Thursday, February 03, 2005

Word o' the day

For some reason I really like the word "asinine"; the definition found in Merriam-Webster I find just perfectly expresses its meaning:

marked by inexcusable failure to exercise intelligence or sound judgment

This definition, I think in large part due to the use of "inexcusable", just perfectly evokes the "head-shaking" nature of a truly asinine act. Its etymology is something I had never really thought about until today, but it is sort of obvious in retrospect (from the OED):

[ad. L. asin{imac}nus, f. asinus ass: see -INE1.]

1. Of or pertaining to asses.

1624 BOLTON Nero 246 Her fiue hundred female asses..her asinine dayrie. 1641 MILTON Educ. Wks. 1738 I. 137 That asinine feast of sowthistles. 1873 LONGFELLOW Monk Casal Magg. 157 Since monkish flesh and asinine are one.


2. Having the qualities by which the ass is characterized; obstinate, stupid, doltish.

c1610 CHAPMAN Iliad, To Reader 225 Your asinine souls, Proud of their burdens, feel not how they gall. 1781 COWPER Convers. 209 'Tis the most asinine employ on earth, To hear them tell of parentage and birth. 1859 HELPS Friends in C. Ser. II. I. ii. 153 And I..should be asinine enough to go.

Also interesting are sources of some of the early quotations; use of the word places you in the distinguished company of Milton and Chapman.

1 Comments:

Blogger Celestial said...

Zevatron is extremely and unnecesarily dirty. What is all this talk of 100 feminine asses in a blog supposedly about etymology? And the other day it was you-know-what.

7:32 PM  

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