COMITY [KOM-i-tee]: civility, mutual relationship with others


It seems almost impossible to believe, but there was a time when members of the opposite parties in Congress actually liked each other.  Not tolerated each other, or agreed to meet occasionally.  They really liked each other. There are stories of leaders of Congress who had dinner together regularly, acted as Godparents for each other’s […]

SCHMISOGENESIS [shmiz-o-JEN-e-sis]: mirroring interactions in which every move by one side makes the other respond more negatively


Wait!  Don’t click out of this just because it’s a long word!  I know, I promised that this blog would be about words we use in everyday language, but I couldn’t ignore this word that popped up in the Times the other day.  Bear with me.  It’s worth it. Schmisogenesis is an amazing word that […]

PERNICIOUS [per-NISH-uhs] : deadly, harmful,


The word pernicious came into my vocabulary associated with the disease pernicious anemia, a gastric malady having to do with the loss of vitamin B12 and its effect on the gastric system.  For some reason, I picked up this word in my childhood, probably having heard it applied to someone I knew.  I think it […]

TRUSTWORTHINESS: being deserving of one’s trust

An interview with Fordham professor Robert Hurley caught my attention.  His new book, How to Create a High-Trust Organization, puts the emphasis about the issue of trust in the right place.  It is only partially the responsibility of the receiver to develop trust in someone.   The primary responsibility, however, is for the person being considered […]

SOUSVEILLANCE: ordinary citizens keeping recorded track of officials, instead of the other way around.

If you pay attention carefully, you’ll realize that the word sousveillance is a reversal of a more familiar word, surveillance.   Surveillance is a term originating in the French language which uses the prefix, sur, meaning above.   Veillance, the main body of the word means to watch.   Therefore, the meaning of surveillance is to “watch over.”   […]

FAIR: free from bias, dishonestry, injustice

I heard  a Priest say it in her homily: “Fair is not always equal.” She was, of course, referring to the parable from the Gospel of Matthew (20:1-16) in which the landowner compensates his workers.   He has contracted with them for a specific amount, and it doesn’t matter at what hour they begin.   The contracted […]