Archive for New-to-me Words

loxodrome, rhumb line

According to Wikipedia: In navigation, a rhumb line, rhumb, or loxodrome is an arc crossing all meridians of longitude at the same angle, that is, a path with constant bearing as measured relative to true or magnetic north. For pretty and interesting pictures showing examples, follow the link. I think I’ve seen rhumb lines on […]

Eshoo question

A metaphor I was amused by: “The $64,000 question is: How do we put socks on this octopus?” —Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, in a telephone town hall this evening. (A quick web search suggests that the socks/octopus thing is a relatively common phrase, but I hadn’t heard it before.)

somehow or rather

I recently came across the phrase somehow or rather. I initially assumed that it was a typo for somehow or other, but I got curious and did a web search and found that lots of people have used the phrase online. I assume that it’s an eggcorn, but if so, it seems to be a […]


I just came across the word medakdek (which is also spelled medakdeik and m'dakdeik), a Hebrew word (מדקדק) that means something like precise or exact or careful. I infer that in yeshivish (heavily jargonized English as used at US yeshivas and among their alumni) there is a connotation of fussiness, of being overly picky about […]


According to Wikipedia: BLUF (bottom line up front) […] is a paragraph where the conclusions and recommendations are placed at the beginning of the text, rather than the end, in order to facilitate rapid decision making. Which seems to me to be pretty much the same approach that a lot of people take by writing […]


According to Wikipedia, l’Hexagone (“the Hexagon”) is a casual synonym for the mainland part of Metropolitan France […], for its approximate shape, and the adjective hexagonal may be a casual synonym of French (usually understood as metropolitan only, except in topics related to the foreign affairs and national politics of France as a whole).


I recently read the following line in Orson Scott Card’s novel Prentice Alvin, talking about a magical thing shaped like a hexagon: …lay hexes down on a table and they'd fit snug together, as perfect as squares, only stronger, woven not with warp and weft, but with warp and weft and hax. I’m guessing that […]