Archive for ‘Word of the Day’

January 29, 2015

Word of the day: Moiety

by Janie Jones

I’m usually pretty good with vocabulary.  But there is a word I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around.

Apparently moiety means one of two parts or one of the parts something can be divided into.  It’s used in chemistry and biology as in this glycolipid molecule has a lipid moiety.  I especially like how defines it:

A moiety is one of two equal parts. If you cut a sandwich in half, you can have one moiety for lunch and give the other moiety to a pigeon. 

I have no idea where the pigeon came from, nor why I should give it half my lunch.  But it goes on with a more rational explanation:

One moiety plus one moiety equals a whole. Moiety is a synonym for the noun half; a semicircle or your better half can be referred to as a moiety. In anthropology, moiety is used to describe one of two distinct groups of a tribe. Moiety can also mean “a part” in general, as Shakespeare used it in Antony and Cleopatra: “The death of Antony / Is not a single doom; in the name lay / A moiety of the world.”

And if you are less familiar with the word than I, you can even go to and listen to the pronunciation.

So, that was educational.  And, now we are all ready for that Jeopardy question where we have to answer, “What is moiety, Alex.”  Still when I think of the word and read it in texts and articles, my mind grinds to a halt.  I *know* what it means, but my brain refuses to compute it.

Well, I hope the larger moiety of your day is good.

January 10, 2015

It’s all in the cards, except when it’s literally not

by Janie Jones

I like to play Free Cell.  I usually play through a couple games while I eat breakfast in the morning.  But almost all week I’ve been stuck on one shuffle.

Now, if you’re not familiar with Free Cell, it’s a type of Solitare game.  As far as I know, every shuffle is win-able, if you literally play the cards right (no pun intended).  I’m currently running a 100% win rate.  However, some are real stumpers.  As it happens, Leif and I have different styles or strategies when playing.  Usually if one of us is stumped, the other can sit down and work it out.  Funny how the old brain box works differently from person to person.

But I sat down this morning with my bowl of cereal and I literally figured it out straight away, and though it’s just a dumb game of Solitare, it was kinda exciting.  As I’ve been doing little this week except work, sleep and surf Hulu and Netflix, it’s all I’ve got to pass as news.

Wait, that’s not literally true.  We were having a discussion in the tour guide office yesterday about the abuse of the word literally.  I hope that most of us realize the true meaning of literally, as in something that is completely, exactly so and undeniably true or correct.  But our modern snark-a-holism has so thoroughly abused the word in a sarcastic sense that now not just one, but apparently three dictionaries have amended the definition to mean the exact opposite.  Don’t believe me?  Catch the scoop at CNN or here at The Week.

Sure I love to be snarky and sarcastic as much as the next guy, but when we indulge in hyperbole with the GenPop who are too dull to understand the sarcasm and words are redefined as a result, well, I just must hang my head in disgust.  You literally cannot engage in a battle of wit with an unarmed person.  You know, they can’t pick up their weapons if they are missing arms!

Any how, having nothing to do besides give a few tours each day has been boring but the most lovely and wonderful kind of boring.  I mean, when else would I literally have time to make lame jokes about the word literally.  It’s going to be really hard to get back in the school groove when the break ends.

May 1, 2014

Word of the Day

by Janie Jones

I have always considered my vocabulary to be fairly comprehensive.  I’m an avid reader, and preferring classics often exposes me to words which have faded from common usage.  Plus, in my grade school experience I seem to recall a large focus on learning random vocabulary words every week up through the sixth grade.  While I haven’t always been a good speller, I’ve had a love hate relationship with my dictionary.  I hate looking up spellings (“How,” I would whine, “am I supposed to find a word listed in alphabetical order if I don’t know how it’s spelled?”) but I do love just reading all the meanings of words and looking up what long multisyllabic words mean.  Studying science also gives me exposure to a lot of Latin derivatives, and if you know the roots of words, you can often wrestle out the meanings of words you haven’t encountered before.

Just the other day, though, I was stumped.

A student from a professor other than the one I work for brought his essay assignment rubric to ask for help on how to prepare his essay.  One of the criteria was to consider the exigency of his topic.


I could only guess it meant whether or not the topic was pertinent and relevant in today’s society.

As it turns out I was wrong.  After coming home and consulting my well-worn dictionary I discovered that it essentially means requiring urgent action or attention.  Somehow I seriously doubt many Local College students will write a 2-3 page essay that meets this particular quality.

Unlike, of course, this blog’s material….