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Oct 28, 2013
This week's theme
Eponyms

This week's words
pecksniffian
smellfungus
falstaffian
milquetoast
bumbledom

Seth Pecksniff
Seth Pecksniff
Image: NYPL

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Plot, characterization, and dialog, these are some of the many ingredients that make up a work of fiction. If you come up with the right name for your characters your work may seem half done.

It's an art to name one's "babies", and this week's words illustrate that. We've picked characters from Dickens, Shakespeare, and other writers who chose colorful names for their memorable creations. It's a testament to their naming that these words have become words in the English language.

This week we'll see five eponyms: words derived from a person's name.

pecksniffian

PRONUNCIATION:
(pek-SNIF-ee-uhn)

MEANING:
adjective: Pretending to have high moral principles; sanctimonious, hypocritical.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Seth Pecksniff, a character in Charles Dickens's novel Martin Chuzzlewit. Earliest documented use: 1844.

NOTES:
Charles Dickens describes Pecksniff like this: "Some people likened him to a direction-post, which is always telling the way to a place, and never goes there."

USAGE:
"She said, 'Davis, stop being such a Pecksniffian stuffed shirt.'"
Jay Inman; Sunigin; WestBow Press; 2012.

"In the meantime, the pecksniffian French consul was feigning indignation."
Bob Stockton; Fighting Bob; AuthorHouse; 2011.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Journalist Ed Murrow: "Who owns the patent on this vaccine?" Jonas Salk: "Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?" -Jonas Salk, medical researcher and developer of polio vaccine (1914-1995)

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