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soapstone

Jan. 15th, 2019 | 07:59 am

soapstone (SOHP-stohn) - n., a soft metamorphic rock used for carving.


It's basically metamorphosed talc with a few other minerals (some mix of serpentine, magnetite, dolomite, and calcite). It's soft enough, it often has an almost soapy feel, thus the name. While it gets a patina, it doesn't weather much and its thermal properties make it also good for fireplace lining.

Soapstone
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---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/752121.html
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zibeline

Jan. 14th, 2019 | 08:17 am

zibeline (ZIB-uh-lain, ZIB-uh-leen, ZIB-uh-lin) - n., a thick woolen cloth with a flattened hairy nap; of, relating to, or made from the fur of a sable.


By which you might guess that the fabric was originally made from sable fur, and you'd be right -- nowadays it's more likely mohair, alpaca, or camel hair. Dates to around 1580, from French zibeline, sable, from Middle French, from Italian zibellino, from Old Italian, ultimately of Slavic origin (so akin to Russian sobol'). A sable:

Zibeline curiosity
Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/751799.html
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trooz

Jan. 11th, 2019 | 08:00 am

trooz (TROOZ) - n., (Scot.) trews, trousers.


Trews being close-fitting, tartan trousers -- a traditional Highland dress choice. From either Gaelic triubhas or alteration of earlier trouse, short for trousers -- and that last, frankly, is what I've always assumed.

Trooz for yooz?
Thanks, WikiMedia!

And that wraps up this first installment of words learned from Words With Friends, affectionately known as WTF WWF -- this time focused on Z-words. Back next week with the usual unsorted heap before returning for another installment the week after.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/751442.html
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grosz

Jan. 10th, 2019 | 07:57 am

grosz (GRAWSH) - n., a Polish coin equal to 1/100 of a złoty.


Since POland isn't yet on the Euro, this is a current currency. The word comes (via Polish) from groschen, a coin of the Holy Roman Empire, from Latin [denarius] grossus, thick [penny].

an older 1 grosz coin
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---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/751274.html
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zori

Jan. 9th, 2019 | 07:54 am

I forgot to mention, that this week's installment of WTF WWF are all Z words, which makes them useful to have in your pocket for Scrabble.


zori (ZOR-ee) - n., a flat Japanese sandal, usually made of straw, leather, rubber, or lacquered wood, with a single thong between the first and second toes.


Very similar to flip-flops, and in southeastern US used as another name for flip-flops. Adopted in the early 19th century (first citation is, oddly, from well before Commodore Perry) from Japanese zōri, from Chinese roots currently pronounced in Mandarin cǎo lǚ, grass/straw shoe.

Straw zori with red straps
Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/750850.html
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zoril

Jan. 8th, 2019 | 07:50 am

zoril (ZAWR-il, ZOR-il) - n., a small carnivorous nocturnal African mammal (Ictonyx striatus) resembling a skunk in coloration and habits.


Also called zorille, zorilla, muishond, striped polecat, and African skunk. Said habits including stinking when frightened, but like other polecats, it's more closely related to weasels than other mephitids. Lives mainly in dry and arid places, so savannahs and other open country. Name is from French zorille, from Spanish zorrillo, from zorro, fox, + diminutive suffix.

A zoril, stuffed
Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/750635.html
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zander

Jan. 7th, 2019 | 07:50 am

The thing about the Word With Friends solo mode is that the computer player is not limited by such considerations as how common a word is. Play it a while, and you can learn a lot of obscure vocabulary, especially if you jot down the what-the-heck-is-THAT? ones. So, a theme week -- one I plan to repeat every other week until my list runs out. I call it "WTF WWF" for short.


zander (ZAN-der) - n., a freshwater pike-perch (Sander lucioperca) of central Europe, valued as a food fish.


A close relative of the perch with a few pike-like traits, but otherwise unrelated to those. Likes freshwater lakes and large rivers, but also tolerates brackish waters. We got the name from German, from Low German dialect, origin unknown.

Zander has teeth
Thanks, WikiMedia!

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/750436.html
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cowabunga

Jan. 4th, 2019 | 07:54 am

cowabunga (kow-uh-BUN-gah) - int., an expression of surprise or exuberant approval.


Coined as kowa-bunga by Edward Kean, the writer* of The Howdy Doody Show, shortly after its start in 1947, as one of the phrases that Chief Thunderthud used at the start of his sentences -- all native american characters on the show prepended kowa- or kawa- to words as a sentence-head catch-phrase.

Chief Thunderthud

In the 1950s, surfers adopted "kawabonga!" as a declaration of enthusiasm, changing the pronunciation slightly to "cowabunga!" possibly under the influence of Hawaiian kupaianaha, surprising/wonderful. Use had almost died out but was revived in the mid-1980s by the character Michaelangelo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and subsequently by Bart Simpson, usually while skateboarding.

* He seems to have been the only staff writer for the show's original run.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/750132.html
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paraprosexia / hyperprosexia

Jan. 3rd, 2019 | 07:38 am

paraprosexia (par-uh-proh-SEK-see-uh) - n., the inability to pay attention to any one thing.

hyperprosexia (hai-per-proh-SEK-see-uh) - n., an excessively fixed attention to only one thing.


So complete distraction and hyper-focus, in their severe, neurologically damaged forms -- as in not ADD/ADHD but actual brain trauma states. Coined from Latin prefixes para- / hyper- + Greek prosexis, attention.

---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/749918.html
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spadassinicide

Jan. 2nd, 2019 | 07:45 am

spadassinicide (spad-uh-SI-ni-said) - n., the act of goading someone with weaker swordsmanship into initiating a duel and then killing them; someone who does this.


A way of committing, in places and times where duels are permitted, a legal murder. I'd accuse the internet of making this up, but there are citations to Rafael Sabatini. The root of the coinage is Italian spadaccino, swordsman.

A duel
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---L.

Crossposts: https://prettygoodword.dreamwidth.org/749605.html
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