Feature Word: Abracadabra

Definition:

1) a magical charm or incantation, which
2) gibberish or unintelligible language

Description:

Magic spells usually come to mind when this word is heard. It does, in fact have ancients roots, stemming back to the 2nd Century AD – it was in a poem written by Quintus Sammonicus Serenus entitled De Medicina Praecepta. As physician to the Roman emperor Caracalla, he prescribed that a sufferer from disease wear it as an amulet, in the form of a triangle:

A-B-R-A-C-A-D-A-B-R-A

A-B-R-A-C-A-D-A-B-R

A-B-R-A-C-A-D-A-B

A-B-R-A-C-A-D-A

A-B-R-A-C-A-D

A-B-R-A-C-A

A-B-R-A-C

A-B-R-A

A-B-R

A-B

A

 

Supposedly, this would diminish the hold the disease has over the patient / sufferer. It may have a Semitic origin, but it is also similar to the Aramaic ‘Abrahadabra’ which roughly translates to “I will create as I speak.”

Other associations with this word: ‘Abracadabra’ was used as a magical formula by the Gnostics of the sect of Basilides to invoke the aid of beneficient spirits against disease (according to the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica) .

Source:

Merriam-Webster online dictionary, Wikipedia

Pulchritudinous

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Definition:

possessing great physical beauty or appeal

Description:

Although it doesn’t seem to sound very pretty, this word means ‘beautiful’! The root of the word, pulcher, is Latin for “beautiful,” but the use as an adjective appears to be of an American origin, dating sometime between 1910-1915.

 

 

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Abracadabra

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Definition:

1) a magical charm or incantation, which
2) gibberish or unintelligible language

Description:

Magic spells usually come to mind when this word is heard. It does, in fact have ancients roots, stemming back to the 2nd Century AD – it was in a poem written by Quintus Sammonicus Serenus entitled De Medicina Praecepta. As physician to the Roman emperor Caracalla, he prescribed that a sufferer from disease wear it as an amulet, in the form of a triangle:

A-B-R-A-C-A-D-A-B-R-A

A-B-R-A-C-A-D-A-B-R

A-B-R-A-C-A-D-A-B

A-B-R-A-C-A-D-A

A-B-R-A-C-A-D

A-B-R-A-C-A

A-B-R-A-C

A-B-R-A

A-B-R

A-B

A

 

Supposedly, this would diminish the hold the disease has over the patient / sufferer. It may have a Semitic origin, but it is also similar to the Aramaic ‘Abrahadabra’ which roughly translates to “I will create as I speak.”

Other associations with this word: ‘Abracadabra’ was used as a magical formula by the Gnostics of the sect of Basilides to invoke the aid of beneficient spirits against disease (according to the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica) .

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Renegade

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Definition:

a deserter of any type, (historically, in terms of religion)

Description:

The English borrowed and  modified this word from the Spanish ‘renegado,‘ who formed it from a Latin term meaning “to deny.”

When a Christian deserted and joined the Muslim army, Spanish churchmen labeled a man who denounced his faith a “renegado.” English took this and modified it to ‘renegade’ and was used to designate “the occasional turncoat who denied his religion for profit.”

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Floccinaucinihilipilification

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Definition:

estimating or judging something as worthless; belittling other’s achievements

Description:

Several Latin stem words strung together as a joke by a student in Eton College in the 18th Century. The list came from a grammar book that listed a Latin word set in which all meant “little or no value.” These words were: flocci, nauci, nihili, and pili (with –fication at the end to make it a noun.)

floccifloccus (a whisp or piece of wool)

naucinaucum (a trifle)

nihilinihilism (nothing)

pilipilus (a hair)

In essence, they all mean little, nothing, or worthless. And quite obviously, this word is fun because it sets an example of a really long word.

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Weird

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Definition:

of strange or extraordinary character

Description:

You may know today’s word as a generalized term for anything unusual, but ‘weird’ also has older meanings that are more specific. ‘Weird’ derives from the Old English noun ‘wyrd,’ essentially meaning ‘fate.’

By the late 8th century, the plural ‘wyrde’ had begun to appear in texts as a gloss for ‘Parcae,’ the Latin name for the Fates — three goddesses who spun, measured, and cut the thread of life. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Scots authors employed ‘werd’ or ‘weird’ in the phrase ‘weird sisters’ to refer to the Fates.

William Shakespeare adopted this usage in Macbeth, in which the ‘weird sisters’ are depicted as three witches. Subsequent adjectival use of ‘weird’ grew out of a reinterpretation of the ‘weird’ in Shakespeare.

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