SULLY: to stain or tarnish


The word sully is usually used in connection with the words “one’s reputation.”   It refers to the intentional act of defaming someone, of saying or doing something that stains their reputation and destroys their integrity in the public’s eyes.  It is a word that comes to us in English from the French  word souiller  which means […]

MACHIAVELLIAN [mak-ee-uh-VEL-ee-uh n] : characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty*

If there was ever a person in history who earned the title of infamous it has to be Niccolo Machiavelli, who lived at the turn of the 16th Century.  He was a politician in Italy who, believe it or not, is considered the founder of the study of political ethics.  Those of us who are […]

MEME: a reminder of a previous post

A number of weeks ago I published a blog posting featuring the word meme.  At the time I took a pretty academic approach to the word, not expecting it to crop up as dramatically as it has this morning. In numerous accounts of the presidential debate which was held last night in New York, the […]

ETIOLATE [EE-tee-uh-leyt] : to cause to become weakened or sickly; drain of color or vigor.

Yes, those are carrots in the photo to the right.   They are white carrots, which, I discovered, is the original color of carrots.  The article I read about them indicated that the Dutch wanted to create a vegetable that carried the color orange found in their flag, so they played with the genes of the […]

VEEP: a casual, abbreviated way of identifying the Vice President

Now that it’s official, Paul Ryan will be the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States, things begin to get a little clearer in the campaign.   There’s been an awful lot of “mush” over the past several weeks and months, but Ryan’s selection clarifies what the rest of the election campaign will be […]

BEMUSED DUDGEON: confused resentment

In a very well written NY Times op-ed piece on August 10, Ta-Nehisi Coates, editor of the Atlantic, uses the term bemused dudgeon. The piece is about former Governor Romney’s commentary on the role of culture in attaining success. Having never heard the term dudgeon before, it led me on an investigative journey.  I discovered […]