Have you ever had a word that was a personal favorite, one that you used often enough to keep it fresh on the tongue, yet sparingly enough that it only got pulled out for usage when you wanted to make an especial point? Well, I suppose I am revealing the inner nerd in me when I say this, but I have. And today I got corrected in the definition of said word. And in the online slang of today, I got 'owned'.
It was one of those types of bantering three way conversations which often crop up at work when things are slow and boring, and I happened to drop the word 'pentultimate' about something, referring to the idea that it was the greatest of the greatest. Apparently my colleagues who wear the tape and glasses getup of a network admin nerd are merely posing. They are in actuality walking dictionaries. A couple of Homo Encyclopedicus Americanus if you will. You may disagree, thinking I am overreacting, but you weren't here to see the way they replied to my utterance. Imagine a stoat going after a litter of freshly born field mice and you'll get the general idea.
The syllable was barely past my lips when they launched for my spine, teeth bared.
But I digress.
The posting is really about perception of particular key personal words. And my poor pentultimate fell prey to the honest light of day. As it turns out, there is no word such as pentultimate. There is however a word penultimate, minus the t, meaning the next to last.
Ouch!I've been using a word with a definition which is a juxtaposition to my intended meaning.
It used to bear the traces of greatness, infused by the flavors of a myriad of associations. It made me think of moxie, panache, verve. Casius Clay before the rope-a-dope, or JFK before Marilyn.
Now I just think of getting the next to last word in. And that's like getting next to first place, or having the second best opinion.
My world has come crashing down this morning in a small way.
So after the initial resentment of being corrected (I hate that!), I am fine with it. It's been a while since I've said something truly embarrassing, and today's experience shall surely mark low on the gauge of my foot in mouth moments. At least it wasn't a repeat of the time where I interposed a word of sexual nature in eighth grade English class. I was called that name for weeks afterwards whenever schoolmates saw me in the hallways.
So all in all, it's OK. I'm mostly bummed that I lose a word. Or I could just go all Lewis Caroll on it, and start to make my own up. And that sounds like a great idea.