SUPRA: refers to something written above (in a note, letter, article, etc.)


Latin words are used regularly in the American English language as a reference to a concept that is best expressed in Latin.   From such common terms as etcetera (etc.) to modus operendi (m.o.) we slip into them easily and assume that people know what they mean.   Because they are used so frequently, most people do. […]

M.O.: modus operandi


Technical language and “inside jargon” frequently pops up in TV shows, assuming that people know what is meant.  Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t. One of the terms that we hear all the time is m.o.  You will hear a group of detectives talking about the forensic information surrounding a crime.   They will say, ” […]

BEHEST: an earnest or strongly worded request.


There’s a difference between a request and a behest. A request can be gentle, subtle, or even ambiguous.   It may be as gentle as a note left on the refrigerator door: If anyone gets the time, the dog poop in the backyard needs to be cleaned up.” Or it could be a specific task aimed […]

OBJECTIVE: intended to be unbiased


Writers of non-fiction, particularly, are faced constantly with the need to distinguish their work between objective  and subjective perspectives.   If a newspaper article, for instance, is being written for the front page, the reader expects it to be somewhat objective.  That is to say, opinions of the journalist are not welcome on the front page.   […]

MARGINALIA [mahr-juh-NEY-lee-uh]: notes written in the margin of texts by authors or subsequent readers


I remember well the days when a student would be punished for making a mark in a text book. In those days textbooks were used year after year.  There was a tab inserted in the back of the book on which the current student would write (his) name on the first day of the fall […]

QUERY: a writer’s best (?) friend

It’s late at night; a single bulb lamp illuminates the desk on which an over-used computer rests.  I’m sitting in a rolling desk chair which loves the slate floor of the sun room where the desk sits.  Every now and then a little push back on the chair sends it careening across the slate floor.  […]