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Oct 6, 2008
This week's theme
There is a word for it

This week's words
hypergelast
skeuomorph
hey rube
snood
serein
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

With the largest vocabulary of any language, in English we have a word to describe almost everything. And when we can't find one, we're happy to borrow from another language (from German: schadenfreude, pleasure at another's misfortune), or just make one up (petrichor, the pleasant smell of rain after a dry spell).

That said, let's not gloat over how many words we have. English's poverty shows in many places, for example, when it comes to words to describe relations. How useful is it to introduce the woman with you as your sister-in-law when the term could mean any number of things? This week we visit a few terms that make one say, "I didn't know there was a word for it!"

hypergelast

PRONUNCIATION:
(hy-PUHR-ji-last)

MEANING:
noun: One who laughs excessively.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek hyper- (over) + gelastes (laugher), from gelan (to laugh). A related word is agelast: someone who never laughs.

USAGE:
"America had become a laughing nation, a country of frivolists and hypergelasts, a culture dangerously out of control."
Henry Jenkins; What Made Pistachio Nuts?; Columbia University Press; 1992.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I am a part of all that I have met. -Alfred, Lord Tennyson, poet (1809-1892)

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