sure to check out the issue (and subsequently this blog) before the Fourth of
July food coma and drunken stupor sets in. That doesn't give you much time so you'd better get started ...
Autodidactic: like a self-taught person, adj.
could have figured this out without wordreference.com if I would have just
thought about it a little bit — auto,
meaning self and dictact, meaning
teaching. It makes sense; it’s just that people use this word even less than
they learn things for themselves.
In the paper: “I just wanted to write because, autodidactic as I am, I had the sense to know that writers write,” in Kathy Y. Wilson’s “No. 104.” Can I make a joke about Kathy’s autodidactic deduction? Yes, writers write, but as opposed to what, exactly?
Cogent: appealing to the mind or reason, adj.
can’t think of a cogent reason why I like this word, but I do. FYI, it’s
In the paper: Looks like Kathy Y. Wilson pulled a double-vocab-hitter this week, “He [Danny Cross] said cogent things to me about my voice, my skill set and my value to this city” in “No. 104,” describing how our editor got her to start writing this column two years ago. I can’t really imagine Danny saying anything cogent (jokes, jokes) but whatever he said must have worked if she’s been back for 104 weeks of columns (much more impressive than my short tenure as copy editor/blogger).
Epocha: the beginning of a distinctive period in the history of anything, n.
turn to Epoch in your dictionary, because even the 1913 Webster’s Dictionary
said so. Epocha is the Latin version of epoch because John Adams just had to be
In the paper: Although it appeared in Isaac Thorn’s “The Fourth of July and Me” sidebar, the credit for this one goes to John Adams.
Je ne sais quoi: French phrase, meaning a quality that cannot be described or expressed, n.
borrowed from other languages that we are supposed to understand when used in
an English sentence are hard. I know what déjà
vu and pièce de résistance mean,
but come on, isn't this the Fourth of July issue?
the paper: Shout out to “Beygency Officer” Jac Kern aka Arts and Culture Editor
for mixing in some French with her English this week. Also for changing the
masthead to say “Beygency Officer,” I’m guessing because she had the privilege
of attending Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run show this past weekend. I
personally have never seen the ‘90s lifetime movie The Face on the Milk Carton so I can’t give you a hint as to what Jac meant when she wrote "[The new MTV series Finding Carter] could be watchable, but will surely lack that '90's lifetime movie je ne sais quoi," in her TV roundup. I did, however, try and read the eponymous book
when I was in fifth grade, but I was 11 years old and I distinctly remember
being uncomfortable with the teenage sexual tension between the main character
and her neighbor.
I give Jac *Pick of the Week* this week because the Beygency Officer thing was so funny and I haven’t thought about The Face on the Milk Carton since 2005 and she taught us all some French.
Pilsner: a tall slender footed glass for beer, n.
I read this in the paper, I thought "Wow I wonder what a pilsner is," and I was
extremely disappointed when Google Images just showed what I would describe as
a “beer glass but not a stein.” Maybe you all knew what a pilsner was (it is
also a type of beer) and I’m just showing my age (20) or lack of class.
In the paper: “These boys know how to have fun and get a laugh, whether it’s drinking wine out of a pilsner glass…” in Nick Grever’s “Kings of Power” about the comically named Martin Luther and the Kings band. Now that I now what a pilsner glass is, I can appreciate the quantities of wine they drink during rehearsal.
Bonus round: This is more grammar than vocab, but which is correct, upward or upwards? It’s always upward, regardless of what you may say in conversation. Upward as in “The car cost upward of $30,000,” according to my handy dandy 2012 Associated Press Stylebook.