By Gallagher & Schleicher
We get it—many of you are sick of politics and worn out by all the divisiveness. You need a safe space away from discussions about you know who and of everything that person is or isn’t doing wrong. You turn off the tv or scroll past all the related debates and hateful exchanges. You beg for a single day when we can simply live our lives and not fight political fights. Okay.
We thus entirely abandon politics in today’s column, instead offering the blessed distraction of a vocabulary review. No name and blame, no hashtags, no unflattering photos. Just 10 fun new words!
Bigot. CollinsDictionary.com defines this noun as describing, “a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, especially on religion, politics, or race.” It originates with a French insult. Synonyms include fanatic, racist, extremist, sectarian, maniac, and zealot. Terms identified as meaning something opposite include fair-minded, humanitarian, open-minded, and tolerant.
Bounty. The Collins English dictionary defines this as money offered for doing something, especially for finding or killing a particular person.
Dereliction. Merriam-Webster says this is intentional neglect or abandonment, often used to describe a failure to complete or address one’s duty.
Dunning-Kruger effect. This is the cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability to do it, similar to the bias of illusory superiority – both of which stem from a person’s poor grasp of their limitations.
Failure. PowerThesaurus.org defines a person who is a failure as someone who has “a record of failing; someone who loses consistently.” This is a word of Anglo-French origin initially referring to a fault or default. A synonym of the word is loser.
Kleptocracy. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines this noun as, “government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed.” The term has its roots in Greek words referring to theft and power.
Narcissism. The Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary defines this noun as a “state in which one interprets and regards everything in relation to oneself and not to other people or things.” The word is rooted in the Greek mythological character Narkissos (AKA “Narcissus”), who fell madly in love with his own reflection. The American Psychiatric Association identifies the related personality disorder as evidenced by “a pattern of need for admiration and lack of empathy for others.” The APA explains that a person with narcissistic personality disorder may have “a grandiose sense of self-importance, a sense of entitlement, take advantage of others or lack empathy.”
Ransack. From the Old Norse rann and saka – literally “house” and “seek,” the term has come to mean to completely search a place or container in a violent and careless way, according to the Cambridge English Dictionary.
Supercilious. Dictionary.com defines this adjective to mean “haughtily disdainful or contemptuous.” Freedictionary.com similarly defines it as “The quality of being arrogant: arrogance, haughtiness, hauteur, insolence, loftiness, lordliness, overbearingness, presumption, pride, pridefulness, proudness, superiority.” It is rooted in Latin words referring to the eyebrow, such as arching an eyebrow to show sternness or haughtiness.
Treason. Per Wikipedia, “In law, treason is criminal disloyalty, typically to the state. It is a crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one’s nation or sovereign.” The word has Anglo-French origins from a term referring to a handing over. Among Americans famously accused of such conduct were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed after being convicted of providing classified information to Russia (then known as the U.S.S.R.). The Cambridge Dictionary defines treason as, “showing no loyalty to your country, especially by helping its enemies or trying to defeat its government.”
We hope this respite from all things political has provided you with a chance to relax and escape the worries of the world, even if just for a few minutes. In the extremely unlikely event that you encounter people or situations to which one or more of the 10 words above apply, you can do so with the confidence of someone who knows their proper usage and linguistic roots.
Some of our readers may, upon reflection, find one or more of these words repulsive, while others surely will think these are the very traits and actions they would hope their kids will grow up to exhibit. In either case, the choice is yours. While one may argue such words are synonymous with humans at their worst, we can all agree that many of history’s most infamous are portrayed by them.
Until the next lesson, wear those face coverings and, as the French say, “portez-vous bien et assurez votre sécurité.”
David Gallagher is a transplanted Texan, living and working in London and tweeting at @TBoneGallagher. David Schleicher is an attorney who represents U.S. federal employees worldwide and Texas business/non-profit clients. You can find their earlier and future columns at www.ContranymTimes.com. To receive their free columns via email sign up here or email them: ContranymTimes@gmail.com. Visit/Like on Facebook via this link.