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Aug 8, 2022
This week’s theme
Words coined after animals

This week’s words
cynical
lemming
serpentine
jackrabbit
chevachee

cynical
Diogenes, Sinope, Turkey

Previous week’s theme
Verbs
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

At the entrance of a Whole Foods store, I noticed an LCD screen advertising “Animal Welfare Certified” steaks.

"Animal Welfare Certified" steaks

The absurdity of words in the ad brought a smile. You’d think anyone who raises a sentient being for the sole purpose of killing her and selling her for parts is probably not out for her welfare. It doesn’t fare well for the cow, no matter how you slice it.

Incongruity in words and action creates violence. Another example is wearing ribbons with the words “Support Our Troops” while dispatching them to die in manufactured wars.

Wow! I must be good with words -- today I have managed to alienate two groups of people in one write-up.

What are your thoughts? Share below or email us at words@wordsmith.org. As always, include your location (city, state).

Meanwhile let’s get back to where we started. This week we’ll feature five words made with animals, but no animals were harmed in the making of these words. Animal Welfare Certified, for real!

cynical

PRONUNCIATION:
(SIN-i-kuhl)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Believing that people are motivated primarily by self-interest.
2. Behaving in a selfish manner, callously violating accepted standards.
3. Pessimistic; jaded; negative.
4. Contemptuous; mocking.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin cynicus, from Greek kynikos (like a dog), from kyon (dog). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kwon- (dog), which is also the source of canine, chenille (from French chenille: caterpillar, literally, little dog), kennel, canary, hound, dachshund, corgi, and cynosure cynophilist, cynophobia, philocynic, cynegetic, and cynosure. Earliest documented use: 1588.

NOTES:
Cynics was the name given to the ancient Greek philosophers who believed in self-control, austerity, and moral virtue. The movement was founded by Antisthenes (c. 444-365 BCE) and perfected by Diogenes (c. 412-323 BCE). It’s not clear why they were labeled cynics or dog-like, but as often happens with such epithets, they appropriated it. Some believe the name was given because Antisthenes taught in a gymnasium nicknamed White Dog, but it’s more likely that they were given the insulting moniker for their rejection of society’s conventions.

USAGE:
“‘Fairy tales look great on paper. In real life, not so much.’
‘Cynical.’”
Jill Kemerer; Small-Town Bachelor; Harlequin; 2015.

See more usage examples of cynical in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
No one worth possessing / Can be quite possessed. -Sara Teasdale, poet (8 Aug 1884-1933)

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