words of the day

December 27, 2006

today’s words of the day come to us from an academic article on 16th century [zionism spawning religion redacted] historiography. they are: cupidity, and paroenetic. cupidity i’ve seen before, and apparently misunderstood. the other word is, i think, the subject of a thomas pynchon novel.

cupidity comes from the Latin cupidatem, meaning passionate desire. this is what i’ve always thought cupidity meant, given cupid’s role and all. cupidity as a term for general passionate desire or lust, however, is considered archaic. instead the current meaning of the word is “spec. Inordinate desire to appropriate wealth or possessions; greed of gain.”

i’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how cupidity came to refer only to money. i can only assume that messers Graves and Faegles neglected to endow us with the fables of Cupid going broke and, needing money for blow, whoring out his arrow shooting.

more likely, there is a general trend in philology wherein words become specified over the centuries. as i’m not a philologist, i can only assume this rule exists. any philologists (or, more likely given my blog’s readership, Brandy Taylor enthusiasts) wishing to set me right should do so in the comments.

today’s second word, paroenetic, does not exist. it’s not in the OED. i can only assume that, given our author’s academic appointment, this is a standard word in Israeli English. unfortunately, it’s lost on us western worrywarts. context is of absolutely no help in figuring out the word’s meaning.

1988 Gutwirth. “especially those writing paroenetic treatises and collections of homilies,”

while i certainly don’t put it past anyone to neologize, usually the derivation is obvious. this time, not so much.  does it come from “paroecism,” the state of being paroecious? (probably not; paroecious means “having the male and female reproductive organs in close proximity but not mixed.” I can not figure out how to make that work in context. i mean, obviously it’s the right type of word for the sentence position, but come on.)

urbandictionary is likewise of no help, however it is offering me the ability to define it. i don’t have any good ideas, even for turning jokes.

so, i decided to ask google, and after turning up 3 unhelpful hits, google aksed me if i meant, “paraenetic.” i did. paraenetic means, “advisory or hortatory, now rare.” considering the rarity of the word, and the pre-internet publication date of the article, i understand why the mistake was left in. but did someone think of the word bloggers at all when they left this mistake in? how am i supposed to help society if society only hurts me?

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