Monday, March 2, 2009


Abeyance (from the Old French abeance meaning "gaping"), a state of expectancy in respect of property, titles or office, when the right to them is not vested in any one person, but awaits the appearance or determination of the true owner. In law, the term abeyance can only be applied to such future estates as have not yet vested or possibly may not vest. For example, an estate is granted to A for life, with remainder to the heir of B. During B's lifetime, the remainder is in abeyance, for until the death of A it is uncertain who his heir is. Similarly the freehold of a benefice, on the death of the incumbent, is said to be in abeyance until the next incumbent takes possession.

Word of the week: Ankylosis

Ankylosis, or Anchylosis (from Greek ἀγκύλος, bent, crooked) is a stiffness of a joint, the result of injury or disease. The rigidity may be complete or partial and may be due to inflammation of the tendinous or muscular structures outside the joint or of the tissues of the joint itself. When the structures outside the joint are affected, the term "false" ankylosis has been used in contradistinction to "true" ankylosis, in which the disease is within the joint. When inflammation has caused the joint-ends of the bones to be fused together the ankylosis is termed osseous or complete. Excision of a completely ankylosed shoulder or elbow may restore free mobility and usefulness to the limb. "Ankylosis" is also used as an anatomical term, bones being said to ankylose (or anchylose) when, from being originally distinct, they coalesce, or become so joined together that no motion can take place between them.

Friday, February 13, 2009


From Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary:


ho·lis·tic, \hō-ˈlis-tik\, adjective

1 : of or relating to holism

2 : relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts

While holistic is by no means uncommon, I wondered the other day "Why does a term referring to wholes seems more like it is referring to holes?"

The answer begins to be found in the first definition. Holism and holistic were introduced into the lexicon by General J.C. Smuts in 1926. Holism regards "the theory...[of] nature as consisting of wholes." (Online Etym. Dict.) Gen. Smuts took the term from the Greek holos (ah, the answer) meaning "whole".

Of course this begs for a complementary question: "Where does hole come from?" For this homophone, we can thank the Germanic roots of English (as opposed to the Romantic roots of our term of inquiry). Hole can be traced back to the Gothic term us-hulon meaning "to hollow out", which later manifest in German as hohl meaning "hollow".

Thursday, February 12, 2009


"Asyndeton (from the Greek: ἀσύνδετον, 'unconnected') is a stylistic scheme in which conjunctions are deliberately omitted from a series of related clauses. Examples are veni, vidi, vici and its English translation "I came, I saw, I conquered." Its use can have the effect of speeding up the rhythm of a passage and making a single idea more memorable. More generally, in grammar, an asyndetic coordination is a type of coordination in which no coordinating conjunction is present between the conjuncts."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Employing Quotation Marks

As there was no New York Times available by the time I got to the library this morning, I picked up a copy of the USA Today to read with my coffee and bagel. Because I love me a non-story, I flipped to read about Facebook in the Life (Purple) section. The headline reads:

Facebook friends share "25 Things"

As a fan of scare quotes and poorly employed punctuation, I felt it would be interesting to run through permutations of how the quotation marks' placement can change the whole meaning of the headline. I've change the single quotation marks to double to better illustrate the way I read the story.

"Facebook" friends share 25 Things - What is this "Facebook" you speak of?
Facebook "friends" share 25 Things - People that could hardly be considered friends
Facebook friends "share" 25 Things - It's effortless to tag people on Facebook
Facebook friends share "25" Things - We can't contain ourselves to this limit because we're narcissistic humans
Facebook friends share 25 "Things" - Quite literally trite and meaningless information

So, to my "Facebook" "friends", don't be "surprised" when I don't "tag" you or "read" about your "things".

Monday, February 2, 2009

Something doesn't seem right

In writing a project paper, I needed a more specific word for "all-seeing". Here is a thesaurus entry from "". I was blown away by the fact it (1) lacked of a decent synonym (omnipresent did fit the proper denotation or connotation), (2) was so distinctly skewed to a particular religious view, and (3) hardly answered my query.

Here is the list of proposed synonyms: