Saturday, December 31, 2011

Y Word(s) of 2011: Minatory and Sodality

Aloha, readers. I couldn't choose only one word this year. Both minatory and sodality are beautiful-handsome. Trying to choose drove me to distraction, so I gave up.

And then (once I had decided) I remembered an article written about 15 years ago, possibly in Boston, about the New York Times wedding pages. The article said that the featured couples usually had one person who was the predatory sort and one who was the peace, love, and happiness sort--something like that.

Minatory and sodality?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


From a photo caption in the section "Around Kilauea" in Hawaii the Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook, 5th Edition, by Andrew Doughty:

'A'a lava on the left (named by the first Hawaiian to walk on it barefooted) is rough and clinkery.

The 'a'a lava in the photo looks like a cascade of giant Grape Nuts, overly roasted and somewhat charred, and of various sizes. Up close the formation is highly porous and sure to cut your feet. Clinkery makes the lava sound downright friendly. One might think, "Rolling chunks of this lava make a pleasant clinking sound."

The OED includes clinkery as one of its Obs. rare words; it means "Contracted or shrivelled with heat or cold." One 1398 spelling has the word as klynkery.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Y Finalists for 2011

I will miss pyththy, which seems destined only for a cameo.

Still in play:


Sunday, December 25, 2011


From Waguih Ghali's novel Beer in the Snooker Club:

The servants in the club have seen us grow up and call us by our Christian names, adding such honorific titles as 'Bey' and 'Pasha'.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Y semi-finalists for 2011

Readers, I realize you're on the edge of your seats.

A newcomer has joined.

The semi-finalists are:


Sunday, December 18, 2011


From Hercules. A Musical Drama. As performed at Oxford. Set by Mr. Handel. "At the Theatre Thursday July 5th 1774":

Something about jealousy as jealouſy with the long s brings to mind (tonight) poufy things--Reddi wip on red JELL-O, festoons, ottomans--and soft-shoe comedy in the spirit of "The Way You Look Tonight."

Of course jealoufy would be even poufier.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


From Ian McEwan's tribute "Christopher Hitchens, Consummate Writer," in a December 16, 2011 issue (but not my paper one) of The New York Times.

It was the smile of recognition, or one that anticipates in late afternoon an “evening of shame:” — that is to say, pleasure, or, one of his favorite terms, “sodality.”

It seems like an Emily Dickinson sort of word, too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Y Quarterfinalists for 2011

It's that time again. And although there's still time for a newcomer to break into this group, the finalists are:


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Not Gracie.

It looks a bit odd.

From the interactive map accompanying Sam Roberts' March 20, 2011, New York Times article, "No Hero in 1811, Street Grid’s Father Was Showered With Produce, Not Praise."

I suppose some of John Randel's hand-drawn and colored maps are now on view at the just-opened Master Plan of Manhattan exhibit at The Museum of the City of New York.

The Times' interactive map is fun to play with. It allows the user to fade in and out of Randel's 1811 map of the proposed street grid and the grid as it now stands. Carl Schurz Park seems to be the latest layer to re-place the Gracy piece, the Gracy place.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


From the menu of a Park Slope restaurant whose name I didn't write down. I think it's across the street from Mura, on 5th Avenue.

Possibly I didn't write it down because the wholesome goodness of it was so uninspiring. I can't recall if the heading was Breakfasty Items or what, but it was too cutesy, too stereotypically gingham and baskets with bows.

I stood there for a moment, editorially, thinking, Why not just breakfast? Breakfast is good. Breakfast is already two words (or three, depending on how you view it)--why add on this curlicue?

Breakfasty. The image was a piece of cotton cloth twisted to the choking point. Unappetizing! The opposite of Gino's menu charms (written about, if I remember correctly, in these posts).

I wonder how a translator would render breakfasty in French or Italian.