Monday, August 9, 2010

A Curse Word That Won’t Offend Anybody

Why? Because I do not doubt that someone out there went to school with stereotypical 80s mean girls named Mallory and Alison, and therefore the knowledge that this word exists might amuse them.
malison (MAL-i-sen) — noun: a curse.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word entered English around 1300 and comes from the Old French maleiçon, meaning the same, and ultimately from the Latin maledictio — literally malus, “bad,” and dicere, “to say,” though in practice referring not so much to mumbling as speaking ill. Compare malison to its equally rare counterpart, benison. Our world malediction comes from the same Latin roots as malison, and I’ll point out that life would be far more interesting if graduation valedictory speeches by the valedictorian were followed by a deserved tirade from a maledictorian chosen from among the worst and least popular students. The Mallorys and Alisons of the word shouldn’t be allowed to graduate without getting taken down a notch.

A random thought on such girls: What the hell possessed American parents in the 80s to make so many of them gave their daughters three-syllable names? In addition to Mallory and Alison, I feel like I was educated alongside an unusually high number of Jennifers, Jessicas, Brittanys, Tiffanys, Melissas, Stephanies, and other such people who regularly had their last initial tacked on just so we could tell them apart. Were they all blinded by the dayglo?

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