September 2, 2005

A Lovely Word


We ran across this word on the way back home from visiting the Mess o' Greens family, thumbing through our car dictionary. Yes, we have a car dictionary. Don't laugh. It's a wonderful thing. You can't imagine how often we use it. But anyway, the word--

Procrustean [Procrustes, villain of Greek mythology who made victims fit his bed by stretching them or cutting off their legs] : marked by arbitrary often ruthless disregard of individual differences or special circumstances.

Why, you may ask, is this word with a gory background so lovely? Because it is absolutely perfect. It is distinctive-- it has history, weight, heft. It nails down a concept that no other single word can capture. And it's a lot of fun to use in a sentence. Try it: "The way she treats her friends is positively procrustean!" It is an insult, but a classy one -- the very best kind.

In this world where adjectives are often replaced by 'totally' and 'like, whatever', we need more people to use specific words that actually mean something; words that are at once concise and precise. Do your part to help save the English language and learn to use this word!

[Lest we be forced to call you procrustean! -- The Queen]


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Procrustean? What an...interesting word. Of course, Fa-so-la-la, you know what I really mean when I say interesting.

fa-so-la-la said...

Yes well...