Definitions

Okay. So yesterday I told you about the new book in my life. I also mentioned that some books send me to the dictionary every time I turn a page. Well, Meister Eckhart did that to me today. The ten pages I read should have taken maybe half an hour. But, between the words I had to look up and the ones that I had to look up to understand the definitions, it took me an hour and a half. Here are the words: paucity, hobgoblin, quidity, existential, quidnunc, chink, comely, explication, penultimate, paraphrasic, and tractate. Some of the words I thought I understood but had to look up because they didn’t quite fit when I saw it in the author’s sentence.

“Existential” is a word I always have to look up. I was probably introduced to it forty years ago when I first took a philosophy class. But I always have to check the definition again because I can’t quite get my brain around it. When I was in school I was really good at math until I hit calculus. I couldn’t get get my brain around that, either, which ended my math career. My nephew, Matt, has a doctorate in math. I think about his brain and wonder what lobes he has that I don’t.

I like “explication”. It is different than “explanation”. If you look up the latter in the dictionary, the first two definitions include the word they are defining which I thought was a mortal sin for dictionary writers. The third definition is “a declaration made with a view to mutual understanding.” “Explication” means the development of the meaning of an idea or principle. I think that one can explicate alone, but you can only explain if someone else is there to listen to your expication. I know people who are great explicaters but  lousy explainers.

I misunderstood the meaning of the word the word “comely”. I thought it meant “homely” but in fact it means the opposite: “pleasant to look at”.

A “hobgoblin” is a scary being cut down to size, “a mischievous imp.” When I happened to glance at the word just prior to it in the dictionary, I found that a “hobbledehoy” is “a clumsy or awkward youth”. Interesting.

“Penultimate” is defined as “the last but one”. I thought, “What the hell does that mean?” But then I thought of the phrase, “next to last” or “second from the end.” I should have written this dictionary.

“Experienceable” is just a neat way to talk about experience. “Our day together was very experiencable, don’t you think?”

A “tractate” is a treatise. Why the author didn’t  just say “treatise” is beyond me.

“Quidity” means “trivial objection”. I wonder if that is used in the courts. It should be used in politics. The verb would probably be “to quidit” which is what someone should do when they engage in too much quidity. The word following this in the dictionary is “quidnunc”, “a person given to gossip.” What a great word for a person who is given to name-calling.

A “chink” is a “flaw, unintended, that admits light.” I like the fact that chinks are unintended. It was new to me that it has to do with light. I have heard it used to mean a flaw that prevents something from going forward, like a clog in pipe, or something that screws up the production line like some guy stopping to text his girlfriend.

“Paraphrastic” has to do with paraphrasing. It is a word only a show-off would use, like “experienceable”.

“Paucity” means “smallness of number or quantity”. Really? All these years I could have been saying “I’ll have a paucity of jelly beans”, instead of, “I’ll have a few jelly beans.”

So if you ask me what I learned in my reading about Meister Eckhart this morning, I probably couldn’t tell you. You may wonder why I would consider reading this book, but I actually like looking up words in the dictionary. For me it is as good as  sorting stickers –  but that is another story.

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