A Word for Wednesday

It's almost unbelievable how entertaining reading a dictionary can be.

No, really. I mean that. There's all the familiar vocabulary, of course. Then there's all the scientific vocabulary that no one can actually pronounce and use in normal conversation. (You know that rare species of bird from the Indian peninsula? Yea, that one). And, in the middle of all that, you get words like this:

Dingle-dangle - hanging loosely, or something dangling

Can you believe that's actually in the dictionary? It makes me laugh. Now, I may just be easily amused, but I really like stumbling across those kinds of random words in my vocabular ventures. It's fun.

That aside, here is today's word.

Dicacity n. [L. dicacitas] Pertness

Webster's definition is a little too straightforward for me this time. So I looked it up in The Imperial Dictionary of the English Language (volume 2, to be exact). It had the same exact definition, but it included the etymology of the word - which helped flesh this word out for me: [L. dicacitas, railery, from dicax, dicacis, talkative, witty, from dico, to say]. From what I can gather, and in spite of "0 results" from the online thesaurus, dicacity seems to be synonymous with speaking in a saucy manner or with satirical wit. In a word, being pert. And so we arrive as Webster's one-word definition ;)

Henry Lee used it in his writings on The Campaign of 1781 in the Carolinas, saying "...the proposition was rejected by Cruger, upon the ground, that this affecting ceremonial of right devolved on the victor, with his usual dicacity."

In a vastly different context, this word is used by a character in The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. He says, "Oh my lord, I seek only to introduce thee to these fellows of infinite mirth, the sons of men of worth, amongst whom there is neither procacity, nor dicacity, nor loquacity; for never, since I grew to years of discretion, could I endure to consort with one who asketh questions concerning what concerneth him not, nor have I ever frequented any save those who are, like myself, men of few words."

So there you have it - a word as easily used by a military general as by a ficticious Arabian. And now it's my turn.

"I was astonished by the captain's cabin. If not for the swaying, and the rope that bound my hands, I would have thought myself in England again instead of aboard a brigand ship. A perfect set of china cups was set out on the desk and books lined the shelves. The man I presumed to be the captain was pouring tea. The pot looked pure and delicate in his large, grime-sodden hands.

"So you finally chose to grace me with your presence, m'lady," he said, without looking up.

He then sat down, propped his feet up on the table, and considered me. "Will you have tea with an old man?"

"With an old man, yes," I said. "With a pirate the likes of you? No, thank you."

"Being difficult, are we?"

"Yes, indeed, we are."

He grinned.

"Will it be the noose, then, cap'n?" the first mate asked, his fingers digging into my arms.

"No." He picked up the tea pot and balanced it on the tips of his seven fingers. There was a chip on the spout. "She lives. There's a dicacity about her I like."

"There's a what about her?" the first mate said.

"Spirit," the captain said. "Throw her back in the brig."

The first mate spun me roughly around and towards the cabin door.

"Watch her, mate," I heard the captain say as we left, "or she'll lash you with that pert little tongue of hers."


  1. Ok, I've never ever heard that word before! And it cracks me up that dingle-dangle is in the dictionary!

  2. Did any dictionaries make your Christmas list this year?

  3. Julie - Me too! I didn't even know dingle-dangle was an actual word, lol.

    Andrew - No, no dictionaries. Although one of these days I'll have to get my own copy of Webster's 1828...

  4. Yes, that would definitely be worth owning. Lately my Amazon Kindle has become for me the most convenient word look-up; no fumbling through pages!

  5. I never thought of using my Kindle for looking words up. If I just want to clarify the meaning of the word I'm thinking of, I'll normally use dictionary.com because it's quick and easy. For finding new words though, nothing beats page-fumbling :)


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