Post 14

Big Words: Breaking out the Dictionary

I’m usually too lazy to look up words that I’m unfamiliar with; I guess I forget that it’s just a quick internet search away and I don’t want to haul out the dictionary.  Besides, context is usually enough of a clue to get the drift and keep going, but now it occurs to me that I could keep a running list of ‘new-to-me’ (I know, not to you) words and it would keep me motivated to keep learning.  And as the English vocabulary erodes at breakneck speed, it might be nice to go in the other direction, putting the spotlight on these less frequently used words.

Casuistry: I came across this word twice within a couple of days, from different sources: “I have never talked about impurity, and I have always avoiding falling into a distasteful and meaningless casuistry. (St. Josemaria Escriva, “Marriage: A Christian Vocation” in Christ is Passing By)” AND “However, in Jesus’ time, in some places, rabbinical casuistry had led to the accretion of so many rules that people lost sight of what true worship of God meant. (The Navarre Bible, commentary on Mk 7: 1-23).
= the determination of right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by the application of general principles of ethics.

Succour: “The Lord allowed his disciples to enter danger to make them suffer, and he did not immediately come to their aid; he left them in peril for the whole night, to teach them to be patient and not to be accustomed to receiving immediate succour in tribulation. (Theophylact, as quoted in The Navarre Bible, commentary on Mk 6:45-52).
= assistance or help in time of distress.

Rancour: “Charity is a prerequisite for prayer: when one approaches God in prayer, one must not harbour rancour or any other feeling that is unworthy of God.” (The Navarre Bible, commentary on Mk 11:12-25).
= bitter, long-lasting resentment; deep-seated ill will [like the word ‘rancid,’ this word comes from the Latin word rancere, which means to stink]

Bathos: I’ve heard of pathos but not bathos: “Arnold refers to [St. Francis of Assisi’s] asceticism as if it were an unlucky but undeniable blot on the beauty of the story; or rather as if it were a pitiable break-down and bathos at the end of the story. Now this is simply to be stone-blind to the whole point of any story. (G.K. Chesterton, Saint Francis of Assisi, Chapter 1)
= a ludicrously abrupt transition from an elevated to a commonplace style OR an anticlimax OR (as in this quotation) the lowest point, a nadir. Comes from the Greek word for depth, from bathus, for deep.

Subterfuge: “Our Lord calls us to internalize the commandments – by being generous and open-hearted, by not suing subterfuges or merely giving lip-service, etc.”  (Navarre Bible, Commentary on Matthew 5:17-48.)
= An evasive tactic used to avoid censure or other awkward confrontation.  Example: “the paltry subterfuge of an anonymous signature.”  Synonym: artifice.  From the Latin word subterfugere, meaning to flee secretly.

Calumny: “The passage also tells us the seriousness of sins against charity (resentment, hatred etc.) which easily express themselves outwardly (in gossip, backbiting, calumny etc.)” (Navarre Bible, Commentary on Matthew 5:17-48)
= A false statement, maliciously or knowingly made to injure someone.  From the Latin word calumnia, meaning trickery or deception.   So this one is really bad because it’s deliberate!

Endue: “May Jesus endue your soul with life and by his grace make it always dearer to him.” (Letter of Padre Pio to Padre Agostino, written October 4, 1915, from Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, Letters, Correspondence with His Spiritual Director)
= to provide with some quality or trait, and that sense of the word comes the Latin’s inducere, to induce, or
= to clothe, and this sense of the word comes from Latin’s induere, to don.
I find it interesting that this word has ‘two parents’!