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CONFABULATE

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CONFABULATE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:33 pm

• confabulate •

Pronunciation: kên--byê-layt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To converse casually, gab, chatter, chew the fat. 2. To fabricate filling for the gaps in memory, to mix fact with fiction intentionally or unintentionally.

Notes: Today's word comes from a large and happy family. The noun is, as expected, confabulation, and the adjective, confabulatory. Someone who readily confuses fact with fiction is a confabulator.

In Play: The first meaning of today's word is simply to gab: "When Hardy and Sandy Beech wake up in the middle of night together they often confabulate for several minutes before going back to sleep." The second meaning is by far the more intriguing in light of today's politics: "Constanza confabulated a resume from facts about jobs she had held and wishful thinking about how she performed on them."

Word History: Today's word comes from the past participle of Latin confabulari, confabulatus. This word is made up of con "with, together" + fabulari "to speak, talk". The base verb is a variation of fabula "speech, conversation", the noun of fari "to speak". It also went into the making of fabula "story, tale", from which we borrowed fable. The same root came through Germanic history and ended up in Old English as fae. This word caem down to Modern English as both Fay(e) and fairy, beings known for their enchanting speech. People gifted with the blarney, of course, are affable, a prefixed form of the same root. (We complete today's Good Word by conveying, without confabulation, our gratitude to Chris Berry for nominating it.)
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on confabulate

Postby wurdpurrson » Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:50 pm

As a child growing up in the Intermountain Western part of the US, I often heard the word "confab" (with emphasis on the first syllable) used in extended family casual conversation. It meant to have a discussion or talk about something. I always just assumed that it was a colloquialism until I later discovered confabulate. I don't recall that the second meaning was applicable.

omma
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:27 pm

Welcome wordpurrson. Hope to hear more from you. Are we to assume you are also a cat purrson?
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On wurds and cats

Postby wurdpurrson » Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:57 pm

Indeed I am (not TOO obvious, eh?), along with harboring a fondness for most critters, except perhaps scorpions and garden slugs. Although I do find them quite interesting. I just prefer to not share proximity with them. Thanks for asking, and for the welcome.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:33 pm

A ditto on the welcome wurd purrson!
It's great to have lots more input, so we don't grow
stale. I agree with scorpions, tho' I've not much
of an opinion on garden slugs.
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on confabulation and garden slugs

Postby wurdpurrson » Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:25 pm

Garden slugs are rather like Gertrude Stein's Oakland: there's no There there. Mostly lotsa slime and goosh. However, one slug mating procedure I just happened to observe was rather lyrical, and I wrote a poem about it with a prosaic title, Slug Love.

Revisiting confabulate, I realized that the second meaning may indeed be more relevant the older I grow and the larger the gaps in memory.
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VISCOUS

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:49 pm

Today's word, then, is very topical and à propos.
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Postby wurdpurrson » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:09 am

Indeed! How prescient!

Á propos to nothing yet discussed: where did the phrase "grass widow" originate? I've heard a couple of fairly logical theories over the years. Thanks.
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Postby call_copse » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:05 am

Hi Wurdpurrson,

wurdpurrson wrote:Indeed! How prescient!

Á propos to nothing yet discussed: where did the phrase "grass widow" originate? I've heard a couple of fairly logical theories over the years. Thanks.


I can do no better than quote from:
http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-gra1.htm

'The usual meaning given in British dictionaries is of a woman whose husband is temporarily away, say on business. This sense is known in other English-speaking communities such as Australia. It has long been used in the USA in the rather different sense of “a woman who is separated, divorced, or lives apart from her husband”, as the Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary has it.

Some writers have suggested that it’s actually a corruption of grace-widow. But etymologists are quite sure the first word does refer to the plant, because the phrase has always been recorded with grass and not grace.

Another theory is that it’s slang from the British Raj for wives sent away during the hot summer to the cooler (and greener) hill stations while their husbands remained on duty in the plains. We can trace this theory back to the famous Anglo-Indian dictionary Hobson-Jobson of 1886. It says that the term is applied “with a shade of malignancy”, a tantalisingly opaque comment.

The phrase itself is much older than British India. It’s first used by Sir Thomas More in his Dialogue of 1528. But then it meant something rather different: either an abandoned mistress or an unmarried woman who had cohabited with several men. It might have expressed the idea that the abandoned lover had been “put out to grass”. But it could conceivably have come from the same type of origin as bastard; this is from the Latin bastum for a pack saddle, suggesting a child born after a brief encounter on an improvised bed, such as a packsaddle pillow, whose owner had gone by morning. Could the grass in grass widow refer to surreptitious love-making in the fields rather than indoors, or the straw in a barn used for an illicit tryst?

Our modern meaning first turns up in the 1840s. It seems possible that the term was applied derisively to Anglo-Indian wives sent away for the summer (were there perhaps well-known opportunities for hanky-panky in the hill stations?) and that it only gradually took on the modern sense through a reinterpretation of grass to mean the green landscape of the hills. That could explain the “shade of malignancy” comment in Hobson-Jobson, though it says tactfully about the older senses of the word that “no such opprobrious meanings attach to the Indian use”.'
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:51 am

Wow! Thanks for the most interesting essay!
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Postby wurdpurrson » Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:22 pm

Thanks so much for recalling that information from worldwidewords (a valuable site). I'd seen that posting some time ago, and found it quite definitive. Just was curious to see if there was another perspective out there on an obscure phrase.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:35 pm

Somewhere I got the idea that the refrence was to a widow left penniless except for real estate, as in land-poor. Too bad Walt Kelly is no longer with us. He would reference "grass widders," and he usually knew better than most of us what he was talking about.
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Postby bamaboy56 » Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:00 pm

Interesting discussion! I've heard of black widows, merry widows, football widows, widow's walks and widow makers. First time I've heard of "grass widows". I continue to learn something new every day here. Howdy, wurdpurrson. I remember visiting Seattle years ago (during a week when it wasn't raining) and finding out that slugs are practically the state's representative critter -- much like the armadillo is to Texas or the 'possum or skeeter is to the Deep South!
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Thanks

Postby wurdpurrson » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:30 pm

I appreciate all the welcoming comments - thanks. On slugs again: they are a representative critter in the Northwest. The ones we have on the Olympic Peninsula are not quite so colorful or large as Seattle's, for we have muchless rainfall in the North Coast rainshadow. My final word on them is to let all of you know that one can buy little enameled slug hat pins for your favorite cap, to show your local Slug Pride. If one wants to.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:36 am

Like WOW man! SLUG pride! And never heard of rain shadow! Slug pins? Do they also make baseball caps with slugs on them?
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