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Jan 19, 2015
This week’s theme
Insults

This week’s words
ultracrepidarian
mythomane
libertine
homunculus
vacuous

ultracrepidarian
Art: Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

I dream of a world where we can sort out our differences by calling someone names instead of pulling out a gun and shooting. I dream of a world when people would carry a dictionary — you never know when you might need it — to find the choice word, just the right word, for someone who has offended you. The bigger, the saltier, the better.

I dream of a world where people would salivate over the upcoming edition of their favorite dictionary. One that has even more powerful words. Carrying the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary, well, that would be a military-grade weapon. One might need special vetting before one would get a license to acquire it.

I can dream.

Until it becomes a reality, I give you some fine artillery in the form of this week’s words. Use them with judgment. Only when needed. And only as a last resort.

ultracrepidarian

PRONUNCIATION:
(uhl-truh-krep-i-DAYR-ee-uhn)

MEANING:
adjective: Giving opinions beyond one’s area of expertise.
noun: One who gives opinions beyond one’s area of expertise.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin ultra (beyond) + crepidarius (shoemaker), from crepida (sandal). Earliest documented use: 1819.

NOTES:
The story goes that in ancient Greece there was a renowned painter named Apelles who used to display his paintings and hide behind them to listen to the comments. Once a cobbler pointed out that the sole of the shoe was not painted correctly. Apelles fixed it and encouraged by this the cobbler began offering comments about other parts of the painting. At this point the painter cut him off with “Ne sutor ultra crepidam” meaning “Shoemaker, not above the sandal” or one should stick to one’s area of expertise.
Addition: The story was told by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder, hence Latin.

USAGE:
“The authors of Freakonomics ... could be accused of displaying ultracrepidarian tendencies themselves, after eschewing the strictly economic analyses of their earlier mega best-sellers to publish what is more or less a self-help tome.”
Tim Walker; The Freak Show Goes On And On; The Independent (London, UK); May 23, 2014.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
On stage, I make love to 25,000 different people, then I go home alone. -Janis Joplin, singer-songwriter (19 Jan 1943-1970)

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