К сожалению, один проект, который должен закончиться в конце февраля, не позволяет мне пока ежедневно присутствовать в ЖЖ, но я надеюсь скоро к вам вернуться.
Dictionaries aren’t just for looking up spellings and meanings of a broad selection of terms; you’ll find biographical, geographical, and medical dictionaries, among other specialized volumes. Here are five other categories of repositories of words, with a link to one online example of each.
1. Reverse Dictionaries
A reverse dictionary enables you to type in a phrase that describes a word or phrase you’re trying to think of. The matching technology is imperfect, of course, but a reverse dictionary is your best chance for coming up with that elusive term. Try this reverse dictionary at the dictionary portal OneLook.com, or, if you prefer a print resource, check out the Illustrated Reverse Dictionary, by John Ellison Kahn.
2. Visual Dictionaries
Visual dictionaries like this one provide visitors with illustrations of animate and inanimate things labeled with parts and components. Merriam-Webster’s publishes a print visual dictionary, but many others are available, including multilingual ones and those produced especially for children.
3. Beginners’/Learners’ Dictionaries
The Cambridge University Press has, among its family of online dictionaries one with simplified definitions; for American English specifically, Merriam-Webster offer Word Central, an online children’s dictionary that is helpful for learners of all ages without being juvenile in presentation. For a print version, use a dictionary for young students (like th Scholastic Children’s Dictionary) — though the child-oriented design of these books may put off older learners — or one for English-language learners.
4. Translation Dictionaries
Online dictionaries that enable visitors to type in a word and receive its equivalent in another language (or obtain an English word by entering a foreign one) abound; many websites, such a Dictionary.com’s Translator site, include search engines for multiple languages. Of course, print translation dictionaries are also easy to find on the Internet and in bookstores. (Recently published ones available at used-book stores are a good bargain.)
5. Unusual-Words Dictionaries
Numerous Web-savvy language aficionados have created online repositories of seldom-used and/or offbeat words; go, for example, to the Phrontistery. You’ll also find many similar print compendiums, such a The Word Lovers’ Dictionary: Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, by Josefa Heifetz.
Words in which the element -cept appears have one thing in common: They have something to do with taking, literally or figuratively. Here are ten such words in noun form and their definitions, as well as common terms — nouns, verbs, and adjectives — based on them, along with meanings for the additional terms.
1. Acceptance: the act or state of agreeing or approving (related words are accept, meaning “to hold or take,” and acceptable, meaning “satisfactory”)
2. Conception: the process of producing an idea or thought or a new life, or the act of beginning, forming, or originating (related words are conceive, meaning “to bring into being,” concept, meaning “idea,” conceptual, meaning “relating to ideas,”conceptualize, meaning “to produce an idea,” misconception, meaning “misunderstanding,” and preconception, meaning “a prejudice or premature opinion”)
3. Deception: the act or an instance of being tricked (related words are deceit, synonymous with deception but also meaning “the quality of being tricky” — the latter meaning is also applicable to deceitfulness — deceitful, meaning “tricky,” deceive, meaning “to trick,” and deceptive, meaning “misleading”)
4. Exception: exclusion, or something that is excluded, or an objection (related words are exceptional, meaning “rare,” “superior,” or “not within the norm,” exceptionalism, meaning “an attitude or situation of superiority,” and exceptionable, meaning “objectionable”)
5. Inception: the beginning or commencement of something
6. Interception: interference that results in the taking of something intended for someone else (a related word is intercept, “to interrupt, to gain possession”)
7. Perception: appreciation or observation, or the ability to comprehend or sense (related words are perceive, meaning “to understand or become aware,” perceptiveness and perceptivity, meaning “the quality of being able to become aware,” andimperceptible, meaning “unable to be seen or understood,” as well as apperception, meaning “self-consciousness” or “perception” and especially referring to understanding based on previous experience
8. Precept: a command, order, or principle (a related word is preceptor, meaning “principal” or “teacher”)
9. Reception: acquisition or admission, whether what is received is intangible, like attention or a response, or an object; reception also denotes an event at which someone is given attention (related words are receive, meaning “to acquire, to accept from,” receptive, meaning “amenable to acquiring or accepting,” receptionist, meaning “someone who greets clients,” and recipient, meaning “one who acquires,” as well as receptacle, meaning “a container for acquiring or placing”)
10. Susceptibility: ability to submit to, or lack of resistance to, something, or responsivity or impressionability (a related word is susceptible)
Words used to describe medical conditions or phenomena often acquire new connotations by extension of the original meaning, though sometimes the medical meaning followed rather than fostered the other. Here are twenty such terms and their other senses, as well as the initial definition.
1. Anemic: lacking in some quality, such as energy, interest, quantity, or substance (blood deficiency, resulting in a lack of vitality)
2. Artery: a communication or transportation channel, especially a major one (vessels that carry blood from the heart throughout the body)
3. Articulation: the action, manner, or state of being joined, or expressing or uttering sounds or words; also, an obstruction (a joint or juncture in an animal)
4. Cataracts: waterfalls or steep rapids, or torrents (a clouding of the eye that obstructs light) — this word, from the Latin term for a portcullis, a gate that is lowered from above, likely acquired the medical connotation later, from the resemblance of the clouding to a sheet of water
5. Diagnosis: an analysis or investigation, or its conclusion (using signs and symptoms to identify a disease, or the identification itself)
6. Dyspeptic: disgruntled (suffering from indigestion)
7. Hallucination: delusion (false perception caused by drugs or a nervous system disorder, or the object so perceived)
8. Hemorrhage: a significant loss or release (a heavy flow of blood)
10. Nasal: a vocal quality suggestion obstruction in the nose (pertaining to the nose)
11. Nerve: boldness, strength, or a sensitive issue (tissue that connects components of an organism’s nervous system, or sinews or tendons)
12. Oral: spoken (pertaining to the mouth, or to personality traits or a stage of psychological development)
13. Paralysis: incapacity or powerlessness (loss of ability to sense and move part or all of the body)
14. Plethora: abundance, excess (an excess of blood)
15. Postmortem: an analysis or discussion of an event after it has occurred (an autopsy)
16. Prognosis: forecast (chances for recovery from disease)
17. Sanguine: bloodthirsty, or optimistic (pertaining to blood, or having a ruddy complexion)
18. Schizophrenia: antagonistic or contrary attitudes or qualities (a psychiatric disorder marked by delusion of perception and thought)
19. Surgical: marked by precision (pertaining to medical operations)
20. Umbilical: used in references to excessive emotional attachment (pertaining to the navel or the center of the abdomen)
Why is there a taint surrounding ain’t? Why do editors get ornery or riled, or have conniptions or raise a ruckus, if writers try to use these and other words?
The ebb and flow of the English language’s vocabulary is caused by competing crosscurrents. Neologisms come in with each tide, some of them washing ashore and others drifting back out to sea. But pronouncements from self-appointed experts and tacit disapproval by the self-selected better classes can also result in the relegation of certain terms and idioms to the realm of substandard or nonstandard usage. Here are ten words that, at least in terms of one sense, have been demoted by an association with rural dialect.
1. Ain’t: Once a fully legitimate contraction of “am not” employed at least in familiar conversation by speakers of all social classes, ain’t came to be identified with less well-educated people, and in the United States specifically with poor rural dwellers. It’s unfortunate that in writing, its use is restricted to humorous emphasis or idiomatic expressions (“Say it ain’t so!”).
2. Allow: The sense of allow meaning “concede” or “recognize” has been relegated to obscurity; seldom is this usage employed except in faux-rural contexts.
3. Conniption: This word for an emotional fit, usually appearing in plural form (“having conniptions”), is still employed occasionally in a jocular sense. It was first attested almost two hundred years ago, but its origin is obscure, though it’s possibly a corruption of corruption, which once had a connotation of anger, or might be derived from a dialectal form of captious (“fallacious”).
4. Fetch: Fetch has a colloquial air about it, and it’s unfortunate that the word lacks respectability, because it is more vivid and thorough a term than get (“Could you fetch that for me?”), and more compact than, for example, “Could you go over there and bring that back for me?” It survives in one formal sense, however: far-fetched (originally, “brought from afar,” but used figuratively for most of its centuries-long life span).
5. Ornery: This contraction of ordinary, influenced by the latter word’s less common senses of “coarse” and “ugly,” developed a connotation of cantankerous or mean behavior. Today, it’s used only in a humorous or scornful sense.
6. Reckon: The sense of reckon that means “suppose” (“I reckon I ought to get home”) is one of the most high-profile examples of stereotypical rural dialect, but it’s absent from formal usage.
7. Rile: This dialectal variant of roil, in the sense of “stir up,” is used informally to describe irritation or anger.
8. Ruckus: Ruckus, probably a mash-up of ruction (“disturbance”) and rumpus (“boisterous activity”) — themselves both dialectal terms — is now used only light-heartedly.
9. Spell: The sense of spell that means “an indefinite period of time,” related to the use of the word to mean “substitute,” is confined to rural dialect or affectation of such usage.
10. Yonder: This formerly standard term meaning “over there” is now known only in rural dialect (or spoofing of it) or in a poetic sense.
Food, one of the necessities of life, figures often in traditional expressions. Fruits and vegetables, specifically, account for some of the most familiar idioms, including the following.
1. To compare “apples and oranges” is to uselessly compare unlike things.
2. The “apple of (one’s) eye” is a favorite or well-like person.
3. To say that “the apple never falls far from the tree” is to suggest that a person’s personality traits are close to those of the person’s parents.
4. “As American as apple pie” means that something is quintessentially representative of American culture or values.
5. “(As) sure as God made little green apples” suggests certainty.
6–12. To be a “bad apple” or a “rotten apple” is to be a bad person. Meanwhile, to say that “one bad (or rotten) apple spoils the whole bunch (or barrel)” implies that one flawed element or person can undermine an effort or a group, and to be “rotten to the core” is to be thoroughly bad or worthless.
13–14. “How do you like them apples?” (or “How about them apples?”) is a neutral or taunting comment, depending on the context, that refers to an undesirable state or situation.
15–16. To “polish (one’s) apple” is to flatter someone; a flatterer is an “apple polisher.”
17. To “upset the apple cart” is to ruin plans.
18. A “banana republic” is a weak or corrupt country.
19–20. A “second banana” is a subordinate, and the “top banana” is the leader.
21–22. To “go bananas” is to become excited or crazed, and “to drive (someone) bananas” is to annoy or irritate someone.
23. Something in “cherry condition” is excellently maintained or restored.
24. To “cherry-pick” is to select carefully.
25. “Life is a bowl of cherries” means that life is easy.
26. To “not give a fig” is to be unconcerned.
27. A “lemon” is a flawed or worthless item; the idiom often refers to a vehicle.
28. “Melon” is sometimes used as slang for head or, vulgarly, for large breasts.
29. To say that someone or something is a “peach” means that they are beautiful, excellent, or sweet.
30. When everything is “peaches and cream,” life is going well.
31. A “plum” assignment or job is a highly coveted one.
32. One is said to have “sour grapes” when one belittles something one covets but cannot obtain.
33–36. To be “full of beans” is to talk nonsense, and to “not know beans” is to be ignorant or uninformed. To be “not worth a hill of beans” is to be worthless, and to “spill the beans” is to tell a secret.
37–38. To “dangle a carrot” before someone is to encourage them with an incentive, and the carrot in “carrot and stick” is an incentive or reward. (The stick is the punishment.)
39. A “carrot top” is a red-haired person.
40. Someone “as cool as a cucumber” is very self-possessed under pressure.
41. To “pass an olive branch” is to make peaceful or reconciliatory overtures.
42. A “pea-brained” person is stupid.
43. Fog or something else very dense can be described as being “as thick as pea soup.”
44. To be “like two peas in a pod” is to be very close with or similar to someone.
45. To be “in a pickle” is to experience complication.
46. A “couch potato” is someone who spends an excessive amount of time seated watching television or playing video games.
47–48. A “hot potato” is a controversial or difficult issue, but to “drop (someone or something) like a hot potato” is to abandon the person or thing.
49. Something that is “small potatoes” is insignificant.
50. “Salad days” refers to the youthful period of one’s life.
Fruits and vegetables figure occasionally in figurative references to color, such as “beet red” (the color of embarrassment), or descriptions of specific hues, like “cherry red,” as well as other comparisons, including “pear shaped.” The words fruit andvegetable themselves appear occasionally in idiomatic phrases, including the following:
To “bear fruit” is to produce results.
“Forbidden fruit” is something attractive but not allowed.
The “fruits of one’s labors” are the results of the person’s efforts.
To “become a vegetable” is to be rendered physically disabled or to virtually cease physical activity.