SILENCE: absence of any sound or noise; stillness.


“On the one hand, silence is like fertile soil, which, as it were, awaits our creative act, our seed….On the other hand, silence must be approached with a feeling of awe. And when we speak about silence, we must keep in mind that it has two different wings, so to speak. Silence can be both […]

DELICIOUS: highly pleasing to the senses, especially to taste or smell, very pleasing; delightful


I get delicious.  It’s not a strange word; it’s familiar; it’s easy to understand. From the time I was a little child I have known the meaning of the word delicious, even as it is applied to a word meaning a variety of apple (which, incidentally, is not my favorite kind of apple.)  For the […]

CANONIC: ‘archetypal’ or ‘unique distinguished exemplar’.


The guest on NPR was talking about the impact Louis Armstrong and Billy Holliday had on the music world.  He was particularly interested in the music recorded by them in the 1930’s.   He used the term several times.  He said that Armstrong, in particular, was canonic.    I was a little confused at first, but I […]

BIAS: prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group


Several of my colleagues have referred me to an article on NPR by Adam Frank in which he comments on the slide from idealism to bias. The word bias goes back at least to Old Provençal, a former language of southern France, in association with the sport of lawn bowling, where it referred to the […]

LIGHT POLLUTION: the over-abundance of artificial light in our culture

When I was a kid I could stand in the backyard of my home and watch the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis, with no difficulty.  The lights danced in the sky in a variety of colors and it was more exciting than watching Robert Montgomery Presents on our one television station. The light show originated […]


I would bet I’ve heard the term a thousand times on NPR.  One of their sponsors (at least at their Boston affiliate) says that one of their purposes is to ensure a ” verdant environment.”  Having studied French I could easily understand what the term meant, but I was curious how the word was being […]