The Toad's Words

Excursus #12

The nice thing about writing The Toad's Words is that my readers teach me a lot of things. After Toad #11, for example, it was pointed out to me that 'olio' is a very common crossword puzzle word meaning: stew, jumble, medley, melange, mixture, mishmash, potpourri, assortment, collection, hodgepodge, hotchpotch, and miscellany. Boy, am I glad Pam reads sleazy romance novels or I wouldn't have learned all of that.

'Olio' also led to a discussion of the word 'oleo.' You know that there are some people that have never heard margarine referred to as 'oleo.' I was pretty old before I ever heard 'oleo' referred to as 'margarine.' The part I didn't know was that 'oleo' also meant 'oeograph' which is a chromolithograph that is made to look like an oil painting. I think most of these hang above beds in cheap hotels. Oleum is the Latin word for oil, in case anyone wanted to know that.

Enmity, noun

The mutual hatred that enemies have for each other. Hostility, animosity.

Not surprisingly, this word comes from the same Latin word that enemy comes from - inimicus, which is formed from the prefix in (meaning not) and amicus (meaning friend). Guess where 'amiable' and 'amicable' come from, or even 'inimical,' for that matter.

The enmity that brewed between the Hatfields and the McCoys was always heightened when the moon shined bright.

Umbrage, noun

The suspicion that one has been injured or insulted. Offense or resentment.

One usually takes 'umbrage'. The Latin word umbra means shadow. Originally, umbrage meant 'a shadow or suspicion cast on someone.'

The McCoys took umbrage when one of their daughters turned up pregnant after a date with a Hatfield.


Aphasia, noun

Pronounced [a (as in about) fay zha], accent on fay.

The total or partial loss of the ability to understand words or language or to articulate ideas.

This is usually a result of brain damage but has been known to result from watching too much Baywatch. The word results from the Greek a meaning 'without' and phàsis meaning 'utterance.'

The McCoy's moonshine was known to cause aphasia as well as paralysis.

Languid, adjective

Being sluggish or dull in character or disposition. Weak, without energy. Lacking force or quickness of movement. A slow or lazy manner.

It was never clear whether the white lightning or the inbreeding is what gave the Hatfield's and the McCoy's their languid nature.

Palliate, verb

To lessen or mitigate something without curing the cause. Relieving the symptoms without curing the disease. Palliate can also mean concealment, such as incriminating facts.

The traditional Greek cloak that was draped over the left shoulder and around the body was referred to by the Romans as a pallium. Hence, to cloak or conceal comes from this garment.

The McCoy's tried to palliate their enmity of the Hatfield's by exterminating them.

Disclaimer: The author, his peers, friends, and colleagues in no way take responsibility for crossed-eyed glances, slapped faces, rejected offers, or any draconian consequences as a result of using The Toad's Words.

Revised: August 27, 2000

Copyright © by Michael L. VanBlaricum, 04 September 2000.

All Rights Reserved.

All broadcasts, publication, retransmission, copying or storage, including on CD-ROM, listservers, BBSs, WWW, FTP archives, or anywhere else, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.