Saturday, November 8, 2008

Because Obaminate Isn't a Word

I had initially planned for the below word to run next week, when I’d be on the letter “B.” However, in light of recent events it really seems more appropriate for this week. The letter “A” will have to wait.
barrack (BAER-uhk) — verb: to cheer, especially to cheer on a team.
That first syllable should be pronounced like the first syllable in the word barrel. Don’t feel bad if the term is new to you — to Americans, barrack usually refers to the place soldiers live. This definition, however, comes from our rugby-loving friends in Australia in New Zealand. It’s worth noting that barrack also means just the opposite, “to jeer,” in England, but we’ll ignore that for the moment. That’s really all I have to say about the word of the week, other than that this happy coincidence makes me happy.

I can’t take credit for rooting out this one — it came from the curiously named Anu Garg, who dedicated a whole week to words that sound like the names of those on the major presidential tickets this election. Also included on the list was meeken (“to become meek”), bidentate (“having two teeth or teeth-like parts”), obambulate, (“to walk about), and, best of all, palinode, which means “a poem in which an author retracts something said in an earlier poem.” The lovely Girg — who’s or possibly lovely in a masculine way — even gave an example of such a thing: Gelett Burgess, who first wrote the four-line poem “The Purple Cow”…
I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one.
… And then wrote a follow-up of sorts, “Confession: and a Portrait, Too, Upon a Background that I Rue!”
Oh, yes, I wrote “The Purple Cow,”
I’m sorry now I wrote it!
But I can tell you anyhow,
I’ll kill you if you quote it.
Next week: the letter “A,” I promise.

Previous words of the week:


  1. Impressive word list. I want to make out with it.

  2. ...Thanks?

    You should just read it instead. I think you'll get more out of it that way.