Tag Archives: etymology

Lacks Con • fi • dence


Con • fi • dence

confidence Look up confidence at Dictionary.comearly 15c., from M.Fr. confidence or directly from L. confidentia, from confidentem (nom. confidens) “firmly trusting, bold,” prp. of confidere “to have full trust or reliance,” from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + fidere “to trust” (see faith). For sense of “swindle” see con (3).

  1. full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing: We have every confidence in their ability to succeed.
  2. belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance: His lack of confidence defeated him.
  3. certitude; assurance: He described the situation with such confidence that the audience believed him completely.
  4. a confidential communication: to exchange confidences.

con (3) Look up con at Dictionary.comswindling” (adj.), 1889, Amer.Eng., from confidence man (1849), from the many scams in which the victim is induced to hand over money as a token of confidence. Confidence with a sense of “assurance based on insufficient grounds” dates from 1590s. As a verb, “to swindle,” from 1896. Con also can be a slang or colloquial shortening of some nouns beginning in con-, e.g., from the 19th century, confidant, conundrum, conformist, convict, contract, and from the 20th century, conductor, conservative.

For more fun with words, see the Online Etymology Dictionary.

May the gods smite the smug


May the gods smite the smug
smug (adj.) Look up smug at Dictionary.com1550s, “trim, neat, spruce, smart,” possibly an alteration of Low Ger. smuk “trim, neat,” from M.L.G. smücken “to adorn,” and smiegen “to press close” (see smock). The meaning “having a self-satisfied air” is from 1701, an extension of the sense of “smooth, sleek” (1580s), which was commonly used of attractive women and girls. Related: Smugly; smugness.

  1. contentedly confident of one’s ability, superiority, or correctness; complacent.
  2. trim; spruce; smooth; sleek.
smite (v.) Look up smite at Dictionary.comO.E. smitan “to hit, strike, beat” (strong verb, pt. smat, pp. smiten), from P.Gmc. *smitanan (cf. Swed. smita, Dan. smide “to smear, fling,” O.Fris. smita, M.L.G., M.Du. smiten “to cast, fling,” Du. smijten “to throw,” O.H.G. smizan “to rub, strike,” Ger. schmeißen “to cast, fling,” Goth. bismeitan “to spread, smear”), perhaps from PIE root *(s)mei- “to smear, to rub,” but original sense in Germanic seems to be of throwing. Sense of “slay in combat” (c.1300) is originally Biblical, smite to death, first attested c.1200.

Funk • y


Funk • y [fuhng-kee]

funk (1) Look up funk at Dictionary.com“depression, ill-humor,” 1743, probably originally Scottish and northern English; earlier as a verb, “panic, fail through panic,” (1737), said to be 17c. Oxford University slang, perhaps from Flem. fonck “perturbation, agitation, distress,” possibly related to O.Fr. funicle “wild, mad.”

  1. cowering fear; state of great fright or terror.
  2. a dejected mood: He’s been in a funk ever since she walked out on him.

verb (used with object)

  1. to be afraid of.
  2. to frighten.
  3. to shrink from; try to shirk.

funk (2) Look up funk at Dictionary.com“bad smell,” 1620s, from dialectal Fr. funkière “smoke,” from O.Fr. fungier “give off smoke; fill with smoke,” from L. fumigare “to smoke” (see fume). In reference to a style of music, it is first attested 1959, a back formation from funky.

funky Look up funky at Dictionary.com1784, “old, musty,” in reference to cheeses, then “repulsive,” from funk (2) + -y (2). It began to develop an approving sense in jazz slang c.1900, probably on the notion of “earthy, strong, deeply felt.” … The word reached wider popularity c.1954 (e.g. definition in “Time” magazine, Nov. 8, 1954) and in the 1960s acquired a broad slang sense of “fine, stylish, excellent.”

For more fun with words, see the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Emem Neophytos Ameretat Korbinian Sissinnguaq


reflect on this year and manifest what’s next

New Name. Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

Saint Barbara

I’ve never really liked my name. As a little girl, my family called me Barbie. They were thinking cute. However, I realized by 4th grade that this was completely offensive and insulting on a number of levels. First of all, I wasn’t blond, air-headed, or a bimbo, thank you very much.

So when 5th grade started, I decided to change my name to B.J., for my first two initials. That brought on a little snickering here and there, but at least it stopped the Barbie label for those outside my family. Long lost relatives and friends of the family had a harder time giving it up, but I wasn’t shy about expressing my visceral disgust at the name if they even innocently let it pass their lips.

After 5th grade, I reverted to Barb. It was boring and old-fashioned sounding, but tolerable. I’ve always wished, however, that I had been given a unique name. Barbara’s not the most common name of my generation, but it’s common enough (I didn’t know that it’s been a masculine name choice as well, peaking in 1938). In fact, although it wasn’t too popular by 1970, it was in the top 5 U.S. names for girls in the 30s, 40s, & 50s. I’ve never understood why my parents picked three typical names for their children, but maybe it’s because they were names they had heard a lot growing up. My mom had a fairly common name, but my Dad had a highly unusual name (for his century, at least). I wonder which one of them had more influence choosing the names? I remember mom, who worked for the school district, complaining sometimes about the names parents chose for their children and how the kids should not have to be teased in school because their parents gave them a weird name. So it was probably her.

As a result of my boring name angst, I decided early on that I would name my children very uniquely, and started keeping name lists in my journals. If only I knew where those journals were, I would share a few of those gems with you. But since I do not, I’m forced to poke around at places like http://www.behindthename.com, the etymology and history of first names. I love discovering word origins [geek].

Alas, my step-kids came pre-named (two with common names, one with a pretty unique name), and I’ve only had the opportunity to name a series of animal friends. Connecticut (girl), Queequeg (girl), Tundra (girl), Pip (girl), Algernon (boy), Nevermore (girl), Tamias (boy), Isis (girl), Deimos (boy), and Archimedes, Arcturus, & Hera (foster kittens)—and those are only the ones whose names we changed. How’d we do?

All this is really not bringing me to an idea for a new name. How about a name borrowed from some of my favorite species; Corvus Crazicus, Loxodonta, Acinonyx, Archaeopteryx (or Urvogel), anyone? Or this Native American name suggested by behindthename.com: Sissinnguaq, meaning squirrel in Greenlandic. Or Ameretat, the name of a Zoroastrian goddess of plants and long life. Neophytos, Ancient Greek, meaning newly planted (even if it is a boy’s name). I like the simplicity of the African Emem, meaning “peace” in Ibibio. And Korbinian is derived from Latin corvus meaning “raven.” That’s it, for one day only, I’d like you to call me Emem Neophytos Ameretat Korbinian Sissinnguaq.