rdsfox has looked up 168 words, created 4 lists, listed 93 words, written 13 comments, added 0 tags, and loved 0 words.

Comments by rdsfox

  • wild, melancholy, and elevating

    March 22, 2014

  • unmerited grace

    March 22, 2014

  • I think of history as a wonderbox, similar to the curiosity cabinets of the Renaissance — what the Germans called a Wunderkammer. Collectors used these cabinets to display an array of fascinating and unusual objects, each with a story to tell, such as a miniature Turkish abacus or a Japanese ivory carving. Passed down from one generation to another, they were repositories of family lore and learning, tastes and travels, a treasured inheritance. History, too, hands down to us intriguing stories and ideas from a cornucopia of cultures. It is our shared inheritance of curious, often fragmented artefacts that we can pick up at will and contemplate in wonder. There is much to learn about life by opening the wonderbox of history.

    February 15, 2014

  • A cause célèbre (/ˈkɔːz səˈlɛb/; French: koz selɛbʁ, famous case, plural causes célèbres) is an issue or incident arousing widespread controversy, outside campaigning and heated public debate.1 The term is particularly used in connection with celebrated legal cases.2

    February 6, 2014

  • panish

    duende dwen-day (adjective)

    This wonderful word captures an entire world of passion, energy, and artistic excellence and describes a climactic show of spirit in a performance or work of art. Duende originally meant "imp" or "goblin" and came to mean anything magical. It now has a depth and complexity of meaning that crosses artistic borders, from flamenco dancing to bullfighting. The Spanish poet Garcia Lorca wrote an eloquent essay on duende that explores the complex and inspirational flavor of its sense, and I know no better introduction.

    January 24, 2014

  • French

    esprit de I'escalier es-pree de less-ka/-iay (idiom)

    A witty remark that occurs to you too late, literally on the way down the stairs. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations defines esprit de l'escalier as, "An untranslatable phrase, the meaning of which is that one only thinks on one's way downstairs of the smart retort one might have made in the drawing room."

    January 24, 2014

  • Greek

    meraki may-rah-kee (adjective)

    This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put "something of yourself" into what you're doing, whatever it may be. Meraki is often used to describe cooking or preparing a meal, but it can also mean arranging a room, choosing decorations, or setting an elegant table.

    January 24, 2014

  • Czech

    litost lee-tosht (noun)

    This is an untranslatable emotion that only a Czech person would suffer from, defined by Milan Kundera as "a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one's own misery." Devices for coping with extreme stress, suffering, and change are often special and unique to cultures and born out of the meeting of despair with a keen sense of survival.

    January 24, 2014

  • The word SIBYL (in English, /ˈsɪbəl/) comes (via Latin) from the Greek word σίβυλλα sibylla, meaning prophetess. The earliest oracular seeresses known as the sibyls of antiquity, "who admittedly are known only through legend"1 prophesied at certain holy sites, under the divine influence of a deity, originally— at Delphi and Pessinos— one of the chthonic deities. Later in antiquity, sibyls wandered from place to place.

    August 25, 2013

  • In Portuguese, there are words like “saudade,” for the beautiful sadness that immobilizes us and sweetens the air. This American sensation wants a sharper word, something like “helpless” but more tannic, more acute.

    July 30, 2013

  • samidin —those who endure, to borrow Raja Shehadeh's evocative term in The Third Way, his memoir on Palestinians under occupation, 30 years ago.

    July 20, 2013

  • Toska - noun /ˈtō-skə/ - Russian word roughly translated as sadness, melancholia, lugubriousness.

    No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.

    Vladimir Nabokov, cited in A Field Guide to Melancholy by Jacky Bowring

    July 14, 2013

  • Mokomoko (もこもこ) is a haptic onomatopoeia – one of my favorites, in fact – that conjures up the soft, huggable qualities of billowing clouds or fluffy sheep. Don’t confuse it with mokumoku, which has similar connotations but refers specifically to movement, while the latter is grounded in the realm of motionless.

    July 11, 2013

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