Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Word of the day (well, several, actually)

Try these on for size. I've been saving them up.

quince - noun. This comes from the Middle English, quynce, plural of coyn, quyn, from Middle French, coin and ultimately from the Greek kydonion. This term properly refers to the fruit of a central Asian tree, Cydonia oblonga, or to the tree itself. There is at least one of these growing in the Cloisters, in Upper Manhattan.

quid pro quo - noun. A latin term. Someone recently used this in a talk I heard, and I was chagrined at not knowing it. Old Merriam-Webster has relieved my distress, but I still don't know what the heck the speaker meant, having completely forgotten the context of the utterance. It means, literally, "something for something," or something given or received for something else. I gather this could be called a swap.

obfuscation - noun. Derived from the verb obfuscate, itself from latin obfuscare: ob- in the way plus fuscus, dark brown. While the verb means to darken or confuse, the noun must mean darkness or confusion. This is very unclear.

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