard definition of the word, "loudly defiant". It's nice to see that some things don't change at all over the millennia.

*(It isn't, alas, related to "streptococcus" in any way: that gets its first half from Greek "streptos", "twisted", from its shape. The second half is from Greek "kokkos", "berry"--remember what I said yesterday about "k" in Greek?--and so we might guess that the streptococcus bacterium looks like a string of spherules twisted into loops, and this is precisely what it does look like: see?)


Blogger Kate said...

Obstreperous is a great word. It's perfect to describe a four-year-old...

Sunday, October 29, 2006 11:06:00 AM  

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