Words that Draw Blood

afflatus -- a divine bestowal of knowledge; inspiration. With a construction similar to flatulence (though the second A in afflatus is long), and especially good jibe at public officials who regard themselves and their policies as instruments of divine providence. "God told me to smite down Saddam" (G.W. Bush) is an example of afflatus from our recent history.

blatherskite -- one who loudly displays his ignorance. Universally applicable in the American public discourse; think radio talk show bloviators and the combatants on the Sunday morning television mud wrestling (aka political commentary) shows.


Words that Amuse, Words that Swing

abaft -- to the rear of. Deployable, perhaps, among other uses, with expressions of locker-room-like lasciviousness: e.g., "The view abaft as the waitress withdrew from the table was exhilarating." Or simple declarations of large-bottomness: "I've put on a few pounds abaft."

tootle -- to move along in a very leisurely manner.


Words that Stir Thought

atomism -- two distinct but related definitions worth recovering. One, tracing back at least to ancient Greek philosopher Democritus, defines all of life as reducing to individual physical particles. This belief is at the root of materialistic philosophies that postulate matter preceding mind. The other definition refers to individualism, or the belief that an individual within society can be entirely self-sufficient. The old community-versus-individualism discussion of American life. tracing back at least to Tocqueville, often enlists the term atomism.

prelapsarian -- before the (Biblical) fall; i.e., in a lost golden age of days gone by. The word is employed occasionally in academia with ironic effect to criticize accounts of history that assume the obvious superiority of a bygone era. These are referred to as "prelapsarian narrativess." The fact that this e-book is published by Prelapsarian Press perhaps will suggest our belief that there is much of merit to be recaptured from the past, including lost words. Postlapsarian, of course, means after the fall.