ANIVUT : humility , a feeling by the individual that he lacks inner worth , an appreciation that he amounts to very little *


I was reading David Brooks’ column in the NYTimes  yesterday, the first day of Passover.  He called it “A Long Obedience.”    In the midst of his column I stumbled across the word anivut, and I knew that I was reading a word for the first time. I wrote it in my research notes, and then […]

UGLINESS OF SPIRIT: the underlying negativity in American culture


Paul Krugman, Nobel Laureate, published a column in today’s (April 11)  New York Times entitled “Health Care Nightmares.”   Given the prominence of the issue of the Affordable Care Act and the resignation of Secretary Sibelius, I read it with curiosity. In the midst of the article I found the following comment which jolted me from […]

CURSE: the expression of a wish that misfortune, evil, doom, etc., befall a person…or a profane oath

curse 2

The New York Times ran an op-ed that discussed the issue of repeating  graphic language in a story that had included it.  The author of the op-ed, JESSE SHEIDLOWER, made the point that in doing so, a journalist is being true to the story.  The words are not the journalist’s words…they are the words of […]

OBFUSCATE [OB-fuh-skeyt]: to make obscure, foggy or unclear


To intentionally obfuscate an issue is to do something that makes it nearly impossible for someone to see the point clearly.  It is to insert fogginess into something that should be quite clear.  It is a malicious act to confuse and bewilder someone. Obfuscation is a word which comes from “late Latin,”  that segment of […]

DELIQUESCE: to melt away, disappear

While the word deliquesce (pronounced del-a-kwes) is usually used in science to describe the concept of something melting away, like an ice cube, it also has literary applications.  It can be used (as a verb) to describe the concept of an issue fading from prominence. For instance, a recent New York Times article about the […]

METAPHOR: a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance*

The wonderful children’s story, The Emperor’s Clothes, depicted in the illustration for today’s posting, is a perfect example of the literary phenomenon known as a metaphor. It is a way of making a point by referring to an incident which illustrates it. The Emperor has convinced himself that his parading nude in public is not […]