"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Friday, 22 November 2013


   Welcome to the Oxford English Dictionary's word of the year for 2013 - selfie.  A selfie is a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. ...

The Urban Dictionary has this super definition - A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website. You can usually see the person's arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them so they resort to Myspace to find internet friends and post pictures of themselves, taken by themselves. A selfie is usually accompanied by a kissy face or the individual looking in a direction that is not towards the camera.

(My spillchucker didn't recognise selfie but since I am so unlikely to use it I don't think I'll bother adding it...)

Sunday, 10 November 2013


   In linguistics, an epizeuxis is the repetition of words in immediate succession, for vehemence or emphasis.  Damn, damn, damn - that's another word I need in my vocabulary and will probably forget.

Friday, 1 November 2013

All about doing good…

  Benevolence refers to the character trait or moral virtue of being disposed to act for the benefit of others.  
Beneficence  is the act of doing good, being kind or charitable; it includes all actions intended to benefit others. In bioethics the two words are entirely different and the principle of beneficence refers to a moral obligation to act for the benefit of others - most acts of beneficence are therefore in some way obligatory.  Beneficence may be considered to include four components: (1) one ought not to inflict evil or harm (sometimes called the principle of nonmaleficence); (2) one ought to prevent evil or harm; (3) one ought to remove evil or harm; and (4) one ought to do or promote good.

Kindheartedness is sympathy arising from a kind heart; having a kind disposition.

Generosity is the quality of being kind and generous; the quality or fact of being plentiful or large.

Munificence is liberality in bestowing gifts; extremely liberal and generous of spirit.

Altruism is unselfish concern.

Magnanimity means munificence; liberality in bestowing gifts; extremely liberal and generous of spirit.  (This is where we start going round in circles and discover a number of the words are entirely synonymous.) But magnanimity can also mean courageously noble in spirit and heart; generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness.

The above words are all still currently in use.  Sadly a word that means benevolent in speech – benedicence – has fallen out of use.  Perhaps nowadays we are more inclined to do good than to speak kindly.