The word lie, meaning to speak falsely or tell an untruth, has been part of the English language since the 1100s. Its roots are buried deep in Germanic languages. Lie’s linguistic cousins show up in Norse (ljuga), Danish, (lyve), Gothic, (liugan), Frisian, (liaga), & German (lugen).
It shouldn’t surprise us that we have an impressive number of synonyms, near-synonyms & idioms available to substitute for that terribly direct & offensive three-letter word, lie.
Instead of lying, businesslike folk might reframe, mislead, evade, misspeak, or misstate, while artsy types might buff, burnish, embroider, or fictionalize. We can also whitewash, inflate, dissemble, or spin, and those of us who lie regularly can lay claim to any number of afflictions: necessary disingenuity, factual flexibility, serial exaggeration, or the ever-popular; fictitious disorder syndrome.
Ah, but all lies are not equal. For instance, to lie is to make a deliberately false statement, to prevaricate is to quibble or confuse in order to avoid the truth, to fabricate is to invent a false story, to equivocate is to deliberately use ambiguity to mislead, & to fib is to tell a falsehood about something unimportant.
Good readers if you have any thoughts on all this dishonesty, I’d love to read them in the comments section.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: Ralph Keyes’ Euphemania, the 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Disney Images, Wordnik, Etymonline, & the OED.
I would like thoughts of peace to be on my mind always, & it seems these days have inspired an even stronger urge to bring peace to the forefront of my thinking.
The word peace came to English in the 1100s, meaning freedom from civil disorder. It came to English through Old French from the Latin word pacem or pax. Our modern word pact more closely reflects the initial meaning of peace’s Proto-Indo-European root, pag or pak, which meant to make firm, to join together, to agree.
Ah, that we humans of the world might join together & firmly agree on peace.
Some modern synonyms for peaceful include:
placid, an undisturbed & unruffled calm
calm, a total absence of agitation or disturbance
tranquil, a more intrinsic & permanent peace than the peace suggested by the word calm.
serene, an exalted tranquility
harmonious, musical agreement or settled governmental order
In lieu of leaving a comment for this post, I’m hoping we can all instead bring peaceful thought & action to the forefront, & maybe, just maybe (with all due respect to Margaret Meade) a small group of thoughtful word nerds can change the world for the better.
My thanks go out to this week’s sources: OED, Merriam Webster, Wordnik,Webster’s New World Dictionary, 1959, & Etymonline
My affinity for old dictionaries should be no surprise to Wordmonger followers. This appreciation has been fueled by experience with watered-down newer dictionaries, or – sadder still – “student dictionaries” that may as well have had the marrow sucked out of their bones.
I can find no Old Dictionary Appreciation Day, Week, or Month, so I’ve decided to celebrate old dictionaries whenever the spirit moves me. This week is one such week.
It doesn’t take dusty, leather-bound dictionaries to stoke my fires. Dictionaries published as recently as the 1960s simply make me smile. I find what I need in them. They include the features I expect.
One such element is the “synonym” feature which closes the occasional entry. This feature takes similar words or terms & parses out the shades of meaning. Here are two synonym entries from my 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary:
“Intelligent implies the ability to learn or understand from experience or to respond successfully to a new experience; clever implies quickness in learning or understanding, but sometimes connotes a lack of thoroughness or depth; alert emphasizes quickness in sizing up a situation; bright and smart are somewhat informal, less precise equivalents for any of the preceding; brilliant implies an unusually high degree of intelligence; intellectual suggests keen intelligence coupled with interest and ability in the more advanced fields of knowledge.
Beautiful is applied to that which gives the highest degree of pleasure to the senses or to the mind and suggests that the object of delight approximates one’s conception of an ideal; lovely applies to that which delights by inspiring affection or warm admiration; handsome implies attractiveness by reason of pleasing proportions, symmetry, elegance, etc., and carries connotations of masculinity, dignity, or impressiveness; pretty implies a dainty, delicate or graceful quality in that which pleases and carries connotations of femininity or diminutiveness; comely applies to persons only and suggests a wholesome attractiveness of form and features rather than a high degree of beauty; fair suggests beauty that is fresh, bright or flawless; good-looking is closely equivalent to handsome or pretty, suggesting a pleasing appearance, but not expressing the fine distinctions of either word; beauteous in poetry and lofty prose is now often used in humorously disparaging references to beauty.
Is that poetry, or what?
Good followers, what bits of old dictionaries do you fancy?
My thanks go out to this week’s source, Webster’s 1959 New World Dictionary of the American Language
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.