I was reminded of the power of words today when I found a well-constructed post by my blogger friend , the East Coast Dan , over at No Facilities . He reads my posts and always makes the time to reply with consistently perspicacious comments .beard-old-man-1902

He’s a technology professional who knows how to get right to the heart of the matter when the English language is involved . He referred to my use of the word  “sycophant” in one of my posts , which was an insult aimed by a friend of mine at anyone who doesn’t hate Hillary . I include myself in that collection of non -haters , so I was being besmeared and besmirched on Facebook by my old buddy . I said in my post about this that I didn’t take it personally , but that I would work on it . No one wants to be considered a sycophant , after all , as far as I know . Anyway , the other Dan looked up the word “sycophant” on Google , as any tech pro would , I suppose.

It turns out that when a definition of an unfamiliar word is found , the definition provided tends to include another unfamiliar word , so the poor wordsearcher continues floating around in the thick mist of dubiety . Dan looked up  “sycophant” and found a definition that included “obsequiously” . Then , of course , he pursued that , tapped down into the next level of definition , for that additional unfamiliar word , and found a definition with  the word  “servile”.masks-wierd

I know that feeling . The word is somehow familiar , but it’s so rarely used that the definition is impalpable . Such is life . I always feel , in those situations , that I really should know the meaning of the word . It’s a nagging feeling  that I have known the meaning of the word at some point and have just forgotten it ; it’s on the tip of the tongue , but it doesn’t quite come to mind .

I have a sister who would know each and every word . I don’t . There’s an ancient Chinese saying that tells of the father who is happy that his son didn’t do well in his studies , so now the boy can look forward to a lucrative career in the government . Something like that . I wouldn’t quote it , true as it still might be , to the current Chinese government . They might not appreciate it . Anyhow , I don’t work for the government , but the concept seems to fit my situation . At any rate , I learned long ago in childhood the lesson that the other Dan learned recently — it’s no good looking up definitions . They will just dumbfound you more . Unless you’re my sister , of course .women-cars-1920s-18

No , I’m not a sycophant , and I’ll gainsay that intimation whether in person or on the net when I encounter it . I’m no lickspittle . Let me make that clear .


Filed under humor

4 responses to “lickspittle

  1. I used “lickspittle” as a verb in Penina’s Letters: “My buddy Bubo Eyren and I lick-spittled through our last details, short-timers anxious to avoid pissing off Buck Sergeant Howler and Corporal Picul processing a backlog of discharge papers.” Good word! But I missed yr being besmirched on FB. Must look that up.

  2. I’d love to hear you and Dan Antion in a conversation some day. If I could keep up with it – I KNOW I’d be on the floor hysterical!! I can definitely see why you two get along!

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