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A.Word.A.Day--proceleusmatic

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Once in a while delivery of this newsletter is delayed and messages complaining of withdrawal symptoms pour into my mailbox. "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind," as British writer Rudyard Kipling said. That might help explain why some of us get so hooked on them.

As time passes, we experience symptoms of mithridatism, the condition of immunity acquired by taking gradually increased doses of something (coined after Mithridates VI, the king of Pontus who tried to build immunity against poisoning). Slowly they take over and we realize we need words with even more potency, words that are unusual, esoteric, or even preposterous, to reach an ever greater high.

Are you one of those for whom the dictionary might be better characterized as an addictionary? Help is at hand. Consider this week's words as extra high doses of the fix.

proceleusmatic (pros-uh-loos-MAT-ik) adjective

Inciting, exhorting, or inspiring.

noun

A metrical foot of four short syllables.

[From Late Latin proceleusmaticus, from Greek prokeleusmatikos (calling for incitement), from keleuein (to rouse to action).]

"The ancient proceleusmatic song by which the rowers of galleys were animated may be supposed to have been of this kind."
Samuel Johnson; A Journey to the Western Island of Scotland; 1775.

X-Bonus

There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball, and that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all. -Ogden Nash, poet (1902-1971)

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