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Mar 5, 2019
This week’s theme
Words from previous years

This week’s words
mondegreen
resistentialism
spoonerism
petrichor
omphaloskepsis

resistentialism
Cartoon: Kipling West

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

resistentialism

PRONUNCIATION:
(ri-zis-TEN-shul-iz-um)

MEANING:
noun: The theory that inanimate objects demonstrate hostile behavior toward us.

ETYMOLOGY:
Coined by humorist Paul Jennings as a blend of the Latin res (thing) + French resister (to resist) + existentialism (a kind of philosophy). Earliest documented use: 1948.

NOTES:
If you ever get a feeling that the photocopy machine can sense when you’re tense, short of time, need a document copied before an important meeting, and right then it decides to take a break, you’re not alone. Now you know the word for it.
As if to prove the point, my normally robust DSL Internet connection went bust for two hours just as I was writing this. I’m not making this up.

USAGE:
“Scornful and uncooperative objects -- pianos that mock our sausage fingers; computers that develop transient but alarming hypochondria; keys, socks, and teaspoons that scurry off to their secret covens and never return. There are certainly days when resistentialism seems the only explanation.”
Michael Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan; Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err Is Human; Bloomsbury; 2009.

“Resistentialism also has a long history in our literature. In his ‘Ode (Inscribed to W.H. Channing)’ (1846), Ralph Waldo Emerson saw the resistentialist writing on the wall and proclaimed that ‘Things are in the saddle, / And ride mankind.’”
Charles Harrington Elster; Are Things Sometimes Against Us?; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania); Sep 21, 2003.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Scratch a pessimist and you find often a defender of privilege. -William Beveridge, economist and reformer (5 Mar 1879-1963)

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