D is for Dictionary (Mar 2020, 31 pages, total 122 pages)

(2020-04-27 10:54:22) 下一個

About 20 years ago, I became a fan of Malcolm X after watching the 1992 movie
based on his life. I have learnt "A Change Is Gonna Come" from the film and can
still recall many of the dialogues. Only recently, however, I learned (again in fact)
that before becoming Mr. X, Malcolm Little had copied a dictionary word for word
and turned his seven-year prison term into one of the most productive periods in
his life. What an inspiring story! I watched the movie once more just to confirm.

I then read in an exerpt from The Autobiography of Malcolm X (available here)
what he thought after spending one whole day copying the first page of the

    I woke up the next morning, thinking about those words—immensely proud to
    realize that not only had I written so much at one time, but I’d written
    words that I never knew were in the world.

The word "autodidact," which I learned in March, certainly would describe Mr. X.

Confined for a different reason, I have been learning like him. I found that
both the words and the ways the lexicographers define them were educational.
During this period, I also discovered that the best dictionary-reading time for
me is in the morning. Right after the exercises, I would make a cup of coffee.
It would even be better if I get some jazz going.

I think I first saw the word "arbor" in "University of Michigan at Ann Arbor"
when I started applying for American univerisities 24 years ago. The past couple
of months, however, I saw "Arbor Day" and "arboretum" on the neighborhood signs,
and consulted an amature aborist in a library. (I just learnt the words arbor,
arboreal, arboreous, arborist, arborize, and arboretum.)

I could relate to almost every word below. Enjoy.

- archaeopteryx n. An exinct primitive bird of the Jurassic Period, having
  lizard-like characteristics such as teeth and a long bony tail. it may
  represent a transitional form between dinasours and birds.

- arctic tern n. A tern that is noted for its extremely long migrations,
  typically from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back each year.

- ardent spirits. n. Strong alcoholic liquors, such as whiskey or gin.

- arenaceous adj. 1. Resembling, derived from, or containing sand. 2. Growing in
  sandy areas.

- argent, argentic, argentiferous, and Argentina

- argufy v. Chiefly Southern U.S. --tr. To dispute (a point) --intr. To argue
  aimlessly; wrangle.

- argybargy Chiefly British Slang A lively or disputatious discussion.

- Ariadne GM The daughter of Minos and Pasiphae who gave Theseus the thread
  with which he found his way out of the Minotaur's labyrinth.

- armamentorium n. 1. The complete equipment of a physician or medical
  institution, including books, supplies, and instruments. 2. The complete range
  of materials available or used for a task.

- arm candy n. Slang An attractive person who accompanies another to public
  gathering but is not romantically involved with that person.

- armchair adj. Remote from active involvement: armchair warriors in the
  Pentagon; an armchair traveller.

- armpit n. 2. Slang The most miserable or undesirable place in a particular

- arriviste n. 1. A person who has recently attained high position or great
  power but not general acceptance or respect; an upstart. 2. A social climber;
  a bounder.

- arteriosclerosis n. A chronic disease in which thickening, hardening, and loss
  of elasticity of the arterial walls result in impaired blood circulation. It
  develops with aging, and in hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipdermia, and other

- atherosclerosis n. A form of arterios-sclerosis characterized by the
  deposition atheromatous plaques containing cholesteral and lipids on the
  innermost layer of the walls of large and medium-sized arteries.

- arts medicine n. A branch of medicine dealing with the special health needs of
  performers, such as injuries and disorders suffered by musicians from playing
  an instrument.

- ascorbic acid n. A white, crystalline vitamine found in citrus fruits,
  tomatos, potatoes, and leafy green vegetables and used to prvent scurvy. Also
  called Vitamin C.

- asphodel n. 1a. Any of several chiefly Mediterranean plants in the lily
  family, having linear leaves and elongated clusters of white, pink, or yellow
  flowers. 2. In Greek poetry and methology, the flowers of Hades and the dead,
  sacred to Persephone. 3. In early English and French poetry, the daffodil.

- aspic n. A clear jelly typically made of stock and gelatin and used as a glaze
  or garnish or to make a mold of meat, fish, or vegetables.

- ass n. 2. A vain, self-important, silly, or aggressively stupid person.

- aster n. 1. Any of various plants, having radiate flower heads with white,
  pink, or violet rays and usually yellow disk.

- astir adj. 1. Moving about, being in motion. 2. Having gotten out of bed.

- Astor, John Jacob 1763-1848 German-born American fur-trader and capitalist who
  became the wealthiest man of his time in the U.S.

- Astoria A city NW Oregon near the mouth of the Columnbia River. Fort Astoria a
  fur-trading post established by John Aster's Pacific Fur Company, was the
  first permanent American settlement along the pacific coast.

- astraphobic n. An abnormal fear of lightening and thunder.

- asymptote n. A line whose distance to a given curve tends to zero. An
  asymptote may or may not intersect its associated curve.

- atavism n. 1. The reappearnace of a characteristic in an organism after
  several generations of absence, usually caused by the change recombination
  of genes. 2. An individual or a part that exhibits atavism. Also called
  throwback. 3. The return of a trait or reoccurence of previous behavior after
  a period of absence.

- atoll n. A ringlike coral island and reef that nearly or entirely enclose a lagoon.

- atony n. 1. Lack of normal muscle tone. 2. Lack of accent or stress.

- atrabilious also atrabiliar adj. 1. Inclined to melancholy. 2. Having a
  peevish disposition; surly.

- Auckland The largest city of New Zealand, on an isthmus of NW North Island.

- au courant adj. 1. Informed on current affairs; up-to-date. 2. Fully familiar;

- Augean adj. 1. Exceedingly filthy from long neglect. 2. Requiring heroic
  efforts of cleaning or correction: The Augean task of reforming the
  bureaucracy. [After Augeas, legendary Greek king who didn't clean his stables
  for thirty years.]

- augury n. 1. The art, ability, or practice of auguring; divination. 2. A sign
  of something coming; an omen: "The chartist buys when the auguries look
  favorable and sells on bad omens."

- auld lang syne n. The times gone past; the good old days [Scots: auld, old +
  lang, long + syne, since].

- au naturel adj. 1a. Nude b. In a natural state: an au naturel hairstyle. 2.
  Cooked simply.

- aurora australis An aurora that occurs in sourthern region of the earth. Also
  called southern lights [Latin aurora, dawn + australis, southern]
- aurora borealis
- austral adj. Of, relating to, or coming from the south.

- aurous adj. Of or relating to gold [Latin: aurum, gold]

- autophagy n. The process of self-digestion by a cell through the action of
  enzymes originating within the same cell.

- autosuggestion n. Psychology The process by which a person induces
  self-acceptance of an opinion, belief, or plan of action.

- autotomy n. The spontaneous casting off of a limb or other body part, such as
  the tail of certain lizards or the claw of a lobster, especially when the
  organism is injured or under attack.

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閱讀 ()評論 (2)
7grizzly 回複 悄悄話 回複 '暖冬cool夏' 的評論 : Thank you, 暖冬, for reading and sharing your thoughts. Some new words, such as the arbor series, bring pleasant surprises as, once aware, I find them everywhere. Your observations on 'a' as a prefix are spot-on.

I think, however, "arm candy" is not equivalent to "電燈泡" as the latter means, as far as I know, someone whose presence is not entirely welcome by a couple who need more privacy. I wonder if there is an equivalent word in English.

Isn't it wonderful that we now know that Argentina was related to silver which attracted the Spaniards?
暖冬cool夏 回複 悄悄話 Very good to know about the word "Arbor", equivalent to "garden arch". The name Ann Arbor may derive from a famous local garden:))
A letter has a long list. Among your selection, it is interesting to see words beginning with "a" that acts as a prefix, like "atony" (without tone, like atypical, abnormal), "astir" (like ajar, referring to a state). "Armchair" reminds me of "backseat":), and is "arm candy" something like "電燈泡“ in our language:)) ??
Good to know the word "argent" too. I know of a company once named as Argent, but I never really know its meaning. Thanks for sharing.