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Sep 29, 2008
This week's theme
Insults

This week's words
politicaster
quidnunc
analphabet
wifty
gormandizer

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

The pejorative suffix -aster (meaning something that is inferior, small or shallow) gives us some delightful words when it comes to name-calling. A reviewer brands a poet a poetaster (an inferior poet) and the reviewee might return the favor by calling the former a criticaster (an incompetent critic).

In the same vein, we can have a philosophaster, an astrologaster, and a theologaster. Lest we get carried away here, let's remember that a grandmaster is not an inferior grandma.

This week we'll review five words you can use to put people down.

politicaster

PRONUNCIATION:
(puh-LIT-i-kas-tuhr)

MEANING:
noun: A petty politician.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Italian politicastro, from Latin politicus (political), from Greek politikos, from polites (citizen), from polis (city) + Latin -aster (pejorative suffix).

USAGE:
"The politicaster is looking for small opportunities -- for such pickings and stealings as a careless public may leave for those of his kind. The great politician is looking for great opportunities."
Samuel McChord Crothers; In Praise of Politicians; The Wall Street Journal (New York); Jan 5, 2004.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Corporation: n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility. -Ambrose Bierce, author and editor (1842-1914)

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