meretricious · /ˌmɛrɪˈtrɪʃəs/ · /MAIR-ih-TRISH-əs/. adjective and noun. Of, related to, or befitting a prostitute. Gaudy, flashy, superficially attractive. Insincere. Etymonline notes the lovely, early definition, “pertaining to harlots.” ¶ From merētrix (prostitute), from merēre (to earn money). From the PIE root (s)mer- (to get a share of something), from which we also derive words such as demerit, polymer, and turmeric. ¶ I just like it because it’s one of those words that seems it should mean its opposite. Is there a word for that?[Read more…]
monophobia · /mah-nuh-FOE-bee-uh/ · /mɒnəʊˈfəʊbɪə/. noun. A severe, even morbid fear of being alone. Also, a generic term for a single, simple or specific phobia. From Greek mono- (alone, single, sole, only) + -phobia (a fear of, or aversion to, something). See also: eremophobia, isolophobia.[Read more…]
mudlark / mudlarking. noun or verb. Rarely, slang for a hog. Traditionally, a street urchin or scavenger (or the activities of such); now, hobbyists and treasure seekers who search in muddy areas along rivers. Also, a generic name for various birds that like muddy environments, particularly the magpie lark and Australian slang for a racehorse that excels on muddy tracks.
misprision /mis-PRIZH-ən/. noun. Misconduct or neglect of duty by a public official. Rarely, legally, the concealing of—or failing to prevent—treason or a felony committed by someone else. More generally, a mistake. Also a term used by literary critic Harold Bloom to describe strong writers who misread or misinterpret their influences and forebears in order to create a creative space for themselves. From Old French mesprision (error); from Latin prendre (take).
megachiropteran /meg-ə-kər-OPT-ər-ən/. noun or adjective. Of or pertaining to the suborder Megachiroptera, which includes herbivorous fruit bats and flying foxes. Despite the “mega” in the name, this order includes some microbats as small as 2.4 inches long! These bats are distinguished by smooth-crowned molars and a claw on the index finger.
Thanks to Reader S. for suggesting the word and sending a link to the page discussing why this is the best anagram in English (with “cinematographer”) and how it was found(scroll past the tech stuff) and listing some other awesome anagrams. :: Also, the full list of anagrams by score and real soapstone teaspoons.
“Moles and shrews still feed almost exclusively on insects, while various bat species (especially among the Megachiroptera, that other suborder) have attained much larger sizes and diverged into diets of fruit, nectar and pollen, fish, other bats, small birds and rodents, lizards, and blood.” (David Quammen)
malison /mal-i-zən/. noun. A curse. A malediction. The opposite of a benison. From Old French maleiçon (curse, to speak ill).
meatus /mee-AYT-əs/. noun. A natural bodily passageway or its opening, such as the external auditory meatus (the ear). From Latin meātus (passage), from meāre (to go, pass).
“He has an arrival routine where he skips the front entrances and comes in through the south side’s acoustic meatus and gets a Millennial Fizzy® out of the vending machine…” (David Foster Wallace)
“…in the meantime, come to Paris and you will find me, headphones plugged tight in my external audio meatus, walking the quays…” (David Sedaris)
“He had produced a razor from some abyssal pocket and was lovingly whittling a live match. This when pointed according to his God he used to pierce a deep meatus in a fresh cigar…” (Samuel Beckett)
“Or they may instead be mentioned, as I shall this moment mention ‘swive,’ a term which Barth has beautifully blown his breath upon and thus attempted to revive. I, myself, have had no success with ‘grampalingus,’ ‘meatus foetus,’ or ‘mulogeny’—a sentence which, if you could not see the quotes around the words you might think meant I’d tried them all and failed. Well, no one listens to what they see.” (William H. Gass)