REALIZE MAGAZINE'S 101 Coolest Words Defined: K - M

More Cavorting in the World's Most Uproarious Language K-M

Kitsch -  from German kitsch, lit. "gaudy, trash," from dialectal kitschen "to smear.": excessively garish, or in bad taste or of lowbrow quality or condition: “teetering on the brink of kitsch.”  As refers to a work of art or an object: garish, pretentious, or sentimental, usu. vulgar and worthless (think kitsch plastic models of the royal family). Well, the Germans might have originated the concept, but somehow Americans upped the ante and probably produces more kitsch than any other nation on Earth.

Karma - 1827, in Buddhism, the sum of a person's actions in one life, which determine his/her form in the next; from Sanskrit karma "action, work, deed; fate," related to krnoti, Avestan kerenaoiti "makes," Old Persian kunautiy "he makes;" from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root *kwer- "to make, form," related to the second element in Sanskrit.

Luscious - late 15c., perhaps a variant (with form perhaps influenced by Old French luxure, lusure) of Middle English licius "delicious" (c.1400), which is perhaps a shortening of delicious, although the OED is against this. This seems to me to be rather an onomatopeia, lovely to unfurl from the tongue, de la langue - almost a mouth-watering word.




Libidinal - "psychic drive or energy, usually associated with sexual instinct," 1892, carried over untranslated in English edition of Krafft-Ebing's "Psychopathia Sexualis"; Freud's use of the term led to its popularity; from L. Libido "desire, lust," from libere "to be pleasing, to please," ultimately having the same ancestor as O.E. lufu (love). 




Lepidoptery - the pursuit of butterflies. Vladimir Nabokov was an avid lepidopterist. Lepidoptera: an order of insects comprising the butterflies, moths, and skippers. The name means "scale wing," and lepidopteran wings are covered with microscopic scales, which are iridescent and brightly colored and are usually visible as the "fuzz" along the edges of the wing.





Labyrinthine - from "labyrinth, maze," figuratively "bewildering arguments," from Latin labyrinthus, from Greek labyrinthos "maze, large building with intricate passages," especially the structure built by Daedelus to hold the Minotaur near Knossos in Crete, from a pre-Greek language; perhaps related to Lydian labrys "double-edged axe," symbol of royal power, which fits with the theory that the labyrinth was originally the royal Minoan palace on Crete and meant "palace of the double-axe." Used in English for "maze" early 15c., and in figurative sense of "confusing state of affairs" (1540s).

Lambent -  1. Flickering lightly over or on a surface: lambent moonlight. 2. Effortlessly light or brilliant: lambent wit. 3. Having a gentle glow; luminous. 1640s, from figurative use of Latin lambere "to lick," from Proto Indo-European root *lab-, indicative of smacking lips or licking (cf. Gk.laptein "to sip, lick,")

Mama - Interestingly, the reduplication of *ma- is nearly universal among the Indo-European languages (cf. Greek mamme "mother, grandmother," Latin mamma, Persian mama, Russian and Lithuanian mama "mother," German Muhme "mother's sister," French maman, Welsh mam"mother"). Probably a natural sound in baby-talk, perhaps imitative of sound made while sucking.

Mellifluous - 1. Flowing with sweetness or honey. 2. Smooth and sweet. Early 15c., "sweet, pleasing" (of an odor, a style of speaking or writing, etc.), from L.L. mellifluus "flowing with (or as if with) honey," from L. mel "honey" (related to Gk. meli "honey;")+ -fluus "flowing," from fluere "to flow"

Alan Rickman as Mesmer

Alan Rickman in the film MESMER

Mesmerize - To enthrall. Derived from the work of Franz Anton Mesmer, a 17 cent. German who theorised that there was a natural energetic transference that occurred between all animated and inanimate objects. He called this force magnétisme animal. Mesmerism shares features with Vitalist theories that emphasize the movement of life "energy" through distinct channels in the body. The theory became the basis of treatment in Europe and the United States that was based on non verbal elements such as gaze, passes (movements of the hands near the body accompanied by intention of the operator), and mental elements such as will and intention, and that sometimes depended also on "laying on of hands." It was very popular into the nineteenth century, with a strong cultural impact. From some of these practices branched out hypnotism, spiritualism, New Thought, so called "magnetic healing", and parapsychological research. (from Wikipedia.)

Mumbledy-peg - an old outdoor game played by children using pocketknives. The term "Mumblety-peg" came from the practice of putting a peg of about 2 or 3 inches into the ground. The loser of the game had to take it out with his teeth. Mumbletypeg was very popular as a schoolyard game in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries, but with increased concern over child safety the game has declined in popularity. Mark Twain's book Tom Sawyer, Detective recounts "mumbletypeg" as one of boys' favorite outdoor games. (from Wikipedia) Ah, the good old days...