Realize Magazine's Coolest Words Defined D - F

Take a Wild Ride through the Most Stupendous Language in the World part 2

Being the next installment of definitions and etymologies for a compendium of words either awesome to roll across the tongue, or of which it is startling to consider the meaning, or curious etymology.  

Most of these definitions and etymologies have been hybridized from a number of sources. Thanks to, an amazing online resource, and which aggregates definitions from countless other dictionaries. Nods also to Webster’s Third International and Wikipedia for some definitions and backstories, and in the greatest part to the Online Etymology Dictionary  

(Re the occasional use of the acroynm PIE: The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans. PIE was the first proposed proto-language to be widely accepted by linguists. The existence of PIE was first postulated in the 18th century by Sir William Jones, who observed the similarities between Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, and Latin. Scholars estimate that PIE may have been spoken as a single language (before divergence began) around 3700 BC, though estimates by different authorities can vary by more than a millennium. 

The existence of PIE was originally postulated in the 18th century by Sir William Jones, who observed the similarities between Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, and Latin. Scholars estimate that PIE may have been spoken as a single language (before divergence began) around 3700 BC, though estimates by different authorities can vary by more than a millennium.  

Mainstream scholarship places the Proto-Indo-Europeans in the forest-steppe zone immediately to the north of the western end of the Pontic-Caspian steppe in Eastern Europe. By the late 3rd millennium BCE, offshoots of the Proto-Indo-Europeans had reached Anatolia, the Aegean, Western Europe, Central Asia and southern Siberia. These same speakers were the original domesticators of the horse.

Note: in the interest of brevity, often the intermediary languages between current English and say Greek, are left out.  Usually words travel from Greek to Latin to French or Greek to Middle English, etc...  The occasional inclusion of this abbreviation: cf. comes from L. confer "compare." In other words, "see this entry for more information."

Please also excuse any variations in style of definition/etymology, as standardizing data is not within my bailiwick. And of course some of these words really don’t need definitions...

Dang - a euphemism for you know what:) Also known as a minced oath, an expression formed by mangling in some fashion a word whose references are taboo or profane:"gosh" for God, “gee” for Jesus, "darn" for damn, and "heck" for Hell.  From Wikipedia: etymologically, the eupheme is the opposite of the blaspheme (evil-speaking). The term euphemism itself was used as a euphemism by the ancient Greeks, meaning "to keep a holy silence" (speaking well by not speaking at all).

I just learned something really cool ~ which is that there is a sort of backroom version of Wikipedia known as Talk. Check out this one on Euphemism:

Delphinium - A plant (genus Delphinium) of the buttercup family that bears tall spikes of typically blue flowers, ranging from light periwinkle to deep cobalt but it also comes in salmon and light pink. (Also know as Larkspur.) From Ancient Greek δελφίς (delphis, "dolphin") due to their flower shape, thought to resemble a back of a dolphin. Named by botanist Carl von Linnaeus (1707-1778)

In the Language of Flowers, Delphinium symbolizes levity, fun, big-heartedness, ardent attachment, joy. 

Dastardly - 1560s, 1) showing despicable cowardice (now obsolete) 2) meanly base, sneaking, evil or cruel. Originally "dull," from Middle English. "I'm afraid my dear girl, that the idealistic American capitol of the "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" era, has been quite eclipsed by deeds dastardly in every sense of the word." Anon.

Deviltry - 1) wicked and cruel behavior 2) reckless or malicious behavior that causes discomfort or annoyance in others. (Gotta say I love ALL these synonyms: mischief, mischief-making, mischievousness, devilment, rascality, roguery, roguishness, shenanigan.)

Exhilarate -  1530‘s, fill with sublime emotion; to enliven, invigorate; stimulate.  From Latin exhilarāre: to gladden. From hilarāre  to cheer (from the Greek word hilaros, ἱλαρός (propitious or merry ('hilarious'); prompt or willing.)

Epiphany - from late Greek epiphaneia "manifestation, striking appearance" (in New Testament, "advent or manifestation of Christ".) Name of a festival celebrating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles. Of divine beings other than Christ, first recorded 1660s; general literary sense of "any manifestation or revelation" appeared 1840, first in De Quincey.  Thank you Mr. De Quincey for liberating this term.

Elixir - mid-13c., from Medieval Latin: elixir "philosopher's stone," believed by alchemists to transmute baser metals into gold and/or to cure diseases and prolong life, from Arabic al-iksir, probably from late Greek xerion "powder for drying wounds," from xeros "dry". General sense of "strong tonic" is 1590s; used for quack medicines from at least 1630s.  Melioration seems to be in process, as most references point to an elixir being a liquid with transcendental properties.

Enthusiasm - c.1600, from Middle French enthousiasme (16c.) and directly from Late Latin enthusiasmus, from Greek enthousiasmos "divine inspiration," from enthousiazein "to be inspired or possessed by a god, be rapt, be in ecstasy," from entheos "divinely inspired, possessed by a god," from en "in" +theos "god". Acquired a derogatory sense of "excessive religious emotion" (1650s) under the Puritans; generalized sense of "fervor, zeal" (the main modern sense) is first recorded 1716.  “The intoxication that they sought was that of ‘enthusiasm’, of union with the god.”  Bertrand Russell, 1946

Flummox - To perplex, bewilder or confuse. Which is what linguists are in regard to the word’s uncertain origin. It is probably from some forgotten British dialect. OED "The formation seems to be onomatopœic, expressive of the notion of throwing down roughly and untidily." It may come from the old English word, flummock, meaning "to make untidy or confuse.” “I confess to being flummoxed by those opposed to same sex marriage. If there are people mad to marry, wouldn’t that diminish the divorce rate?” Anon.

Floozy - also floozie, "woman of disreputable character," 1902... A woman regarded as tawdry or sexually promiscuous. Perhaps a variation of flossy "fancy, frilly" (1890s slang), with the notion of "fluffiness." (syn: strumpet, trollop, harlot, hoochie, hussie, slut, tramp, tart, slattern, chippie, skank, jezebel, minx, wench... etc.) Why so many ‘cute’ terms for sexually liberated women and so few for men? Oh that’s right, they’re supposed to be mammals.

Flabbergasted - 1772, mentioned (with ‘bored’) in a magazine article as a new vogue word, likely an arbitrary formation from flabby or flapper and aghast.  

Neologism courtesy of Realize: “Flabbergastronomy - the new nouvelle cuisine including such culinary advances as aerated fluffs of what were formerly solid vittles, extraneous organs and body parts you never wanted to know existed, and entomophagy, human consumption of insects. When they start serving aerated bug puree, I’ll know civilization has come full circle.”

For the first round of definitions/etymologies, click here. 

For the second round, G - J, click here