Monday, June 16, 2008

The Alpha Word

The Good Word for today is "etiolate," pronounced ee-tee-ê-layt. I know this because I have discovered The Alpha Dictionary, the most creative and interesting dictionary every created. Every day, there is a new Good Word with pronunciation, definition, usage, and history, and it's all presented with flair.

For example, etiolate means (1) to bleach or make pale, especially by depriving of light, or (2) to make feeble or sickly. And here is how they show the word being used:

"Years researching her novels in musty libraries had etiolated Rhoda Book to the point it was difficult to look at her in a bright light. Rhoda's sister, Rita, was physically etiolated by lying to much abed with good literature."

Not only can you find definitions and clever usage tips for thousands of words, but you can also spend hours on end playing with words and finding answers to pressing questions, questions like what does "kumbaya" mean in that irritating campfire song. Here is what Alpha Dictionary says:

"Kumbaya, my Lord" started out in the 1920s as a Gullah spiritual sung on the islands of South Carolina between Charleston and Beaufort. Gullah is the creole featured in the Uncle Remus series of Joel Chandler Harris and the Walt Disney production of "Song of the South." "Come by here, my Lord" in Gullah is "Come by (h)yuh, my lawd."

And if you want to learn more, there is an entire Gullah dictionary, and there are dictionaries for dozens and dozens of written languages—Eskimo, Bantu, Apache, and Yiddish are just a few.

At Alpha Dictionary, I discovered that based on my use of language, I am only 6% Rebel, making me mostly Yankee. And I learned that this is what my name looks like in Egyptian Hieroglyphs. In the Devil's Dictionary, I found this—"ADMIRATION, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves." I learned this Latin phrase—

Feles mala! Cur cista non uteris? Stramentum novum in ea pousi.
Bad kitty! Why don't you use the cat box? I put new litter in it.

And I learned I suck at crossword puzzles regardless of the source.

So, waste your day at Alpha Dictionary, and learn a new word. You'll be etiolated in no time.

8 comments:

dive said...

Cool! I can't wait to get home and play with that, Robyn.
Slap me for acting like Frasier but I'm afraid I knew etiolated and Kumbaya (we don't learn much in English schools but what we learn is invaluable when it comes to crappy trivia).
I have a copy of Ambrose Bierce's wonderful Devil's Dictionary. It's well worth dipping into; funny and pertinent.
I think they underestimated your rebel streak, Robyn. I'd put you at around ninety percent reb.
Alpha Dictionary's Latin is slightly dodgy but I'll have to wait until I get home to check the heiroglyphs.
Hee hee. I love being a pretentious pedant.

Scout said...

Dive, by "rebel," I mean Confederate, as in the Civil War or War of Aggression, depending on which side you stand. I'm sure you didn't learn much about that in your useful English schools.

MmeBenaut said...

Very good Robyn. Love the hieroglyphs. I suck at crossword puzzles too.

savannah said...

perfect, perfect, perfect! thanks, sugar...i'm going to need to distractions very soon! xoxox

lynn said...

I knew etiolate but would have pronounced it ett-ee-o-layte. lol. I love learning.

I LOVE crossword puzzles. I'm not bad at them. I like being that annoying person who walks in to find friends agonising over the last two and i get them just like that. he he. Pah! Ha ha! Oh i should mention those sound effects are politely kept in my head and do not escape my mouth.

Mind you, it works in reverse too and sometimes i'm the one loathing that one who walks in and finishes it off.

What are you stuck on Robyn? Oh do tell, do, do please? lol.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Etiolate? Is that what happened to Michael Jackson?

Yeah, I went there.

Mrs. G. said...

I love the sound of Gullah. Have you read Susan Straight's book I've Been in Sorrows Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pans? This is where I learned to appreciate the language.

DearestDragonfly said...

You find the most interesting things! Did you ever think you might make a superb, clever and very fun teacher?