Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Word of the day: obdurate

I like to think I have a great big sesquipedalian verbosiage, but the morning news editor called Ruth outwordifies me on a semifornightical basis.

Today, while discussing her cat's resistance to change in its environment -- ie they moved the scratching post -- she tossed out "obdurate" to describe the cat.

I stopped her in mid-sentence and went searching for what the goddamned hell that means.

From Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry:
ob·du·rate
Function:
adjective
Etymology:
Middle English, from Latin
obduratus, past participle of obdurare to harden, from ob- against + durus hard — more at during
Date:
15th century
1 a: stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing
b: hardened in feelings2: resistant to persuasion or softening influences


Okay, so ... like ... go get at yer smart-talkin'.

Ruth's word-thinking was called into play last week, too. I was reading some cold copy about China's reaction to the U-S-and-A's destruction of its dead spy satellite. I came upon this sentence:

The overseas edition of People's Daily excoriated Washington for opposing a recent Russian-Chinese proposal on demilitarizing space.


Excoriated? Okay, I've seen the word before. I know what it means. I've just never said it out loud. And even if I *had* known how to pronounce it, it really has no business in a radio story. Maybe in a newspaper, where people could re-read it and consider it and say "hey, what a perfectly cromulent word to describe the situation. Kudos to the writer for their indefatigable linguistations." Maybe, but not when people are driving home in rush-hour traffic. I substituted "criticized" I think the listener(s) got the point.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the comment on my blog Scott.

    My most recent favorite silly word: onanism.

    Don't look at me that way. It's from the Bible!

    ReplyDelete