Monday, August 29, 2005

Word of the day

The latest in our continuing series of gender-related posts...

Got this last week via email:

Thelyphthoric (adjective)

Pronunciation: [the-lêf-'tho-rik or thee-] Listen

Definition: (Obsolete) Corruptive of the morals of women.

Suggested Usage: There are obvious religious applications of today's word: "The parson warned the congregation of the thelyphthoric effects of Britney Spears' new video." But the layman will find uses for it, too: "Finding it less time-consuming than plying the young ladies with libation, Giuseppe soon learned that paying them gratuitous compliments was more efficient for swaying them to his thelyphthoric ends."

Etymology: Today's word was the creation of Martin Madan, who wrote in 1780 "Thelyphthora or, A treatise on female ruin: in its causes, effects, consequences, prevention, and remedy." Madan put this word together from Greek thelus "woman" + phthora "destruction, ruin." Both Greek words have resisted efforts of etymologists to dissipate their mystery.

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