Set 6 – Five New Words for Nov 5

1. Shibboleth

(SHIB-uh-lith, -leth)

1. The use of a word or pronunciation that distinguishes a group of people.
2. A slogan, belief, or custom that’s now considered outmoded.

The meaning of the term has now widened. It could be applied to anything, not just the pronunciation of a word, that distinguishes people. It could be a way of eating, dressing, etc.


“Kurdish Iraq’s two dominant parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, fought a civil war in the 1990s. Ordinary words turned into shibboleths. Using the word afrat for ‘woman’ revealed a link with the KDP; the PUK used the word zhin. Today, the two parties share power. This has resulted in an attempt at linguistic fusion that makes Ferhadi shudder: whenever political leaders refer to women, they say ‘afrat and zhin’ to show that they have overcome old divisions.”

“Osborne’s allies say his urge to win is greater than his eagerness to parrot Thatcherite shibboleths.”


2. hypocorism

1. A pet name.
2. The practice of using pet names.

“This must be an offshoot of my brother’s enthusiasm for hypocorism. He was always inventing idiotic nicknames for people.”

3. polysemous (puh-LIS-i-muhs, pol-ee-SEE-muhs)

adjective: Having multiple meanings.

“The polysemous ancient Greek word pharmakon strangely captures all of these apparently contradictory senses and meanings.”

polysemy (noun)  = the coexistence of many possible meanings for a word or phrase.
polysemantic (adj) = of words; having many meanings

4. lapsus linguae (LAP-suhs LING-gwee, LAHP-soos LING-gwy)

noun: A slip of the tongue.

Malapropisms and spoonerisms are two examples of lapsus linguae.
A lapsus calami is a slip of the pen.

“True, Bush mispronounced the name of Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, but not even that lapsus linguae could sour the mood in the first meeting between the two conservatives.”

5. paregmenon (puh-REG-muh-non)

noun: The juxtaposition of words that have the same roots. Examples: sense and sensibility, a manly man, the texture of textile.

“The Songs poets also used paregmenon for more than two words in succession (“Climbed those high hills,/ Ridged hills and higher heights”).


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