or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Shine On, You Crazy Diamond

I don't know if you're one of those people for whom certain words have very specific, narrowly defined meanings, but I am. Ages ago I noted that "munch" ought to be limited to crunchy foods (you can munch celery but not applesauce or ice cream), and I still think that. Here's another word that I think is used incorrectly, even though every dictionary in the world might not agree with me:

See, I think that "glisten" is wrong in this context. I don't suppose I could defend it in a court of law, but I think "glisten" specifically refers to things that shine because they are soft and wet, or look as if they are. Eyes glisten with tears, a pond glistens in the moonlight, but a jewel doesn't glisten under any circumstances, even if you hose it down, because it is hard. It may glitter, shimmer, shine, sparkle, gleam, or twinkle, but not glisten.

Some dictionaries are on my side, more or less, saying that, for example, the word means "be shiny, as if wet"; others merely say that it means "to shine with bright reflected light." I couldn't tell you why exactly I think that "glisten" ought to be reserved for things that are 1) wet and 2) soft; something from my distant past, no doubt. But I hold fast to this belief, and don't expect anything will change it. I'm stubborn that way.


Blogger Frank said...

I like "glister." It's really "all that glisters is not gold" in Shakespeare, you know.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 10:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It agree, your idea is brilliant

Friday, December 11, 2009 4:40:00 AM  

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