or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Where Is Thy Sting?

Here is a sentence from a Slate review of a video game called Dead Space 2:

He is no space marine fighting off a horde of vespine aliens, but, rather, a humble, pudge-faced engineer making his way through a massive spaceship for initial reasons no grander than repair.

"Vespine." Isn't that a lovely word? I had to look it up!

I shouldn't have had to, but it's 5 in the morning and I'm not firing on all cylinders yet. "Vespine" means "wasplike", from the Latin "vespa", "wasp", and you have certainly heard the word "Vespa" before, because it is the name of a brand of Italian motor scooters, named for their narrow-waisted shape and for the buzzing sound they make.

I think unless you are writing a particularly scholarly piece, you get to use one word per article that will send the majority of readers to their dictionaries. It's good for us! Any more than that, though, and you risk looking pretentious or unreadable.


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