A word I just learned…

… reading a review by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times Book Review:

ensorcelled

“She [Clare Boothe Luce] ensorcelled the married Lieut. Gen. Lucian K. Truscott Jr., in command of the Fifth Army in Italy.”

A wonderful word, with echoes of ensnarement, sorcery and snorkels. It comes from an Old French root that indeed relates to the English word “sorcerer.”

My wife, who never ceases to ensorcell me, points out that Daniel Bélanger has a song titled Ensorcelée.

A word I just learned…

… reading World Wide Words:

Logocidal

“Logocidal refers to the destruction or perversion of meaning, something deadly to reason and communication,” says Michael Quinion. “Newspeak in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was a logocidal creation since it was designed to limit what it was possible to think about or discuss.”

It’s another word that’s obscure almost to the point of nonexistence, but Guardian writer Marina Hyde appears to be fighting a single-handed battle to keep it alive. “She uses it for language that’s obfuscatory to the point of meaninglessness, the kind employed by politicians and public figures to avoid committing themselves…” says Quinion. A useful term, given the continuing epidemic of such banana oil.

A word I just learned…

… reading P.G. Wodehouse:

mazzard

“Personally, if anyone had told me that a tie like that suited me, I should have risen and struck them on the mazzard, regardless of their age and sex; but poor old Bingo simply got all flustered with gratification, and smirked in the most gruesome manner.”

Like a lot of the best words, “mazzard,” as a slang term for head, is obsolete. What a pity. Time to bring it back into circulation, I say.

A word I just learned…

… reading Caitlin Moran:

spraffing

“Ninety-three years after women got the vote, they still aren’t saying very much. Well, obviously they are saying a lot: they’re in the kitchen getting the tea ready, and shouting at Toby Young spraffing on on Today – his ability to be a total tit about any and all events so reliable, you could use it to power an atomic clock.”