May 10, 2007


Stentorian blooms:
like so many trumpets

sten·to·ri·an adj. [sten-tawr-ee-uhn, -tohr-]
very loud or powerful in sound: a stentorian voice.
[Origin: 1595–1605; Stentor + -ian]
sten·to·ri·an·ly, adv.

From Unabridged

"of powerful voice," 1605,
from Stentor, legendary Gk. herald in the Trojan War, whose voice (described in the "Iliad") was as loud as 50 men.

[His name is from Gk. stenein "groan, moan." Also there is the O.E. element of þunor, "thunder."]

Fr. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001 Douglas Harper
IN USE, from the NYT:

After Mr.[Don] Imus's [racially and sexually demeaning] comments about the mostly black Rutgers [women's basketball] team, the hosts on two prominently black stations in New York—WQHT (97.1 FM) and WBLS (107.5)—have made references on their programs to the need to police themselves, and their callers, better.

"Itchin" Home of the
"Miss Jones Show"

Tarsha Nicole Jones, who as "Miss Jones" is host of a show on WQHT that reaches nearly 700,000 listeners a week, has taken to using "wenches" and "iches" as substitutes for harsher words, and she repremanded a caller on Monday for using a common racial slur twice.
Later the show ran a stentorian public service announcement that said, "Due to new regulations regarding the use of language, the 'Miss Jones Show' has made the appropriate adjustment."

—"Shock Radio Shrugs at Imus's Fall, And Roughs Up the Usual Victims," Jacques Steinberg, The New York Times National, Sunday, 6, 2007, 1 and 22.


Besides delivering the needed denotation of "a loud, powerful voice," stentorian brings two bonus felicities.

The first is that stentorian denotes a voice—"a loud, authoritative, spoken voice, talking of important matters"—but at bottom a voice, one of many that comprise the essence of talk radio. The word's a perfect fit.

The second felicity is that the word stentorian, a bookish word, condignly meets the expectations of the publisher and its audience. Readers of the
New York Times, the national newspaper of the intellectually elite, expect as a matter of course the apt use of precise words, words which often carry an academic cache, to be employed within its pages.



May 9, 2007


The Divine Comedy's

illustrated by
Gustave Dore.

empyrean adj. [em-pi- ree'-un or em-pur'-ee-un]
1. of or relating to the sky or heavens;
  • "the empyrean sphere"
2. inspiring awe;
  • "well-meaning ineptitude that rises to empyreal absurdity"—M.S. Dworkin;
  • "empyrean aplomb"—Hamilton Basso;
1. the apparent surface of the imaginary sphere on which celestial bodies appear to be projected [syn: celestial sphere]

Synonyms for the noun empyrean: firmament, heavens, vault of heaven, welkin

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

empyrean adj. & noun

From the Medieval Latin empyreus, an adaptation of the Ancient Greek, in or on the fire (pyr). Properly Empyrean Heaven, the place in the highest heaven, which in ancient cosmologies was supposed to be occupied by the element of fire (or aether in Aristotle's natural philosophy).

It was thus used as a name for the firmament, and in Christian literature, notably the Divine Comedy, for the dwelling-place of God and the blessed, and as the source of light.

The word is used both as a substantive [noun] and as an adjective. Having the same Greek origin are the scientific words empyreuma and empyreumatic, applied to the characteristic smell of burning or charring vegetable or animal matter.Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition.

Empyrean IN USE:
"[Kate] Blanchet, 38, this month, has graced heist movies (Bandits) and angsty art films (Coffee and Cigarettes). But she's really an emmissary from another, older world: the empyrean of classic movie glamour."—Richard Corliss. Time100, Artists & Entertainers, Time Magazine, May 14, 2007.

Kate Blanchett


[from Medieval Latin empyreus, empyræus, from the Greek - fiery) + -AL]

—————————————————————————————————————FROM FROM THE OED: ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES OF empyrean IN USE:

empyrean 1682
A. adj. Of or pertaining to the sphere of fire or highest heaven. Also used figuratively.
  • Above the starry sphere..finally the empyrean heaven, or heaven of heavens. 1796
  • Drenched in empyrean light. From the Courts of the Empyrean dome Came forth what seemed a fiery car.1805 WORDSWORTH, WILLIAM. Prelude IV. (1850) 98
empyrean 1667
B. noun 1. The highest heaven. In ancient cosmology the sphere of the pure element of fire: in Christian use, the abode of God and the angels. Also used figuratively.
  • The empyrean, the first work of creation and the residence and throne of God. 1755
  • The empyrean, or kingdom of fire. 1878
2. a. The visible heavens or firmament.
m||b. The whole extent of cosmic space.
  • The vast empyrean of the sky. 1821
  • The physical universe itself [becomes] a drop suspended in the infinite empyrean. 1880.
["Ascent to the|Empyrean,"/
Heronymus/Bosch. Above.]


May 8, 2007

pace (prep.)

—(pah'chay)—is Words Worthy's first featured preposition!
(Applause! ! ! !)
Stranded . . .
in the middle,
of the ocean,
on an island,
under a tree,
without my BlackBerry or Thee.

Preposition: a connecting word
that puts one [1]noun
into a relationship
with another [2]noun.

"The [1]temperature (of the [2]water)is dropping."

[1]Truthpace the Attorney General's [2]testimony—is still an orphan.

pace – preposition (pah'chay)
with all due respect to; with the permission of:

E.g. "I do not, pace my rival, hold with the ideas of the reactionists."

[Origin: 1860–65; (style="font-style: italic;")pāce in peace, by favor (also from pāx peace, favor, pardon, grace)] — Unabridged (v 1.1) Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

pace prep. (pah'chay)
With due deference to (a named person or authority); despite.

Used chiefly as a courteous or ironic apology for a difference of opinion about to be expressed.

E.g., "I do not believe, pace Peirce and Derrida, that it is signs all the way down, and that, pace Dennett, there is no distinctive human intentionality, and that, pace almost everyone, thinking is fundamentally linguistic."
—1995 Computers & Humanities 29 404/1—Oxford English Dictionary Online

pace prep.
By the leave of; with all deference to. Used in expressing polite disagreement.

When used in front of someone's name, it serves as an apology when contradicting him or her; such as:, "pace Dr. Smith"—Word Information. Robertson's Words for a Modern Age: A Dictionary of Latin and Greek Words used in Modern English Vocabulary (http:


[The Barak Obama candidacy is] all about the spectacular keynote speech he gave to the Democratic Convention in 2004. It's all about
the fact that he'space Joe Biden—a young, attractive,
eloquent and intelligent Kenyan
Columnist Joe Klein. Time Magazine.

From the gathering of definitions of the word pace presented above, perhaps the most apt one comes from the OED, which describes pace as "an ironic apology for a difference of opinion about to be expressed." Kline seems to thank Biden his inept use of "attractive, eloquent and intelligent" because the brouhaha that followed it has cleared the verbal air in two large speech communities--White America's and Black America's--making talk within and between the communities cleansed of lingering resentments attached to certain words, chief among them "articulate." All of this has allowed Kline to use them in his essay without fear of reprisal. Kline's language is accurate and forthright. Biden's language was accurate but patronizing.

If you'd like to read a succinct summary of the events, read the following narrative by David Gregory, Chief White House correspondent for NBC News.

Sen. Joseph Biden has launched his bid for the White House on the issue of Iraq, but Wednesday his campaign was sidetracked over race. [Sen. Biden pictured at right]

Like everybody these days Biden declared online, but it was old media that got him in trouble: Personal comments he made about another White House hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, recorded by a reporter for the New York Observer.

"I mean, you've got the first sort of mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a story-book, man," Biden said.

Biden later called Obama and then spoke to reporters during a conference call saying Obama understood what he meant.

"This is a guy who's come along in a way that's captured the imagination of the country in a way that no one else has. That was the point of everything I was saying," Biden said.

But late Wednesday, Obama released a statement seizing on Biden's use of the word "articulate."
[Sen. Obama pictured at right.]

"I didn't take Sen. Biden's comments personally, but obviously they were historically inaccurate," Obama said. "African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate."

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said Wednesday night, "It was a gaffe. It was not an intentional racially pejorative statement. It could be interpreted that way, but that's not what he meant."

Biden, who admits he has a tendency to bloviate, has made indelicate remarks before. Last year, speaking about Indian-Americans, he said, "You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. It's a point. I'm not joking!"

Fearing the political damage of his comments Wednesday night, Biden released a statement saying, "I deeply regret any offense my remark in the New York Observer might have caused anyone. That was not my intent and I expressed that to Sen. Obama."MSNBCJan 31, 2007 (
Eugene Kane of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Yes, Obama is articulate, perhaps one of the most articulate public officials on the scene. But as Biden learned, calling him articulate elicits groans of recognition from a nation of well- spoken black folks (like me) who think they know what's really being said:

Articulate for a black guy.

The suspicion is that the bar for "articulate" speech for black politicians has been set so low, anybody who doesn't say "ax" when he means "ask" could pass muster with some whites.