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Chautauqua (shuh-TAW-kwuh, chuh-) noun

An annual summer school offering education in the form of public lectures and cultural activities, often held outdoors.

[After Chautauqua, the name of a lake and county in southwestern New York state where such a program originated in 1874.]

"In this Chautauqua I would like not to cut any new channels of consciousness but simply dig deeper into old ones that have become silted in with the debris of thoughts grown stale and platitudes too often repeated." Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, 1974.

No matter where we stand on miles and miles of this earth, they all afford an equally wondrous view of the stars. Yet the age-old wisdom tells us there are three important things to look for when the aim is to call a few yards of this land ours: location, location, location. And location is what we want to pay attention to when it comes to this week's words for they all came from the names of some locations. They are known as toponyms, words derived from places.

Whether it's when we drink champagne (from Champagne, France), make a solecism (after Soloi, an Athenian colony in Cilicia), or when we meet our Waterloo (Waterloo, Belgium) we are (perhaps unknowingly) alluding to a distant land and its history. This week's words take us to New York, Rome, Ireland, Germany, and the Mediterranean. -Anu


There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by ridicule, howsoever poor and witless. -Mark Twain, author and humorist (1835-1910)

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