CHRISTIAN: a person who exemplifies in his or her life the teachings of Christ


This morning the papers carried the news that Ted Cruz had “won” the Republican slot for the presidency in the Iowa Republican Caucus.  The picture of his victory speech showed him in front of an American flag and a huge cross.   That’s because Senator Cruz boasts that he is a Christian and that it is […]

STENOSIS [sti-NOH-sis] : narrowing or blockage of a passageway


Sometimes when I am in a physician’s office the doctor will identify a medical situation, using the Latin or Greek words for it.   If the doctor is in a good mood I respond, “I love it when you talk dirty.”  Most of the time the physician will laugh with me, and then translate the condition […]

CHIASMUS [kahy-AZ-muh s]: a reversal in the order of words in two otherwise parallel phrases,

In his inauguration speech of 1961, John F. Kennedy spoke words that have been impossible to forget.  “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” They may be memorable, but…unfortunately…they have been ignored by many. Their purpose today, in this blog posting, […]

PLEONASM [PLEE-uh-naz-uh m]: use of too many words to make a point


I’m the worst!    I am forever being told to simplify my language.  It seems I use too many words to make a point.  I’m guilty of chronic pleonasm.  Somebody reading something I wrote recently said to me, “Eliminate 90% of your adjectives.  You will still make your point, and the reader won’t get bored before […]

ETHICS: a system of moral principles


  Ethics is an oft-debated concept which has to do with morals,the way society interprets peoples’ ethical decisions.  Ethics is a word derived from the Greek word ethos, which means common, as in “the common way of understanding something.” For some, the decision to support the death penalty, for instance, is a moral choice based […]

HERETIC: choice; one who has chosen;anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.


When we are emotional about something we may have a tendency to toss words around without paying much attention to their actual meaning.   This is especially true in such volatile areas as politics, religion, and sexual orientation.   They just come rolling out of our mouths and we move on, not realizing that we may have […]