Category Archives: Read-in…

Covey

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Covey \ˈkə-vē\

noun: a mature bird or pair of birds with a brood of young; also : a small flock; Company, group

I’ve been editing a lot lately (hence the less-than-usual number of posts), and in my editing I’ve found some absolutely lovely words–not all of which were meant to be written. But, of course, that makes them all the more fun to find! The best kind of typo is an amazing-vocabulary-inducing typo–and such was covey.

Covey really is a lovely word–it even sounds lovely, like a pet name shared amongst friends. C’mon, coveys, let’s go! And that is actually a pretty good false use of this word–it’s indicative of a cozy little grouping of birds, or people, with a close relationship.

Aw, how sweet.

So, how to use it? How about:

The covey of friends never used their superpowers for evil, only for good.

Or:

Exploring my barn the other day, I found a covey of pigeons holed up in one of the rafters–I just hope the cat doesn’t find them!

So this wonderful word, where did it come from? It’s still pretty true to its original, literal, meaning, as it turns out–it was first used in the 14th century, back when everyone spoke Middle English and it meant “brood of partridges,” but before that it was French, covee (brood), and before that Gall-Romanic, cubata (hatchling), and before that Latin, cubare–to sit, incubate, or hatch.

So it’s always been a bird word. But one that’s definitely worth using! Whether or not it’s done intentionally.

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Labyrinthine

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Labyrinthine \-ˈrin(t)-thən; -ˈrin-ˌthīn, -ˌthēn\

adjective: of, relating to, affecting, or originating in the inner ear

Wait, what? No, that can’t be it, it’s got to come from labyrinth, the maze in Greek mythology where the Minotaur lived! Right?

A Minotaur. NOT to be messed with–also, probably pretty sensitive about his ears…

*Further searching*

Ah, of course. Why, oh why did you send me to a medical definition first, eh, Merriam-Webster? Anyway, here’s the right entry:

adjective: of, relating to, or resembling a labyrinth : intricate, involved

Now that’s the labyrinthine I was thinking of. Today (and most of the time recently, as my general failure to blog reveals), my thoughts were labyrinthine as they swirled around the labyrinthine process of choosing where my life goes next: always hard to see where the Minotaur is lurking.

Anyway. How to use this word? Well, try:

Alice wandered through the labyrinthine halls of the box store for hours, searching beneath sales racks and behind masses of empty boxes, only to find it–and realize she had left her coupons at home.

Or, perhaps:

In her years as a government employee, Jane had learned all the secrets to maneuvering the labyrinthine paperwork involved in getting stuff done–but when they started putting literal red tape everywhere, even she thought they’d gone too far, and a real Minotaur might be waiting for her around the bend.

Or, if you want to go medical:

Joseph’s labyrinthine infection was too much for him to stand.

Yep, that last one’s pretty boring. And probably used incorrectly, too–I’m no doctor, after all. Feel free to correct me if you are!

I’ve already tipped my hand as to where this word comes from originally, but here we go again. It was first used in the 1630s, (1632, if Merriam-Webster, linked above, is to be believed), and it came, not surprisingly, from the word labyrinth, which was itself first used in English in the 1400s. Oh, and it came from the Greek, or some proto-Greek language.

So just remember: whenever you say something’s labyrinthine, you’re implying that there’s a huge half-bull monster lurking somewhere in the maze of that something. Adds a bit more excitement than a mere “complicated,” don’t you think?

Perspicuous

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Perspicuous  \pər-ˈspi-kyə-wəs\

Adjective: plain to the understanding especially because of clarity and precision of presentation

Up until now, the words I’ve posted have been favorites of mine, things I’ve thought of off-hand and thought would be wonderful to share with the world. Then there’s this word. I’m not gonna lie, when I first read this word (in the adverbial form) in Momma Be Thy Name’s recently Fresh-Pressed post, my first thought was that it was a snarky intentional mis-writing of “suspiciously”–but I wasn’t sure. So I looked it up.

And hey, look at that! Perspicuous! It’s a thing! And quite a cool one, too.  It’s like obvious or clear-cut or transparent. Only way more impressive sounding. Try these on for size:

No matter how hard she tried to hide it, it was perspicuous to all those watching that my niece had peed her pants.

or:

Even with 5 years of language training, written Chinese has never become perspicuous to me.

And, in the apparent interest of having a new linguistic origin for each posting, this word comes from the 15th century, from the Latin perspicuus, meaning transparent or clear, and sharing a root perspicere with the word perspective.

I’ve never been gladder to get a new perspective on a faux suspicious. It’s so perspicuous to me now!