Wednesday, June 03, 2009

You're Never Too Old to Learn New Words

Everybody thinks they are average or above-average in certain categories, but until you take Statistics, you really don't understand the concept of standard distribution in a specific population.

For example, I think I have a pretty large vocabulary, what with all the writin', and the crossword-puzzle solvin' and readin' books without pictures and all that. But in a few-day span recently, I came across the same new word twice. One was in this book, written by a British guy about a British guy in London. The other was in this article about a British guy in Paris. So I figured, maybe it's a British/European thing.

So I emailed the author of the Esquire piece, Tom Chiarella, asking if he was British, figuring he was an Esquire big shot and I'd never hear back. To my surprise, Tom wrote me a nice, long note, confirming he is not British, but did live in London for a while, and picked up the word from a European author.

Anyway, we're big fans of words and rambling essays about using big words here at TMMPF. So, the word is "tumescence" and if you don't know what it means, uh, I guess you can look it up.

PS: Regarding the setup of the article, that Chiarella gave Clive Owen his own hard-earned cash to bet the ponies, Tom wrote to me: "it really was my own money. I've had a hard time getting anyone to believe me, including Clive."

PPS: I thought about creating a new tag for this post. But then I realized, we've already got 49 tags, and when am I ever going to use again the "British term for boner" tag??


sodeh said...

You know... For some reason I knew what that word meant. :-/

Don said...

When am I ever going to use again the "British term for boner" tag??


mpf004 said...

sodeh: it is quasi-medical ...

Anonymous said...

LOVE this website for those interested in learning about the origins of words. -Igoe

Aimee said...

That word was in the movie 10 Things I hate About You.