Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Today's Word: Exiguous

Exiguous comes from the Latin verb 'exigere' meaning equally to demand or to drive out or to measure.

The measurement aspect of this word borrowed from the more forceful tone of the other meanings and thus took on a petty tone, inferring a cheapness or a hawkish level of precision in rationing!

Today, it means scanty or inadequate.

Sadly the last two days have shown what a tremendous impact exiguous forethought, not to mention funding or upkeep, can have on our lives!

The people who have been affected by the levee failure in New Orleans will forever appreciate the significance of adequate public works, and the importance of tending to one's own garden!

Nature is beyond our control, but our state of readiness is not! We should carefully examine the priorities of the people who take on the mantle of keeping us prepared. And that's all I have to say about this!


Monday, August 29, 2005

Today's Word: Esquivalience

Today's word is not a word! I know, I know - I've often had to fight and argue that my words here are all real. None of them made up or invented! This, my faithful readers, is the solitary exception!

It's fake!

But it's important because it's a part of history - it's a secret!

I learned about this via a New Yorker Article.

As you will see if you read the article, 'esquivalience' is a linguistic trap!

Publishers of research-intensive tomes realized that providing definitions and encyclopedic reference materials presented a unique challenge in terms of copyright-protection. What could stop a copycat publisher from simply riding in the wake of their hard-work by simply copying their text?

Thus was borne a secret tradition. Encyclopedias, dictionaries and other reference guides were seeded with 'fake' listings which could be used as red flags in case a publisher suspected a competitor of plagiarism. The practice dates back as far as the late 1800's!

'Esquivalience' first appeared in the 2001 copy of the New Oxford American Dictionary and was only exposed earlier this year in a second printing of the 2005 edition.

The New Oxford American Dictionary's definition of 'Esquivalience' is a "willful avoidance of one's official responsibilities."

Very appropriate since the fake-definition is quite in-line with what publishers have been trying to prevent for over 100 years!


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Today's Word: Meme

Now, a lot of my words are rooted in history - they have stories that span generations and roots that draw from our earliest ancestors.

Not 'meme'!

Meme was invented! It's barely old enough to drink!

In 1976, British scientist Richard Dawkins wrote a controversial book about his theories of social development entitled 'The Selfish Gene' which discussed the similarities between physical and cultural evolution. But don't confuse Mr. Dawkins' theories with the political theories of Ayn Rand! No! In fact, his work explores the seemingly unexplainable altruism that plays a delicate part in the balancing of the theory of evolution a stark contrast with Ms. Rand's Objectivist ideas.

A meme, per Mr. Dawkins, is a cultural virus of sorts. An often used example is the 'smiley' face that is recognized as a visual meme across the internet.

: )

A meme (which rhymes with gene) can be word, a phrase, a behavior, an article of clothing...anything that is spread via social means.

Memetics is the study of the spread of these cultural flags and follows Darwin's theories on evolution and natural selection.

Dawkins didn't just make up a funny sounding word! No, he's a scientist! (Yes, he's still alive! That's how new this word is!)
'Meme" is derived from two sources: The Greek root, 'mim-' meaning to mime or copy, and the English suffix '-eme' which denotes a unit of measure. Technically, the word should be 'mimeme', and Dawkins acknowledges this in his book, but he liked the shorter word better, particularly because of the similar sound to 'gene'.

Dawkins was a close friend of the late Douglas Adams (author of the famous Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series) and is an ardent atheist!

He likes monkeys!


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Today's Word: Thug

Today's word comes courtesy of fellow word-enthusiast Nick, who has a very engaging blog called Ganesh and Gandhi regarding all things Indian! He's an American who is teaching the internet Hindi - one letter of the alphabet at a time!

Thug. Is it slang? Well, it's used in a derisive enough manner that it sure seems like it might be!

We all know that a thug is a brutish malcontent whose solution to any dilemma is quick and unyielding violence. But where did the term come from? Appropriately, the same place we got the word 'mugger': India!

(Mugger is derived from the Hindi 'muggar' - which in turn comes from the Sanskrit 'makarah' - referring to a type of crocodile (Crocodilus palustris) that is found primarily in Southwest Asia. Reptiles tend to get the short end of the reputation stick, and as such - these crocodiles have become the namesake of the cold-blooded human profiteers who lurk in the underbelly of our society.)

'Thug' is a shortening of the name 'Thuggee'. The Thuggees were an Indian cult (more on this term later) that was active in India for over six hundred years! Think about that! The United States has barely been around for two hundred years!

The Thuggees were devoted to the Hindu Goddess Kali. Membership in the cult was hereditary, meaning that it was passed from generation to generation from father to son, often in secret.

Kali is the Tantric Goddess of Destruction! But take care! 'Destruction' has taken on a significantly negative tone in our cut-and-dry Western view of the world! The truth is, all things must end...Death is an essential part of our life-cycle...rotting wood provides mulch to nurture new growth! Destruction, like Winter, is simply a phase of life - and as such, Kali's followers were not all murderous people! In fact, the Thuggees were acting out of a sense of moral obligation! The belief was that for each Thuggee murder, they were postponing the return of Kali (and thus the destruction of the world) by a thousand years!

The Thuggees were not aimless villains! Their murders were highly ritualistic and they were extremely well organized. They were a recognized group of assassins, and even though they worked in secrecy - they paid taxes!

They traveled in large gangs, and were most famous for their method of killing - strangulation. It is estimated that the Thuggees were responsible for over two million murders, and their last leader, Behrem, was alleged to have personally murdered 931 people between the years 1790 and 1830!

After six hundred years, a British soldier named William Sleehan formed the precursor to India's current intelligence Agency. Through extensive profiling and research, the agency was able to eradicate the cult from modern Indian society!

A part of me finds it somewhat of a shame that the complex and rich history of the Thuggee cult has been distilled down to a term that is applied to random and recklessly violent people.

(I use the term 'cult' in the same way I use 'myth' - without judgment or connotation. The cults and mythology of ancient times were the sects and beliefs of our ancestors. I don't believe that I have the authority to say whether any one system is more right or more wrong than any other - particularly when examined out of the context of the system's era. If I lived into the next millennium, I would use the term 'cult' to refer to any branch of any major contemporary religion. "Cult" has become synonymous with "crazy" to many people, and that's dangerous and sad.)


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Today's Word: Punch

Today's word will liven the spirits!

It's ripe with debate and I'll leave it to my readers to make up their minds as to where the truth lies!

'Punch' can mean two very different things that, in excess, can produce the exact same result!

A punch can be either a physical act of aggression, or an alcoholic concoction. If you are on the receiving end of either, disorientation is likely!

Let's take the first meaning - the act of striking a person with a fist. Coming from the Middle English 'puncheon', which in turn comes from the Old French 'poincon' which means to pierce with a tool (and in fact can refer to the tool itself, as can the ancestor in question).

It's a pretty direct lineage: A tool used to emboss or pierce - the action of that tool - the action in general of striking something with force.

So, let's turn to the next meaning; the alcoholic brew.

Here, my friends is where the history gets rich.

At one time, and more recently than we often care to admit, the world was not such a connected place! International trade was the domain of the adventurer - and often, the pirate! Simple spices - salt and pepper - were so rare in some parts of the world that wars were fought and lives were lost for them. The trade route between England and India was ripe with danger - and was a mixing of cultures that still shapes much of our world today!

Rum-soaked sailors brought back tales of an exotic Indian drink named 'panch'!

The Hindi word for the number five is 'panc'. It comes from Sanskritt 'panca'. It was also used to describe this now-famous drink because the drink was made from five essential elements: Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Weak and Strong.

Limes and lemons provided the Sour - and often the Bitter by way of the rind. Sometimes the Bitter came from black tea.

The Weak and Strong were different types of alcohol, often a beer or ale served as the Weak half. In India, 'Arrack' is a common moonshine distilled from a mash of rice, molasses, and palm fruits - it is a cousin of modern rum - and was the Strong of choice.

So from five ingredients, comes a beverage that can knock you out!

In fact, one can imagine a scene where one sailor drunkenly orders a round of punch for his mates aninadvertentlyly slights a nearby pirate who offers our unfortunate sailor a 'punch' with five very different ingredients - meaning a fist!

For as long as there have been bars and patrons, there have been bar fights!

Scholars have long debated the direction of the flow of meaning. Sanskrit is an old language, far older than England. And yet, there is plenty of evidence that the beverage was popular in England as early as the 15th century. Of course, there is also quite a long history of the British appropriating things from other cultures and claiming them as their own!

Regardless of which punch you favor, remember that moderation is important in all aspects of life!


(A special thanks to all of my readers who have inquired about my extended - and unintended - absence. I'm feeling much better! Some wounds never fully heal, and I'm afraid that from time to time, I need to focus on my health. Thanks for your enthusiasm and concerns!)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Today's Word: Numinous

Numinous is a neat word!

It comes from the Latin word 'numen' meaning "nod of the head". The Latin term indicated a physical gesture, meant as an order! The idea that the term evoked command and authority eventually led to its use to refer to things of a higher order - specifically deities.

In Ancient Rome, a 'numen' was a god that presided over an object or place!

The meaning stuck, and today, something that is numinous is something that inspires awe and spiritual reverence. It can be that breathless moment when the sun dips below the horizon, the carefree giggle of a child, or the deep understanding that we, as individuals, are but fleeting specks on the fabric of existence!

Even though the religions that spoke of numens are long faded in our memories, the word holds power still. In fact, it may hold more power now because it is applicable in any moment of divine pause, regardless of faith or creed!


Friday, August 12, 2005

Gone until Tuesday

My friends, I will be forced to be away from my computer for a few days, and as such, won't be able to update my daily word list.

But in the meantime, please find this EXCELLENT article on the vast and surprising history of the words we use to describe color! This article comes from the site that Nick posted in the comments section a few days back.

World Wide Words has been a very exciting find for me, so I hope you all enjoy it too!


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Today's Word: Puissance

Today's word is brief, but powerful! Literally!

Puissance means power! It means influence and the ability to coerce!

It comes from the Old French word for "to be able".

Puissance is also a spectacular showdown at otherwise staid and conservative horse shows. It is a head to head competition of ability that measures pure, raw power; the high-jump.

(The world record in Puissance was set in 1949 by a horse named Huaso, ridden by Captain Alberto Larraguibel Morales during a horse show in Santiago, Chile. Huaso jumped a full 8'1" - which would have given him a full foot of clearance over the world's tallest horse, Firpon - who was exactly 7'1" tall.

Incidentally, the smallest horse ever recorded was Little Pumpkin who stood a full 14" tall and weighed only 20lbs.)


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Today's Word: Syzygy

You might be tempted to cry foul play here! Fear not, 'syzygy' is a real word!

Syzygy is the shortest word in the English language to use three Y's!

It comes from Greek, where the meaning is "bound together", specifically referring to the yoked harnesses of team-animals.

It is used in a surprising number of fields! Most notably, 'syzygy' is used in astronomy to mean a convergence of planetary bodies. An eclipse is the classic example of syzygy, but any alignment of three celestial bodies along a single line of sight is applicable. It came into use in the 17th century, and at first only applied to the combination of planets that applied to the position that resulted in a new moon - but in time came to be used for any alignment of three planets, regardless of the perspective of the viewer.

Carl Jung - famous for his philosophical exploration of the Ego - appropriated the term to describe a pairing of contrasting sexual archetypes. Interestingly, to Jung a hermaphrodite was as accurate an example of syzygy as a traditional male/female relationship. Of course, the Jungian concept of sexuality and gender went further than biology and was meant to describe opposite but interlocking pairs in all respects, physical, theoretical or otherwise - This notion of inseparable duality was perhaps a nod to his early education in Eastern religious practices. Along with fluency in the Major European languages, Jung accomplished in Sanskrit by his early teens!

Perhaps due to its odd pairing of letters, perhaps because of its frequent use among scientists, 'Syzygy' is often a popular word thrown about in the Science Fiction world. In fact, before it was ever a forefather of the video-game industry - the company we now know as Atari was called Syzygy!

Poets who look for new and clever ways to use their words have adopted the term 'phonetic syzygy' to mean the repetition of a consonant throughout a verse (differing from alliteration in that the repetition is not restricted to the beginning of a word.)!

Syzygy is all around us!

(Syzygy should not by confused with Zzyzx, a small plot of land in Southern California that was the site of religiously-oriented health spa. Founded in 1944 by Curtis Howe Springer, Zzyzx Springs was purportedly a center for wellness. Springer invited followers to follow a strict diet of vegetable juice and an assortment of exercise regimens (including a mechanical exercise-horse that had once belonged to Calvin Coolidge.). These types of 'wellness resorts' were popular at the time - the book 'The Road to Wellville' is a fictional account of the very real spa that was run by the inventor of Kellogg's cornflakes.

Springer hosted a fundamentalist Christian radio show that was broadcast on over 200 stations where he presented himself as both physician and preacher. His daily shows aired for 30 years until 1974 when Springer was arrested for unauthorized use of Federal Land and violations of Food and Drug laws - he was neither a licensed physician nor ordained by any church; in essence, he was a fraud who preyed on the hopeful and drained their savings by appealing to their desire for guidance.

Zzyzx has been used as a research station for over 20 Universities.)


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Today's Word: Deasil

It's not a type of petroleum fuel! No!

Deasil is an ancient and fundamental word! Until advances in engineering allowed for easy manufacture of machined gears, deasil was a household word!

It means, of course, the opposite of widdershins!

Before clocks were invented, our clever ancestors measured time by following the shadow thrown by the Sun. As the day progresses, a sundial's shadow travels from left to right.

(This all falls apart if you venture into the Southern Hemisphere, but that's another story,)

Pay attention!

It's an odd thing, describing direction! Try to describe 'left' or 'right' to someone over the phone, but without using the words 'left' or 'right'! It's impossible unless you use landmarks - and the biggest landmark is the Sun! The problem with describing direction is perspective! Depending on where you are, what is 'right' to me may be 'left' to you, or 'forward' or 'back'.

Navigators and orienteers use another landmark to guide themselves; they use the Earth itself. Unlike the Sun, which falls out of view every evening, the magnetic field of the Earth is consistent enough to provide anyone with a magnet the ability to record direction. My grandfather always gave directions using compass points, and sometimes he'd test you! "Which way is North!?!?"

But the Sun and its shadow gave direction to time itself! When clockmakers created the first mechanical clocks, they crafted them in such a manner as to mimic the motion of the familiar sundial. Deasil - which means 'clockwise', or 'to the right' - comes from the Gaelic word 'deisiel' ('with the sun'), which in turn is drawn from the Latin 'dexter' ('skillful or right-handed').

(Not all clocks tell time with rightward motions! No! Some European synagogue clocktowers still have rare mechanisms that sweep in the opposite direction - this is because Hebrew is read from right to left!)

Widdershins - of course - means counter-clockwise (anticlockwise for our British friends), and comes from the Middle Low German word 'weddersinnes' which means quite literally, 'opposite course' or 'against the sun'.

Today, the word 'deasil' has all but fallen into obscurity! It has been replaced with "clockwise".

However, it does retain meaning in the world of witchcraft!

Paganism was extremely popular before the spread of Christianity. Like many religious systems, Pagans found it convenient to break the world into good and evil and - as is often the case - darkness was infused with evil meaning, where light was interpreted as good. (It's not just Wiccans who do this! Zen Buddhists have the Yin and Yang, symbolized by interlocking black and white swirls, to represent the dual forces that flow through all things - interestingly, many belief systems go further and apply gender connotations to these distinctions as well!). Even in today's modern version of Paganism, Wicca, Deasil movements are meant to invoke positive qualities in a ritual.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Today's Word: Chivy

Today's word is one of strategy and cunning!

It's not a small onion!

To chivy something is to slyly maneuver it through persistent, petty attacks. It is a subtle art used to gain by indirect means rather than by overt aggression!

Chivying comes to us from Scotland, where the word means 'to doggedly pursue'. It comes from a phrase that is drawn from the title of a ballad.

In medieval times a 'chase' was a plot of land that was used as a hunting ground.

In the mid 1400's a ballad was penned that became one of the most famed and admired ballads among the Scottish at the time. It tells the history of the Battle of Otterburn. The English Earl of Northumberland lead a hunting party into an area on the English-Scottish border - on the Scottish side known as 'Chevy Chase'. Chevy Chase was a Scottish game preserve and the Scottish Earl Douglas of Otterburn had forbidden the hunt. The illicit hunting party sparked a battle that would end with barely more than one hundred survivors, and thousands of casualties. The Scottish were victorious.

The ballad survived well into the 1600's and from it the term 'chevy chase' was borne; indicating a specific style of hunt where the game is ferreted out by a deft series of maneuvers.

'Chivy' is the resulting linguistic descendant.

An affluent area of Maryland is named for that same Scottish battlefield, and it is supposed that actor Chevy Chase (born "Cornelius Crane Chase") was given the nickname 'Chevy' by his grandmother in reference to this prominent suburb.

The act of chivying is still around today! You'll notice it in subtle political maneuvers. Those slight digs, those underhanded yet persistent rumors - they add up! It is a tactic of subtlety that undermines an opponent's validity by attaching petty yet effective taints to their reputation. It is a slow and steady piling-on of straws that are effective cumulatively, and yet seem absurd to protest. There is no doubt that chivying tactics are effective, but the integrity of those who use them should be carefully examined!


Friday, August 05, 2005

Today's Word: Pale

Here's another great example of a word that means something very different than what you know it to mean!

Actually, this is a fascinating example of a word that is two words!

From two different roots, come two different words, spelled and spoken exactly the same way. Are they the same word? I don't know!

The Latin word pallidus gives us our popular word that means a wan and sunless complexion. The meaning can be literal, referring to color saturation, and it can be metaphorical, alluding to a fading conviction or intensity!

However, from the Old French word, pal, comes the word 'pale' - which initially meant a sharpened stake.

These stakes weren't meant to be used in battle, but were placed as passive markers. They created visual boundaries that helped land owners mark off property. Soon, they were placed more densely together and what was once a sparse row of pales became a picket-fence which in turn retained the name.

So, a pale is a fence or a fenced in area!

But with that distinction came an idea that some things were within the pale - within one's own boundaries - and some things were beyond those borders. If you think about it, it's a very dangerous idea that sows the seeds of nationalism! It's a false concept of ownership and of entitlement! The notion that people can be included or excluded by mere geography is absurd in a modern context! Be careful of wanton nationalism! It leads to jingoism - belligerent patriotism - and that's a sad way for any nation to try to bolster its ego!

From the literal meaning came the obvious metaphorical analogy, and the only remnant of that French sharpened stick is a figure of speech that means anything outside of one's comfort zone.

Interestingly, many people think that the expression "beyond the pale" comes from the remote country-side of Ireland, where fog creates natural boundaries! Logically, anyone who explored too far into the fog (that pallid ghostly mist that lends romance to the bogs and marshlands) could get lost and was thus foolishly venturing beyond a safe distance!


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Today's Word: Furuncle

A furuncle is a nasty thing!

It's a boil! An abscess!

A furuncle leeches resources from a main system, be it plant, animal, or political! It begins life as a healthy growth and at some stage, warps and mutates, sapping energy from its host.

In fact, the word furunculus in Latin means 'a petty thief'. It's a funny way of thinking about a bump on a tree, but that's just what that bump is doing! Instead of contributing to the greater-good, it sucks sap and nutrients into its core and can often warp and disfigure the tree!

There are plenty of people out there who are furuncles on society! There's something disturbing about a person who can thrive only by abusing a system. They claim to be playing fair, all the while searching for loopholes and technicalities that further their gain. Rather than helping towards growth and prosperity for everyone, they are only concerned with gathering as much money and power as possible. They're in it for themselves, and the tree that feeds them be-damned!

Often times, a furuncle will sort itself out through natural courses. A body may recognize that something is amiss, and divert resources away from the boil, allowing it to recede over time. However, if there is infection, then it may be necessary to lance or excise the entire thing! Yikes!

Whether painfully tangible and inanimate or metaphorically describing a person or entity, the furuncle is not a welcome growth!


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Today's Word: Larva

Today's word is interesting because it meaning today and its meaning to people in the past are completely distinct ideas - and we owe the modern meaning to one man.

A larva is the immature stage of life for many insects. It's a strange and mysterious phase that bears no physical resemblance to the mature stage of the insect's life. Larvae come in many variety, but are typically nothing more than odd sacs of DNA, writhing and wriggling in their enthusiasm for life! Kafka even wrote a play using the metamorphosis of a butterfly as his central analogy!

But the word larva used to be used to mean a disembodied soul! A larva was a ghost! In fact, in Latin, larva means "terrifying mask" ! A larva was a malevolent spirit!

So, how did this terrifying specter become an infant caterpillar?


Yes, that famed Swede - Carl Linnaeus - forever changed the word with the deft stroke of a pen in 1691!

Linnaeus, of course, is the man who is responsible for the creating a system of categorizing all living things in science! Not a small feat! He was a genius of a man, who saw that the world, though complex and vast, had structure. With this realization, he set out to document and catalog the entire thing!

He started with plants in the wilds of Lapland, and ultimately filled out his system to include animals large and small.

His methods of naming things was perhaps the only non-scientific thing about his system. He chose names that made sense to him in a fairly arbitrary and personal way (Humans are 'Homo sapiens', because 'sapien' means "with intelligence" - obviously highly debatable, both then and now. 'Mammals' are grouped together because they have 'mammary glands' - and Linnaeus was a staunch believer in the importance nursing children.). It was using this method that he decided that the pre-metamorphosis stage of life for insects was a kind of otherworldly state of existence. He used the term that the ancients had given to spirits and demons to represent this mercurial stage - 'larva'. And ever since, the larva has been a significantly less frightening thing.

Linnaeus was a busy man!

He is responsible for our association of gender with certain symbols (♂ - the Shield and Arrow of Mars for male, and ♀ - the Mirror of Venus for female). He also had time to co-create the temperature measure known as Celsius that is still used today throughout most of the world. And he even wrote lectures on sex called "How to get together"! Marvin Gaye would have been proud!

Linnaeus was a fascinating man! He was a failed entrepreneur too. His family got its name from their early exploits as lime-tree growers - and he never lost his interest in cultivating new crops. Sadly, his attempts to create teas and coffees from Swedish-native plants all failed miserably.

So, the mighty larva is no longer a haunting demon. No! It is a beginning. It is the first stage of a spirit's journey rather than the last, all due to one man.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Today's Word: Bibulous

Well my friends, today, I give you an interesting one!

'Bibulous' is a simple and descriptive term for the vast majority of our culture!

Some say that our bibulous behavior is what's wrong with America, while others argue that it's our right and our privilege! Some extremists would even consider it their duty to encourage bibulousness - they wear t-shirts praising it, and encourage their friends to join them!

Yes, there's a good chance that, unless you're Muslim, you're bibulous at least once a week!

But don't look down on Muslims for their traditions! Many Christians try their hardest to avoid being looked at as overly bibulous! They hide it from their friends!

If you're among those who tries to conceal your bibulousness, do yourself and your loved-ones a favor: get help!

Something that is bibulous is prone to absorbing vast quantities of liquid; primarily alcohol! Muslims don't drink alcohol! That's right, bibulous means to consume liquor!

What did you think I meant?

Bibulous is derived from the Latin biber, meaning 'to drink', where the word 'Bible' is derived from the Greek term for book, biblion.

See what happens when you miscommunicate? Two languages with very similar words that have two very different implications!

That's why it's so important to understand our language, particularly when translating or communicating with a foreign language speaker.

I wonder how many wars could have been averted through accurate communication? It's certain that not all wars are unavoidable! But perhaps the sentiment that builds up to conflict would be diffused if we only had clearer means of exchanging ideas. In the very least, it would be nice to know that we're fighting each other for a real and tangible reason, and not just out of simple and shameful ignorance.

Of course, bibulous behavior goes far past the odd glass of port on a chilly winter evening! Bibulousness describes the careening misadventure brought on by mild - but not severe - over indulgence.

I hope you're all enjoying your week!


Monday, August 01, 2005

Today's Word: Coruscate

Coruscate is brilliant!

It is a verb that describes polished gems and eloquent soliloquy equally. It should evoke faerie-dust and fireworks in its use.

Coruscate means to sparkle!

From the Latin for "quick movement", 'coruscate' is a word that binds the visual and tactile to the intangible.

A gemstone coruscates due to the way light refracts and reflects as it passes through the crystal structure. A poorly cut diamond won't coruscate at all!

A stone isn't just cut for shape and size, no! Each facet on a gem is set at just the right angle so that the maximum light is reflected. The goal of the expert stone-cutter is to create a network of angled planes that bounce incoming light in such a way that the only exit is the top of the stone! The flashes of light that you see from the inside of the stone are the result or proper placement! Every type of crystal is different, so a cut that works to magnificent effect on one type may produce a flat and lifeless stone on another! (Amazingly, even in this era of computer guided lasers and ultra-precise technology, the majority of precious stones on the market are still cut by hand, using a primitive method called 'jam-pegging'. Sure, there are fancy faceting machines with dials and gauges - but the Jam-Peg is the undisputed king of gem production! The key to its success? Simplicity! The main component in the Jam-Peg is a board with pre-drilled holes in it that have been pre-calibrated for perfection! The jam-peg operator cuts each stone to exacting specifications, relying mainly on the sound of each stone as it is cut to determine proper depth. Take that, technology!)

Coruscation is not a constant light or a source of illumination. You can't read by it, so don't try!

Rather, it is the peculiar and energizing glitter of a sudden surge of energy. With that in mind, 'coruscate' is often used to describe particular and inspired genius. It describes a perfectly honed expression that vitalizes a page or the uninhibited riff of a blues guitarist.

Coruscate is a great word!