Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

Awesome Wordspithy

At the end of the spectrum opposite of people who stammer or beat around the proverbial bush, there are those who are pithy (PITH-ee). To be pithy is to be several things—namely, brief, to-the-point, and potent. One who is pithy says what needs to be said in a concise, efficacious, and strong manner.

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Mark Jacobs. Mark is a volunteer assistant editor for Jet Fuel Review. He is double-majoring in Physics and Air Traffic Control Management at Lewis, but the left side of his brain is an avid writer. Mark is a junior and works as a ramp traffic controller at O’Hare and at Panera Bread, from which he does not steal dozens of bagels every day. He is also a tutor in Lewis’ Writing Center.

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Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

Awesome Words
soporific

Undoubtedly, at some point in your college career, you’ve had a class or two which put you to sleep. Despite wanting, in earnest, to learn the fine points of something completely unrelated to your major, you found every lecture to be a test of your ability to keep your eyelids up and yawns from taking over your face.

How ever is one to go about describing such a class? A good way would be, “That class is positively soporific!” (sop-or-IF-ick).

Anything which makes you sleepy is soporific. Sleep aids, for example, are (in theory, at least) soporific. Monotonic lectures exceeding two hours in length are sure to be soporific. Math classes at eight in the morning, long visits with your reticent great grandparents, and listening to your beloved wind on at great length about the troubles of his/her day may all be things which leave you feeling drowsy and are, therefore, soporific. Other examples are peculiar to the individual experiencing them—plane rides, for example, are acutely soporific for some persons but nerve-wracking for others.

While soporific works quite well as an adjective (“The slow walk through the turtle exhibit at the zoo was downright soporific!”), it can also be a noun. A sleeping pill, for example, is a soporific. A massage chair might be a soporific, as are—one rather imagines—most beds.

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Mark Jacobs. Mark is a volunteer assistant editor for Jet Fuel Review. He is double-majoring in Physics and Air Traffic Control Management at Lewis, but the left side of his brain is an avid writer. Mark is a junior and works as a ramp traffic controller at O’Hare and at Panera Bread, from which he does not steal dozens of bagels every day. He is also a tutor in Lewis’ Writing Center.

Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

Awesome Words

moot

It is raining very lightly, outside (where it usually rains).  Come to think of it, it may not be raining at all—it’s just a bit wet, still, from the rain that’s been falling all morning.

Inside, a patron at a shop looks out the window and sees a car pull up with its windshield wipers flapping at nearly full speed.
“That person’s going to ruin their wiper blades,” says the patron, deeply concerned (evidently) with the well-being of this stranger’s automobile.
“How?” says the patron’s companion.
“Well, look at them,” he/she/it replies.  “They’ve got them on full speed, but there’s practically no water on the windshield at all.  They’re just rubbing away on the glass.”
“So?”
“So?!  So that’s how you ruin your wiper blades!”
“What?  Nonsense.  I don’t think having your wiper blades just going up and down hurts them.”
“Of course it does.  They’re grinding on the glass.”
“They’re not ‘grinding’ on anything,” the patron’s companion replies, dismissively.
“They’re not meant to be used on dry glass,” says the patron.  “That’s bad for them.”
At that moment, it began to rain ferociously.
“It’s a moot point,” says his/her/its companion.   “They’re their wiper blades, not ours.”
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Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

Awesome Wordsqualia

Suppose that meet a Martian.  This Martian has spent its entire life drifting in the voids of space, always moving in a straight line (and having a fine old time doing it).

Now, you start talking to the Martian and say something to it like, “My!  You should look at those stars over to your left.  They’re swell!”  (And, let’s be honest, isn’t that the most likely thing you’d say to a drifting Martian?)

The Martian responds by asking, “What do you mean, ‘left’?”

“Oh, you know,” you respond, chuckling, “to your left… on your… left—the side that’s not your right.”

“I don’t understand,” the Martian answers.  For a while, you attempt to convey to the Martin just what “left” is, but you find—discouragingly—that you can’t.  It’s impossible.

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Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

Awesome Words
mores

Many have noted that there exist, in society and civilizations throughout the world, certain unwritten rules and standards that are peculiarly more significant and more pervasive than others.  Some of these rules don’t even make much sense, but are steadfast nonetheless.

In America, marijuana is, rather by default, considered more sinister than alcohol, even though science has thoroughly proven that alcohol is more destructive and addictive.  While plenty of people quietly (and only quietly, you’ll note) admit to smoking marijuana, it’s something that would instantly disqualify a presidential candidate or take the wind out of any serious business meeting.  The same presidential candidate, however, might be seen as manly if consuming a cold beer on a hot summer’s day while doing whatever men do—chopping wood, say.  Likewise, that formal business meeting is may be accompanied by fine liquor.  Nevertheless, our society holds invariably that marijuana is just, somehow, worse—or, more accurately, less acceptable.

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Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week


Awesome Words
scalawag

Way back in the 1860s, there were Southerners who rather disliked the notion of lopping half the country off and calling it something new.  They were of the thoroughly unpopular opinion that certain things which Northerners supported (such as ending slavery) were not such a bad idea after all.  Unsurprisingly, this view did not go down well with the majority of southern citizens (a category which, prior to the abolition of slavery, did not include the huge number of slaves in the south).

While white Southerners had never particularly fancied their above-the-Mason-Dixon-line neighbors, it wasn’t until after the Civil War that they started to consider themselves better.  Rather than accept the changing tides of racial equality, many Southern whites developed an attitude of cultural supremacy in addition to racial.  They coined the term “carpetbaggers” to refer to Northern whites who moved to the south (often carrying baggage made of disused carpeting).  Their dislike was not without reason—the whites, who were accustomed to living without the servitude of slaves, were often better able to adapt to a slavery-free environment and capitalize on the prospects of reconstruction.

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Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

Awesome Words
auspicious

Somewhere between “good” and “lucky” there lies an elusive range of promising developments which portend a bright future, and for these, we need a word.  For example, suppose that you are a recent graduate of a certain University’s air traffic control program, and are waiting to get hired by the FAA.  When the FAA is considering hiring someone, they send them a “tentative offer letter” which—as the name suggests—is no guarantee of employment.  It is, however, an auspicious (aw’SPISH’us) development, at least letting the aspiring controller know that his or her application is being considered.

Auspicious does not mean “lucky”.  Luck is rather random, having little to do with planning.  It’s lucky, for example, if you win the lottery—it could happen to anyone [who plays the lottery].  Auspicious occasions tend to involve a higher degree of human involvement.  For example, Panera Bread restaurants generate huge quantities of fresh bakery items each day, many of which they don’t sell and must therefore throw away at the end of the day.  At the same time, there are plentitudes of food banks and homeless shelters which need donations.  The auspicious combination of these two realities creates a circumstance where the restaurant can bake lots of fresh goods each day and give the leftovers to the charitable organizations, thus maintaining a reputation for freshness without developing one for wastefulness.

The word “auspicious” simply means promising success, suggesting good things, or working out quite well in the end.

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Mark Jacobs.  Mark is a volunteer assistant editor for Jet Fuel Review.  He is double-majoring in Physics and Air Traffic Control Management at Lewis, but the left side of his brain is an avid writer.  Mark is a junior and works as a ramp traffic controller at O’Hare and at Panera Bread, from which he does not steal dozens of bagels every day.  He is also a tutor in Lewis’ Writing Center.