Thursday, 17 April 2014

Chaw - Chewing Dumb

A vulgarly chawing giraffe
(photo by Christian Scheja)


Verb. Now colloquial & dialectical. Late Middle English.
[Variant of CHEW verb: compare with CHOW verb.]

1 verb trans & intrans. Chew, now especially without intending to swallow and in a vulgar manner. LME

1(b) verb trans. Bite (a bullet) to make it jagged. Chiefly as chawed participial adjective. M17-M19

2 verb trans. figurative. Brood over, ruminate on. M16

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's vulgar chewing; I've italicised the word vulgar from the OED's definition because it's so fitting. To this day, I've remembered the moment from years ago that I met two people that chawed on gum constantly throughout our introduction, with open mouths and vapid eyes, and I don't think I've ever forgiven them for their vulgar mastications.

Chaw - is it not the most perfect word for something so stomach-churningly vulgar?

Do please leave your most masticatory comments in the box below.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Chauvinist - A Gender-Unspecified Pig

A chauvinistic Kelleg's ad suggesting that women thrive the more they cook, clean, wash, etc.
Vintage ads - so delightfully chauvinistic


Noun & adjective. In sense A1 also capitalised as Chauvinist. Late 19th century.
[from Nicolas Chauvin, a Napoleonic veteran popularized as a character in La cocarde tricolore by the brothers Cogniard.]

A1 noun. A bellicose patriot; a fervent supporter of a cause. L19

A2 noun. A person who is prejudiced against or inconsiderate of those of a different sex, class, nationality, culture, etc.;
especially = male chauvinist adj. & noun. M20

B adj. Of or pertaining to chauvinism or chauvinists; chauvinistic. L19

chauvinistic adj. L19
chauvinistically adv. L20

So, the definition is clear - not all chauvinists are men, despite it being an epithet that's "especially" applied to male chauvinists, often in the term male chauvinist pig (or MCP for short), a standard retort when a man tells a sexist joke, makes a derogatory remark about women, or otherwise acts like a contemptible ass. However, chauvinism encompasses so much more unpleasantness, such as national, class, cultural and age-based chauvinism; even the idea that it's only (or generally) men that are chauvinists is very chauvinist.

An USA flag with a cross through it
Feeling superior to Americans is bizarrely acceptable
Oddly, there's a certain level of acceptable chauvinism, in that one can feel superior to stupid fat Americans, for example, and express it through jokes and attitude without serious challenge, but should one communicate such chauvinistic prejudice against, say, a Nigerian or Romanian, it will immediately elicit cries of racism and bigotry (both attitudes are racist, bigoted and chauvinistic, just for the record).

A French cockade in the tricolour
Chauvinism originated in France which is ... umm ... interesting
The word chauvinism comes from the apocryphal Nicolas Chauvin, a French soldier and fervent supporter of Napoleon in the 1800s. Due to his unwavering loyalty to Napoleon and his dogged belief in Bonapartism, Chauvin became an object of ridicule in France when Bonapartism fell out of favour, and he became an unfortunate eponym for that type of excessive nationalistic fervour, which is fitting because chauvinism, be it male, female, national or any type of chauvinism, is really rather stupid and most definitely worthy of ridicule.

A cartoon of women saying: "Yes, we can do without men ... but we can't do much!"
As it's the women saying it, is this cartoon chauvinistic?
Are you a chauvinist?

Are all chauvinists men?

Do please leave your most superior, prejudiced and bigoted comments in the box below.
(note: superior, prejudicial and bigoted comments will be deleted)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Chatoyant - Irisdescent Undulating Lustre


Foreign. Noun & adjective. Now rare. Late 18th century.
[French, present participle of chatoyer.]

(Of) iridescent undulating lustre.

I rather like the look of this word, but its heavily Anglicised pronunciation of shat-oi-yunt utterly obliterates it. Personally, when I casually drop chatoyant in conversation (as one regularly has call to do), I use the ever so much classier French pronunciation of shat-wa-yanh.

Listen to the two pronunciations by clicking here and tell me what you think.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Chartaceous - Of the Nature of Paper

An old sheet of yellowing paper
A captivatingly chartaceous texture by Evelyn Flint


Adjective. Mid-17th century.
[from late Latin chartaceus, from Latin charta.]

Of the nature of paper; papery.

I rather like the word chartaceous, which makes me think of heavy, old, yellowing paper, the kind that you discover in dusty tomes hidden in your grandparents' attic.

Do please put pen to paper (figuratively speaking) and leave a comment in the box below.