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KISMET

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KISMET

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:42 pm

• kismet •


Pronunciation: kiz-mit • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. (Islam) the will of Allah. 2. Fate, destiny, one's lot, implying fatalism, predestination.

Notes: Today's Good Word is simply prettier than fatalism or predestination, though it means pretty much the same: some external force controls our destiny. Actual story: My sister has a fear of flying. Her husband, defending her from the ribbing she was receiving (again) at the Thanksgiving table, suggested kismet to her, "If it's your time to go, you'll go no matter where you are." My father thought a while, then put up the best defense of my sister's position: "What if it's the pilot's time to go?" Kismet has no derivational family; it is a lexical orphan.

In Play: We often think of how we met our future spouses in terms of kismet (good or bad), but none so much as Jack Winter in his famous New Yorker article of 1994, "How I Met My Wife". It must have been kismet that the music of Alexander Borodin fell upon the ears of Edwin Lester, director of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, and made him think it would make a good musical comedy, called Kismet (1953).

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from Turkish kismet from Persian qismat from Arabic qisma(t) "portion, lot, fate". The root of this word comes from the root of qasama "he divided". The meaning of this word wandered from "to divide" to "practice divination", while the noun from this word qisma(t), moved on from "divination" to "kismet". The word is used in the Muslim world now in the sense of "luck". The same root descended to Modern Hebrew, another Semitic language, as qosem "magic". (It was sheer kismet that James Bish and his affectionate wife Eileen couldn't agree on the meaning of today's Good Word, and turned to Dr. Goodword for help.)
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Re: KISMET

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Mar 06, 2013 11:50 pm

Such a beautiful word to state something I totally disbelieve.
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Re: KISMET

Postby Pattie » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:42 am

There is, or used to be, a minor controversy about what the dying Admiral Nelson is supposed to have said to Captain Thomas Hardy after the Battle of Trafalger (1805). Mortally wounded, and being supported by Hardy, Nelson reportedly said, "Kiss me, Hardy." This was later bowdlerised - in a no doubt more prurient age - to "Kismet, Hardy." This has been debunked on historico/linguistic grounds since the earliest reported use of 'kismet' in English is 1849. Whatever Nelson said, Hardy did indeed kiss him.
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Re: KISMET

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:02 am

Pattie: you haven't been posting lately. You have been missed. I'm glad you are back. The Nelson story is, of course, not the origin of kismet. Nelson certainly died on the HMS Victory that day. Hardy was the Captain of the ship. During their deathbed conversation, Hardy kissed him on the cheek. It is a stirring experience to visit the HMS Victory. I have done so several times.
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Re: KISMUT

Postby MTC » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:10 am

My bathetic and humble offering to the learned discussion,

kismut: your destined dog
Last edited by MTC on Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: KISMET

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:10 pm

kismutt-I shall use the term
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: KISMET

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:01 pm

Interesting to me the word is Arabic. I had always assumed it was Hindu or Buddhist. Fits with "Inshallah," which is also a Christian concept, i.e. according to God's will.
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Re: KISMET

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:11 pm

Perry: I do not think Buddhists or Hindus are much concerned about destiny. Believing in the wheel of life pretty much rules that out. The three Abrahamic religions concern themselves with determinism and free will along with most modern philosophers who are "scientific determinists". Determinism is the fad of the day. I root for free will. The Good Doctor says kismet means luck, but I think Abrahamic religionists mean destiny or determinism when they use the word. I do not believe in luck, determinism or predestination, as it is commonly understood. Using the words luck and kismet when one means what happens when you win or lose the lottery is fair game for casual conversation. Just don't get too philosophical about it.

G. K. Chesterton, one of my heroes, wrote of determinism, "I regret that I cannot do my duty as a true modern, by cursing everybody who made me whatever I am. I am not clear about what that is; but I am pretty sure that most of it is my own fault.”
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Re: KISMET

Postby call_copse » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:44 am

@Philip

I predicted this exact post from you, surprisingly enough. Your moist robot programming made it absolutely inevitable. :wink:
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Re: KISMET

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:47 pm

What about Karma?
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Re: KISMET

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Mar 08, 2013 5:05 pm

call_copse: Did you really? Since your prediction was also deterministic how did you know whether you were destined to get it right or wrong? I know I am pretty predictable, kismet or not.

Perry: Only Hindus and Buddhists really understand what Karma means. The western mind is not properly equipped. In my imperfect understanding of Hinduism and Buddhism, karma is the curse of having to remain on the wheel of life for eternity. It is the duty of the devout to break their own karma, thus escaping the wheel of life and be transported to Nirvana.
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Re: KISMET

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:32 pm

But as I hear it used, or read it, the two are not synonyms but overlap in that an outside force, power, coincidence, or the like is thought to control our destiny - at least partially. Sometimes someone arrives at a point in life, good or bad, and ascribes it to either kismet or karma. Either the gods willed it or it was inevitable in my nature.
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Re: KISMET

Postby Slava » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:50 pm

Pl, I agree on the different but slightly over-lapping meanings of kismet and luck.

Short definitions, the way I seem them:

Kismet - fate which must happen,
Luck - fate which can happen.
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Re: KISMET

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:46 am

Slava: Cute definitions. I don't understand them, but they are still catchy. To me, luck is something like a random number generator ( an oxymoron but still useful). Things happen and, since one doesn't know why, it is called luck. Kismet is fate and it never happens.
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