Archive for March, 2008


Ironically, right now I’m listening to a report about Eliot Spitzer on CNN.

mer·e·tri·cious /ˌmɛrɪˈtrɪʃəs/

1. alluring by a show of flashy or vulgar attractions; tawdry.
2. based on pretense, deception, or insincerity.
3. pertaining to or characteristic of a prostitute.

[Origin: 1620-30; < L meretrīcius of, pertaining to prostitutes, der. of meretrīx prostitute = mere-, s. of merére to earn + –trīx -trix; see -ous]

-Related forms
mer·e·tri·cious·ly, adverb
mer·e·tri·cious·ness, noun

-Synonyms 1. showy, gaudy. 2. spurious, sham, false.


marl /mɑrl/

1. Geology. a friable earthy deposit consisting of clay and calcium carbonate, used esp. as a fertilizer for soils deficient in lime.
2. Archaic. earth.
(used with object)
3. to fertilize with marl.

[Origin: 1325-75; ME marle < MD < OF < ML margila, dim. of L marga, said to be < Gaulish]

-Related forms
/mɑrˈleɪʃəs/, marly, adjective


“small island,” from M.E. eyt, from O.E. igeoð, dim. of eg, ig, ieg “island” (see island). Ending infl. by Fr. dim. suffix -ot.

An ait (or eyot) is a small island found in the middle of a river or lake. It is especially used to refer to islands found on the River Thames in England.

Aits are typically formed by the deposition of sediment in the water, which accumulates over a period of time. An ait is characteristically long and narrow, and may become a permanent island. However, aits may also be eroded: the resulting sediment is deposited further downstream and could result in another ait. A channel with numerous aits is called a braided channel.

The words “ait” and “eyot” are not common in modern English, although a few famous writers have used it, including J. R. R. Tolkien in his Lord of the Rings books, and Charles Dickens in Bleak House. More recently, it was used by Terry Pratchett in the first of the Discworld books, The Colour of Magic.




NOUN: 1. A low tract of land, especially when moist or marshy. 2. A long, narrow, usually shallow trough between ridges on a beach, running parallel to the coastline. 3. A shallow troughlike depression that carries water mainly during rainstorms or snow melts.

ETYMOLOGY: [Perhaps from Middle English, shade, perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse svalr, cool.]



ob·jur·gate /ˈɒbdʒərˌgeɪt, əbˈdʒɜrgeɪt/

-verb (used with object), -gat·ed, -gat·ing.
to reproach or denounce vehemently; upbraid harshly; berate sharply.

[Origin: 1610-20; < L objūrgātus, ptp. of objūrgāre to rebuke, equiv. to ob– ob- + jūrgāre, jurigāre to rebuke, equiv. to jūr– (s. of jūs) law + –ig-, comb. form of agere to drive, do + –ātus -ate1]

-Related forms
ob·jur·ga·tion, noun
ob·jur·ga·tor, noun
ob·jur·ga·to·ri·ly /əbˈdʒɜrgəˌtɔrəli, -ˌtoʊr-/, ob·jur·ga·tive·ly, adverb
ob·jur·ga·to·ry, ob·jur·ga·tive, adjective


ca·ten·u·late /kəˈtɛnyəlɪt, -ˌleɪt/

characterized by a chainlike form, as certain bacterial colonies

[Origin: 1875-80; < LL caténul(a), dim. of L caténa chain + -ate1]


as·sev·er·ate /əˈsɛvəˌreɪt/

-verb (used with object), -at·ed, -at·ing.
to declare earnestly or solemnly; affirm positively; aver.

[Origin: 1785-95; < L assevérātus spoken in earnest (ptp. of assevérāre), equiv. to as- as- + sevér- (see severe) + –ātus -ate1]

-Synonyms assert, state, maintain.