Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wednesday's Word: Sesquipedalian

Yes, it's a word....and yes, I know I'm a day late (umm...and a dollar or two short, as usual).

Main Entry: ses·qui·pe·da·lian
Pronunciation: \ˌses-kwə-pə-ˈdāl-yən\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin sesquipedalis, literally, a foot and a half long, from sesqui- + ped-, pes foot — more at foot
Date: 1656

1 : having many syllables : long 2 : given to or characterized by the use of long words

Ha Ha! Such and apt definition for such a long, multi-syllabic word. I'd never heard this word until I was recently perusing my current Newsweek magazine. I rarely read a magazine article from beginning to end, and this is no exception, but in this week's edition, toward the back is an article titled "Remember Them Well"...a tribute to many of the well-known actors, politicians, scientists, writers, athletes, journalists, etc. who died this last year. A few notable names that made me say..."Aw, what a shame...": Bernie Mac, Yves Saint Laurent, Sydney Pollack, Arthur C. Clark, Charlton Heston, Heath Ledger, Michael Crichton, Robert Mondavi, Estelle Getty, Bo Diddley, Edmund Hillary, George Carlin, Isaac Hayes, Paul Newman.

And three of particular note.

1. Randy Pausch. (Beware...this is a long one, but worth it.) Wondering about the worth of a life? Are you bored? Considering a bucket list? Give this a listen. This guy was given a very short, finite amount of time to do with as he would. So...he inspired thousands. Not bad for 12 months' work.

2. Bettie Page. Hot, hawt, and haute... She was a whole lotta woman...a conundrum, a fiasco, a juxtaposition, naughty and nice, sugar and spice...the muse of the erotic world who turned away from her fame, found religion, and went a little nutty in the end. But her influence on fashion, erotic film and photography, and women's sexuality cannot be denied.

3. William F. Buckley Jr. Okay, not someone I would normally pay homage to, BUT...Newsweek's entry on him is what inspired today's word, so I feel I must spotlight him to some degree. Here's the entry that grabbed my attention (page 85, 12/29/08-1/5/09): "Sure he was the father of American conservatism, the founder of National Review and the champion of Goldwater and Reagan. But he also had one of the century's most perspicacious, peripatetic minds (and he loved sesquipedalian words). He was an expert on sailing, spy novels--and the harpsichord. He died, working, at his desk. Which is just what you'd expect from someone whose collected papers weighed seven tons."


Oh...and R.I.P.

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