DEATH : the act of dying; the end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism. the act of dying; the end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism.

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I spent part of this morning watching portions of the Mass of Christian Burial for Vincent (Buddy) Cianci, former Mayor of the City of Providence.  It was held in the Roman Catholic Cathedral with the Bishop of Providence Presiding.   I was not a real fan of Buddy Cianci, but his death has caused a great […]

GESTALT [guh-SHTAHLT]: a structure possessing qualities as a whole that cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts


Gestalt is a “professional word” that comes into our language through the German language.   In fact, for many, the term is always capitalized to reflect that it is still a German word.  However, over the past decades the word gestalt has become so common in English that it is now written in lower case. Gestalt […]

ZEITGEIST [TSAHYT-gahyst] : what’s happening in a specific environment at a particular time

Wikipedia says zeitgeist is “ the general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual, or political climate within a nation or even specific groups, along with the general ambiance, morals, sociocultural direction, and mood associated with the current era.”   That’s a lot of words, but they make sense.   Zeitgeist is a term that comes directly from the German […]

BEMUSED DUDGEON: confused resentment

In a very well written NY Times op-ed piece on August 10, Ta-Nehisi Coates, editor of the Atlantic, uses the term bemused dudgeon. The piece is about former Governor Romney’s commentary on the role of culture in attaining success. Having never heard the term dudgeon before, it led me on an investigative journey.  I discovered […]

WATERFIRE: a magnificent environmental art form in Providence

One of the more incredible advantages of living in Providence, Rhode Island , is the ability to participate in Waterfire throughout the warmer season of the year.  The best way to describe it is to quote from its webpage: This award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence, has been […]

SNOWBILLY: A derogatory term for a person who was born in or lives in a rural location in northern Canada or Alaska.

A few months ago my colleague, Paul McFedries, listed this word, snowbilly, in his blog, Word Spy. I liked the word and noted it in my word list for later use.  Today as I sit at my computer looking out at more than a foot of new-fallen snow I can’t help but wonder if Paul’s […]