Thursday, December 31, 2009

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It . . .

How would you like to go on a sort of etymological treasure hunt with me? Hmm???

My sister Barbara, who is very much a logophile, uses a bookmarker with nothing on the back whenever she is reading. When she comes upon a word that is unfamiliar to her or one that she wants to learn the origin of, she will write it on the back of the bookmark. When she has learned it, she will cross it off.

A few days ago she asked if I could help her find the origins and meanings of two words, cypocraphy and palitant. It had been a while since she'd written them down and couldn't remember in what context they were used, but I know for sure that "palitant" had nothing to do with an avatar on an online game (which is what I found when I googled it.). I've barely scratched the surface of research, so I thought I'd throw them out there to see if anyone else had any ideas or would like to join in the hunt.

My OED has been no help. The most I could find there was the word "Pali", with a capital "P" (long "A" sound), meaning a language used in Buddhist canonical books and short for "line or canon".

I'm hoping someone out there has perhaps come across one of these words or has a reference source that I don't have that may prove useful.

So please join in if you can. It'll give you something to do in 2010.

And yes, these are the sorts of things that keep me awake at night!