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Dec 3, 2007
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Miscellaneous words

This week's words

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with Anu Garg

Order is good. Mostly. It makes sure that the earth will go around the sun in the same way as it has in the past and bring summer to ripen the mangoes. Patterns are good too -- most of the time. They help us find our shoes easily among an array of other pairs.

But if we stick too much to the same order and pattern, we lose. We lose the opportunity to discover new lands, new paths, new flowers, new ways (and new words!).

Sometimes the break in order is by choice and at times it's forced, as when you lose a job. Often it's a blessing in disguise. It's an opportunity to explore and discover what remained hidden on the old path.

This week's words have no order, pattern, or theme. They just are. But they're all interesting.


(VIL-uh-pend) Pronunciation Sound Clip

verb tr.:
1. To treat someone with contempt.
2. To disparage.

[From Old French vilipender, from Latin vilipendere, from vilis (cheap, worthless) + pendere (to consider). The words vilify, vile, revile, and venal are all cousins of this word.]

"Every month those of us who teach at Columbia (the University) are supposed to be paid, and every month last fall I wasn't. This seems not to have been a value judgment. They say the computer can't find me; I am so random I am inaccessible. Still, if I were a tenant in one of the many hovels owned by the University, and failed for months to pay my rent, you can bet Columbia (the Landlord) would have flopped my disk soon enough. Most of us are tenants in this society, which is why it is necessary to anathematize and vilipend the landlords, our owners."
John Leonard; In Person; Newsday (New York); Feb 19, 1987.


A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us. -W.H. Auden, poet (1907-1973)

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