Thursday, 3 April 2008

Words of the Week #4

Bellwether \BEL-weth-uhr\, noun:
A leader of a movement or activity; also, a leading indicator of future trends.

is a compound of bell and wether, "a male sheep, usually castrated"; from the practice of hanging a bell from the neck of the leader of the flock.

Diablerie \dee-OB-luh-ree; -AB-\, noun:
1. Sorcery; black magic; witchcraft.
2. Representation of devils or demons in words or pictures.
3. Mischievous conduct; deviltry.

Diablerie comes from the French, from diable, devil, from Latin diabolus, from Greek diabolos, "slanderer," from diaballein, "to slander," literally "to throw across," from dia-, "across" + ballein, "to throw."

Triskaidekaphobia \tris-ky-dek-uh-FOH-bee-uh\, noun:
A morbid fear of the number 13 or the date Friday the 13th.

is from Greek treiskaideka, triskaideka, thirteen (treis, three + kai, and + deka, ten) + phobos, fear.

In Christian countries the number 13 was considered unlucky because there were 13 persons at the Last Supper of Christ. Fridays are also unlucky, because the Crucifixion was on a Friday. Hence a Friday falling on the thirteenth day is regarded as especially unlucky.

Gustatory \GUS-tuh-tor-ee\, adjective:
Of or pertaining to the sense of taste.

derives from Latin gustatus, "taste," from gustare, "to taste, to take a little of." Other words that have the same root include disgust and gusto ("vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment").

Hardscrabble \HARD-skrab-uhl\, adjective:
1. Yielding a bare or meager living with great labor or difficulty.
2. Marked by poverty.

Hardscrabble is formed from hard (from Old English heard) + scrabble (from Dutch schrabbelen, "to scratch").


  1. Ooo good words. I love words, me. Hee hee. I especially like how gustatory rolls off the tongue. :D

  2. Thanks for the education. I find this very interresting. I guess I'm weird, I usually have good luck on Friday 13. Mostly Feb. 13 if it lands on Friday. THat's my mom's birthday.
    I have heard of people saying Friday 13 was bad luck, but never heard it broke down like this.

  3. I have the fear of the no 13....yup And iam sure when I was sleeping last nite some one touched my foot....sometimes I think it is my Grandma letting me know things will be okay. i hope so anyway.

  4. We once tried to get "concupiscence" into Committee reports at the county council. Without success

  5. I have always wondered about Friday the Thiteenth. Very interesting.

  6. Yes, I read the bit about Friday the 13th to Bill. Fascinating!


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