Sir Paul McCartney once wrote a song that included the phrase female pulchritude and luminosity. The word pulchritude means “beauty,” but why such an ugly-sounding word for such a lovely thing? Pulchritude derives from pulcher, a Latin word meaning “beautiful,” “handsome,” or “fine,” and has been around in English since the 15th century. If you consider the word pulchritude unappealing, you might say it’s a heterological adjective — that is, one that does not describe itself. An autological word, in contrast, is one that does describe itself. For example, the adjective short is a short word, and polysyllabic has many syllables. This is part of a complete episode.
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- Cool Beans (episode #1570) 05/31/2021: If you speak a second or third language, you may remember the first time you dreamed in that new tongue. But does this milestone mean... [more]
- Love Bites (episode #1569) 05/17/2021: The word filibuster has a long and colorful history, going back to the days when pirates roamed the high seas. Today it refers to hijacking... [more]
- Lasagna Hog (episode #1568) 05/04/2021: Understanding the varieties of conversational styles can mean the difference between feeling you're understood and being insulted. "High-involvement" speakers interrupt or talk along with someone... [more]
- Kiss the Cow (episode #1567) 04/19/2021: An anadrome is a word that forms a whole new word when you spell it backwards. For example, the word "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts."... [more]