Question Of The Week 5-26-2021

Do you think aliens exist?

It depends on how you define aliens. Merriam-Webster says:

Definition of alien

 1a: belonging or relating to another person, place, or thing STRANGE an alien environment

b: relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government FOREIGN alien residents

c: EXOTIC sense 1 alien plants

d: coming from another world EXTRATERRESTRIAL alien beings an alien spaceship When it comes to knowing what alien life forms might be like, we don’t have any idea.— Kate Shuster

2: differing in nature or character typically to the point of incompatibility ideas alien to democracy

We all know, don’t we, that in this sense we are talking about beings from another world. Really, however, all the definitions above could pertain to extraterrestrial life. But why do we have to go extraterrestrial? We are looking to the stars when we should be looking around us at all the ‘alien’ – ‘differing in nature or character typically to the point of incompatibility’- life around us.

Think of the octopus. It is one of the most intelligent forms of life and yet how alien is the little guy? The Blue Whale? Or the Dragon Fish which lives in the deepest depths of the ocean? How about Poison Dart Frogs? Or the jellyfish?

Even closer to home there are spider monkeys and gorillas. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Sure monkeys and lions aren’t considered alien, but then again, if they were on another planet and we’d never seen them before….. alien. Isn’t it just what we don’t consider to be like ourselves that we consider alien? If we saw lions on another planet, they would still be lions, but if we saw an octopi, what then? Would we wonder how long aliens had been living unknown on our own planet?

If this doesn’t convenience you, think of all the insects in the world. Many of them look alien to the core. I think we have enough aliens living here among us that we don’t need to look at to the stars.

Word of the Week 8-8-2018





a person who is very fond of and is usually a collector of teddy bears.


Arctophiles and children should make time for Teddy Melrose, the teddy bear museum, tea room and workshop …

—Juliet Clough, Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio)30 June 1996


from Greek arktos bear + -phile (denoting fondness for a specified thing.)

Collins English Dictionary



Word of the Week 6-27-2018


[sen-ahyt, -it]



Archaic. a week.


It had taken them only a sennight to travel from Sentarshadeen … into the heart of the lost Lands to face the power of Shadow Mountain.

Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory,To Light a Candle, 2004

She that I spake of, our great captain’s captain, / Left in the conduct of the boldIago, / Whose footing here anticipates our thoughts / A sennight ‘s speed.

William Shakespeare, Othello, 1622


The archaic English noun sennight means literally “seven nights,” i.e. a week.

The Old English form was seofan nihta.

Middle English had many forms,including soveniht, sevenight, seven nyght, sennyght.


Word of the Week 6-14-2018





A person whose official duty it is to examine or investigate something.

Historical A university official responsible for examining votes at university elections and announcing the result.



  • As usual in such cases, ‘Scrutator‘ proceeded to make short work of him.

  • Sharps and Flats

    John Nevil Maskelyne

  • Scrutator tells us that in the time of Mr. Meynell “it was not the fashion to have second horses in the field.”

  • The Horsewoman

    Alice M. Hayes

  • ‘Messrs. M. S. Giuseppi and W. A. Littledale were appointed scrutators of the ballot.’


1570–80; < Latin scrūtātor searcher, examiner, equivalent to scrūtā(rī) to examine (see scrutiny) + -tor -tor


Word of the Week 6-7-2018




A small stream or creek; small often dry tributary stream in southern Africa


The descent to the spruit, which is often a short, steep pitch and is then called a donga, needs careful driving, and the ascent up the opposite bank is for a heavy waggon a matter of great difficulty.
Impressions of South Africa

By the side of every “spruit” or brook one sees clumps of tall arum lilies filling every little water-washed hollow in the brook, and the ferns which make each ditch and water-course green and plumy have a separate shady beauty of their own.
Lippincott’s Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Volume 17, No. 100, April, 1876

The lack of health facilities presented an immediate risk to life, as did the possibility of contracting water-borne diseases from the spruit that flowed through the property.
ANC Daily News Briefing


From Dutch spruit. Cognate with English sprite, sprout.

Word of the Week 5-31-2018



necrological  – <!–

necrologist – <!–
\nə-ˈkrä-lə-jist, ne-\


A list of people who have died, especially in the recent past or during a specific period.

An obituary.


The first half begins with a necrology and calendar for the nuns, prioresses, and confessors of Maria Magdalena, as well as the General Masters of the Order based upon the Humbert prototype. –Sensual Encounters: Monastic Women and Spirituality in Medieval Germany 

Oh, and if I can include one other figure in this necrology, it was reported from London that the world’s oldest man, Henry Allingham, the last surviving World War I veteran, died at the very ripe age of 113. –Every Death Diminishes Me

This prompted Ted, who’s made necrology a specialty, to note that two prominent same-day deaths are rare. –David Finkle: The Breakfast Club Takes on Jackson, Fawcett, Sanford, Mrs. Madoff



New Latin necrologium, from necr- + -logium (as in Medieval Latin eulogium eulogy)

NEW! Time Traveler

First Known Use: 1799

Word of the Week 5-24-2018





pertaining to or resembling alchemy; alchemic.


He saw the true gold into which the beggarly matter of existence may be transmuted by spagyric art; a succession of delicious moments, all the rare flavours of life concentrated, purged of their lees, and preserved in a beautiful vessel.

Arthur Machen, The Hill of Dreams1907

I fear that many a practitioner of the spagyric art has perished handling it without due  respect.

Jacqueline Carey, Miranda and Caliban2017


The rare adjective spagyric comes from New Latin spagiricus “alchemical; alchemy; an alchemist” and was first used and probably coined by the Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus (c1493–1541). There is no trustworthy etymology for the word. Spagyric entered English in the late 16th century.

Word of the Week 4-19-2018


pan-tuh-fuh l, pan-tof-uh l, –toh-fuh l, –too-]



a slipper
a cork-soled pattern covering the forepart of the foot, worn in the 16th century.


… your art / Can blind a jealous husband, and, disguised / Like a milliner or shoemaker, convey / A letter in a pantofle or glove, / Without suspicion, nay at his table …Philip Massinger, The Emperor of the East, 1632

“I’ve lost a pantofle!” he whispered desperately.Sally Watson, The Outrageous Oriel, 2006


Pantofle “indoor shoe, slipper” comes from Middle French pantoufle, pantophle (and other spellings). The word occurs in other Romance languages, e.g., Occitan and Italian have pantofla (and other spellings), and Spanish has pantufla. Catalan changed the position of the l in original pantofla to plantofa under the influence of planta “sole (of the foot)”; compare English plantar (wart). Further etymology of pantofle is speculative. Pantofle entered English in the late 15th century.

Wednesday’s Word of the Week 4-11-2018




The love of enclosed, tight places.


For me, there is a strong connection, between this kind of claustrophilia, a love of curiosity cabinets and the concept of horror as applied to Victorian design.
Snug as a Bug in a Beautiful Box

That you would group these people along with the Austrians as part of the “free market crowd” only exposes your suffocating intellectual claustrophilia.
Matthew Yglesias &raquo; Macro Rap

With little doors you can close if you want to be really snug (there’s a thin line between claustrophilia and claustrophobia, though).
Snug as a Bug in a Beautiful Box

Sources said the MI6 agent was a fan of claustrophilia – in which people get sexual pleasure from confined spaces. | Top Stories


The word ‘claustrophilia’ comes from the Latin word ‘claustrum’ (“a shut in place”) +‎ ‘-philia’.

Wednesday’s Word of the Week 3-28-2018






abnormal, persistent, irrational fear of failure.


This is the last word that someone with kakorrhaphiophobia would want to encounter in a spelling bee.


The origin of the word kako is Greek (meaning bad) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear).