Reconciling assholes for nearly a decade.

Wrong-impression words

bucolic
adj.

  1. Of or characteristic of the countryside or its people; rustic. See synonyms at rural.
  2. Of or characteristic of shepherds or flocks; pastoral.

n.

  1. A pastoral poem.
  2. A farmer or shepherd; a rustic.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
March 17th, 2005
And Bucolic produces a wrong impression?

Like somebody who drinks too much 'Bucs'?
Permalink AllanL5 
March 17th, 2005
From the article linked in the post following this one (timewise).

"One could imagine Kennedy reading on that bench in Hampstead Heath. Or Carter, maybe. Or even Clinton (though given the bucolic setting, one could also imagine him in other, more Dionysian scenarios)."

Bucolic is not an adjective I come across frequently, and I confess to being ignorant in its meaning. As such I go back the presumed etymology of the word. In that case it leads me to presume that the setting is sickly or diseased.

There are a number of relatively rare adjective/adverbs that superficially imply quite a different meaning than intended.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
March 17th, 2005
Didnt some government dude in the US get fired for using the word "nigardly"?
Permalink Eric Debois 
March 17th, 2005
..Or is that "niggardly"?
Permalink Eric Debois 
March 17th, 2005
Hampstead heath is, well a heath. It probably still is common land and you probably could graze cattle on it or there's some charter that enables someone to be granted the rights to graze upon it. Hence the bucolic, from the latin for rustic made up of the greek original roots of bous, cow, and colos tending.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
March 17th, 2005
As for niggard (and the adverb), it predates the 19th century, somewhere in the 13th century as nygard and probably from the nordic njugg which means close (close with money) or from the Old Norse hnøggr which means stingy.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
March 17th, 2005
A classic case of word confusion ... http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_49785.html
Permalink David Aldridge 
March 17th, 2005
Aha, Bu-Colic, as in that colic produced by the dreaded 'Bu' -- thus 'sickly'. Thus it is explained.

And how did the 'N' word get applied to dark-skinned peoples anyway? Or do I really want to know? Probably not, because I'm sure the explanation would set off so many racist filters it would be more trouble than it is worth.
Permalink AllanL5 
March 17th, 2005
Well the Spanish word for black is "negro", and presumably variations started appearing from there.
Permalink  
March 17th, 2005
----"And how did the 'N' word get applied to dark-skinned peoples anyway? "----

'cos it means 'black' maybe?
Permalink Stephen Jones 
March 17th, 2005
Its originally from the Latin word for black. presumably, some biologist traveled around the and gave proper Latin names to all "races" of humans.

It funny how a word can accumulate such an amount of cultural baggage. But a lot of words do, I suppose.

Personally, I think that being able to distinguish between the actual meaning of a word, and the cultural/emotional excess that it carries is very important if you want to be able to think logically.
Permalink Eric Debois 
March 17th, 2005
'nonplussed' is often used when the opposite meaning is intended.
Permalink AC 
March 17th, 2005
I read that "African American" was once a gross insult to black people in America, and they would likely smack you round the face if you referred to them in that way. At the same time, negro was for a long time perfectly polite and unremarkable.

I think the issue is not so much taking offense at a given word, but that a group of people want to "own" words amongst themselves to define a group identity, and they therefore want to stop outsiders using those same words because they don't "belong". As time passes, the "group identity" words change, in the same way that fashions do.
Permalink Ian Boys 
March 17th, 2005
Without looking, what do people think the word penultimate means?
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
March 17th, 2005
Mont Blanc.
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 17th, 2005
Penultimate means second from last, unless I am mistaken.
Permalink Ian Boys 
March 17th, 2005
"Without looking, what do people think the word __________ means?"

This game isn't fair, how can I guess the meaning if I can't look at the word?
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 17th, 2005
----"nonplussed' is often used when the opposite meaning is intended."---

I'm nonplussed. Explanation please.
Permalink Stephen Jones 
March 17th, 2005
I believe penultimate means "all but last", like Ian said, but many seem to think it means sort of "super last".
Permalink Eric Debois 
March 17th, 2005
If some people happen to think nonplussed means unperturbed, then what do you suppose they think "plussed" means?

Reminds me of the joke in the military: "Since this is a training exercise, you might think these grenades are inert; on the contrary, these grenades are very ert! Be careful with them!"
Permalink Ian Boys 
March 17th, 2005
Penultimate means "next to last." Or at least, that's how the track & field training videos I was forced to watch in high school used it.

"And on your penultimate stride your foot should be..." etc.
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 17th, 2005
How about flammable vs. inflammable? That's a fun one right there.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 17th, 2005
Hah! By rights, everything is flammable, since anything (or any one) can be flamed. Flaming is what you do *to* things, while inflaming is bringing about something which is latently possible in certain subjects. Not everything can be inflamed.

I hearby prove Aaron is flammable: Aaron, you are a moron!

:-) :-) :-)

(If I miscalculated, I might just have proved that Aaron is inflammable too. :-P)
Permalink Ian Boys 
March 17th, 2005
Not entirely relevant, but I get annoyed when "ultimate" is used as a synonym for "best". It means "last" or "final", dammit!
Permalink Mat Hall 
March 18th, 2005
--"Not entirely relevant, but I get annoyed when "ultimate" is used as a synonym for "best". It means "last" or "final", dammit!"----

Merriam-Webster give one of the meanings as "the best or most extreme of its kind".
The SOED gives the meaning "Beyond which no advance can be made; fundamental, primar" and like Webster dates it back to the 17th century.

Don't let that put you off though. When the new Dr. Who airs you can hop aboard the Tardis and go back to Cromwell's time to cudgel those yobbish yokels with no sense of the true traditions of the English language.
Permalink Stephen Jones 
March 18th, 2005
"Don't let that put you off though. When the new Dr. Who airs you can hop aboard the Tardis and go back to Cromwell's time to cudgel those yobbish yokels with no sense of the true traditions of the English language."

With pleasure; I have no real problem with neologisms, but you've got to draw the line somewhere or we'll end up like the Smurfs. After smurf, if some smurf wants to change the smurf of some smurf, who am I to smurf?
Permalink Mat Hall 
March 18th, 2005
renege is no longer usable due to some people thinking it is racist.
Permalink Miles Archer 
March 18th, 2005
In a former workplace of mine, somebody reputedly objected to the term "Reverse Polish Notation", presumably because they believed it implied some kind of a slur against Poles.
Permalink John C. 
March 18th, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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