Monday, March 15, 2010

Naked Came the Etymologist...

This week's Etymology Monday starts off with an absolutely wonderful word: gymnologize. This obsolete gem comes from the Greek {gamma}{upsilon}{mu}{nu}{goacu}-{fsigma} ("gymno"), meaning "naked" + {lambda}{goacu}{gamma}{omicron}{fsigma} ("logos"), meaning "speech." To gymnologize, then, is 'to dispute naked, like an Indian philosopher.’ I don't see why the Indian philosophers should have all the fun, though. Granted, the prevalence of dick jokes in everyday debate probably doesn't need any more catalyst, but surely some of the poncier liberal arts academies could be convinced to field a gymnology team as an underground adjunct to their forensics programs, couldn't they? (St. John's College, I'm looking at you.)

This gives rise to an entertaining exercise: Using the prefix gymno- and some elementary Latin and Greek, one can spawn a whole slate of interesting fields, of which it pleases me to provide a small taste:

-gymnobotany: A branch of plant science which of necessity focuses fairly strongly on identifying poison oak.
-gymnogogy: What happens when all your courses are taught online and your students never actually have to see you. Alternately, what got Mary Kay Letourneau put in jail all those times.
-gymnography: Drawing dirty pictures in your lecture notes.
-gymnochondria: The sickening feeling that you're actually naked all the time.

I am particularly championing one of these words, so much so that I'm making it the Word of the Week despite my having made it up: gymnosophy. From "gymno" + "sophia" ('wisdom'), it refers to all of those profound and bizarre thoughts that only seem to come to you, say, in the shower, or when you're ruminating lazily in bed with your partner as the hours slip on toward dawn. Things like "I wonder why you never seem to see a baby pigeon," or "Now that you think about it, are Gary Busey and Nick Nolte ever photographed together? Is there any proof that Nolte isn't the Jekyll to Busey's Hyde?" In the habit of English lexicographers replacing good sound Germanic compounds with frillier derivatives of the Classical languagues, I propose it as a slightly upscale alternative to "pillow talk."

If anyone's got any particularly insightful or ridiculous gymnosophy to share, please leave it in the comments. Also, if anyone's got proof that Nick Nolte and Gary Busey are separate people, please leave that in the comments too.


Posted by Silent Five @ 10:41 AM

Word of the Week

gymnosophy [jim-NAH-so-fee]

n. Philosophical, amusing, or nonsensical insights realized when naked, as in the shower or in bed. (recent coinage: att. S. Galasso, 2010)

Victoria and Albert enjoyed a spot of postprandial concupiscence culminating in a night of gymnosophy and coffee and crumpets at dawn.

The Silent Top Five: Bacon-Flavored Desserts

1) Bacon cheesecake.
2) Bacon gumballs.
3) Bacon ice cream.
4) Bacon-orange bars.
5) Bacon apple pie.

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