Thursday, 22 May 2008

New words


Occasionally, when doing the daily (or bi-daily*) crossword GB and I come across a word neither of us knew. Plangent (loud and sad) was a recent one but even better was crapulent (suffering from excessive eating or drinking) from the latin root crapulentus meaning drunken which in turn leads back to the Greek kraipale - a drunken headache.
*The word bi-daily is itself an interesting one. My usage of it was to mean twice a day. So far as I was concerned the prefix bi- generally means to divide into two as in bi-annual, meaning twice a year, as opposed to biennial, meaning every two years. But upon checking I discovered that it is used to mean either twice a day or once every two days - the Met Office, for example, uses it to mean every two days but then decides that the meaning is so unclear it resorts to putting ‘two day‘ in brackets afterwards.
So I resorted to my favourite book in the whole wide world - The Concise Oxford Dictionary. That sorts the issue once and for all - NOT. It gives bi- as meaning anything from twice, doubly, or having two; lasting for two or appearing twice in a …. In the end it recommends using semi- as an alternative so perhaps we do the crossword semi-daily.

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