Sunday, November 18, 2012

A timely post

You won't be surprised to hear I have other word fixations apart from the ones I wrote about the other day - the SH sounds and OUGH words. I also have a thing about words relating to time -   the time of day and to periods of time. 

I think this fixation started with vespertine, meaning of or relating to evening or dusk, often applied to creatures active at sundown. It's one of my favourite words, just because I like the way it sounds. I once followed someone on Twitter solely because her Twitter handle was Vespertine.

Then I started to notice other unusual words relating to the time of day or periods of time, but foolishly failed to make a list. It took me ages last night to compile this list of time-related words (yes, it was a wild night in for me).  Even if nobody reads this, I'm pleased to have finally written all this stuff down for myself.

The list

Crepuscular - relates to twilight, most commonly referring to animals active at dawn or dusk.

Matutinal (or matinal) - the opposite of vespertine, relating to dawn, again most commonly in relation to the habits of animals.  

Cathemeral - neither one nor the other - irregularly active at any time of night or day, according to prevailing circumstances. 

Nocturnal - I think you all know this one. 

Noctivagant - going about in the night, night wandering.

Diurnal - active during the day; something that can be done in one day, happens on a daily basis, or lasts only one day.

Quotidian - of or relating to every day; daily; ordinary or everyday. I like this word because in its latter sense it describes the opposite of what it is: it's an unusual and uncommon word that describes the opposite.

Hemerine - also means of or relating to a day or daily.

Biduous - lasting for two days.

Hebdomadal - weekly. 

Acronychal -  also means something happening in the evening or at nightfall, but primarily refers to a star that rises or sets at the same time as the sun. 

Cosmical - also comes from astronomy, this time relating to a star that rises or sets at sunrise.  

Heliacal - another word about the patterns of stars, this time a star first seen to rise or set at sunrise or sunset after a period when the event was invisible because it was too close to the sun. Probably won't be slipping that one into conversation.  

Yestreen - yesterday night. Why use two words when you can use one? 

Meridian -  relating to noon, which obviously gives us AM (ante meridiam) and PM (post meridiam).

Pridian -  relating to the previous day

Ultradian - refers to cycles of physiological activity which recur with a period shorter than one day but longer than one hour.

Circadian - refers to physiological occurring approximately every 24 hours, or the rhythm of such activity.

Hodiernal - pertaining to the present day (from the Latin hodie for 'today').

Hesternal - of yesterday’s standing or date.

Crastin - an obsolete English word meaning 'the day after', which you will recognise from 'procrastinate', which means put off to the next day. I read in The Horologicon of a word meaning to put of to the day after tomorrow, but I don't remember what it was and I'm too lazy to go and look for it now.

While I was doing my research (also known as 'googling'), I noted another word  relating to time - panychous - but didn't  write down the meaning. Obviously I can't remember it because of the brain trouble. So I went to look it up again tonight and now Google is pretending there's no such word. It returns one result which is part of someone's email address. Maybe I should email this person and ask them what it means? I even looked it up in a proper dictionary (the paper one), and it's not there. If you know what it means, please let me know. 

Sheets to the wind

Today while wandering aimlessly in the city, I went into the shop at the Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square. I picked up a hip flask* to have a closer look at the words etched on it. At the exact moment I read the words "three sheets to the wind" (i.e. very drunk), The Audreys playing on my iPod sang, "sheets to the wind". It's remarkable how often this sort of lyrical coincidence happens to me. 

(* no, I'm not contemplating sneaking liquor into my office or anything like that. Sometimes it would be handy not to have to take a whole bottle of gin with me when I go to a barbecue or whatever.)


Emily said...

Great list! What do you think of people trying to get the word "oxt" into common usage? An example is oxt Tuesday, and it means the Tuesday after the one coming up. It's meant to clarify which day a person is referring to, because sometimes there's confusion when I say "Next Tuesday." Do I mean the next one coming up, or the one AFTER the one coming up? There are so many variables to take into account when trying to figure out which one, so it's much more clear to say "This Tuesday" being the next one coming up, and "Oxt Tuesday" being not the next one but the one after that. See also :)

a work in progress said...

it's *pannychous* that maybe why you couldn't find it, and it means something that lasts all night ;) Heh.

Jayne said...

Hi Emily. Thanks for stopping by. I hadn't heard about the push to get "oxt" into the language. I wonder why they chose "oxt"?

I think it's a bit silly and superfluous really. The one coming up is this weekend and the one after that is next weekend.

If, however, it is merely an attempt to get a word into the dictionary, then I wish the oxters well. (Hee...oxter is an Irish/Scottish/Northen English word for armpit.)

Hey AWIP. Der, me. Google probably asked me if that's what I mean, but I ignored its helpful suggestion. Sorry, Google. And thank you. You get a gold star.

missjane said...

That's gorgeous! I'm glad AWIP could help with pannychous; I tried a few different searches in the OED but couldn't find anything, which, it turns out, is because it's not there. It is in my Mrs Byrne's... though, which is a source book for any number of other word books.

Would you mind if I borrowed a couple of these at some point? I'm particularly fond of those star words.

missjane said...

P.S. the 'day after tomorrow' word is perendinate.

Jayne said...

Hi miss jane. Feel free to use the star words. No need to ask. Happy to facilitate the spread of unusual words.

Where did you get your Mrs Byrne book from? Sounds interesting.

And thanks for sharing the word for putting off something to the day after tomorrow.

missjane said...

Mrs Byrne was a serendipitous find at the Abbotsford Salvos, and cost me all of $3. Some enterprising soul has re-released it under a slightly different name. It is your basic abecedarian list of words, and doesn't have etymologies, but it more than compensates for that through sheer interestingness.

I bought it partly because of her biography; a concert pianist who wrote a dictionary in her spare time, she was the daughter of a famous violinist, and married a novelist/billiard player... I do hope someone makes a movie of her life.