I'm quite excited about my SOED. If you don't know what the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is then you may want to head back to my post on dictionaries (found here). It is quite the nerdy post, if I may say so myself.
Today I was reading critical theory, particularly Toni Morrison's Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (love it by the way), and I came across an italicized word that I didn't know:
"It is just this concept of literary and scholarly moeurs (which functions smoothly in literary criticism, but neither makes nor receives credible claims in other disciplines) that has terminated the shelf life of some once extremely well-regarded American authors and blocked access to the remarkable insights some of their works contain."
I'm hoping I am not alone in not being able to figure out the meaning of moeurs through the "context clues." I read and re-read the sentence, including the sentences preceding and following, to no avail. Nope, couldn't figure it out.
No problem. I headed to my AHD (American Heritage Dictionary) app, which is great for quick reference when I'm reading (and keep my nerd cred in good standing), and guess what? Word not found.
SOED to the rescue!
Here is our definition:
"The behaviour, customs, or habits of a people or a group of people."
Ahh...finding and reading that definition was like taking a long sip of cold apple juice first thing in the morning--quenching (I've been on an apple juice "thing" since my epic battle with the cold of 2011--please don't judge me).
And of course, it is quite a wonderful word. Thank you Mrs. Morrison for introducing it to me; I will add it to my personal agglomeration of words. (I'm trying to use big words to practice for the GRE--so don't mind my bombastic language.)
So there. My first word crush--moeurs.
I'd like to add agglomeration and bombastic as honorary mentions today. They too, are great words.
agglomeration, n.--the action of agglomerating; an agglomerated mass.
agglomerate, v.--collected into a mass.
bombastic, adj.-- (derived from bombast) of the nature of bombast; given to inflated language.
bombast, fig.--inflated, turgid, or high-sounding language; empty rhetoric.
(This reminds me that I need to do a review of my dictionaries.)
Three new words...use them and be merry!