Alphadictionary.com

Our Sponsors

Technical Translation
Website Translation Clip Art
 

Calvous

Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.

Calvous

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat May 04, 2013 11:16 pm

• calvous •


Pronunciation: kæl-vês • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Bald.

Notes: No, this word has nothing to do with the calves of the legs or small cows. It is rare but still legal; it remains in the Random House dictionary. The noun, meaning "baldness", is calvity, and may be found in the Oxford English dictionary. Most dictionaries list calvities as the noun for today's adjective; however, it is hard to imagine a plural use for calvity.

In Play: Although we strongly advocate careful word selection for clearer speech, there are times when a bit of misguidance is the humane thing to do. If you say something like, "You'll like M. T. Head, Hetty; he is quite a calvous guy," Hetty may keep an eye on M. T.'s legs and miss the fact that he is bald. Americans in the US are constantly looking for euphemisms for words we find embarrassing, so here is a new one: "Either Les Hair's forehead is growing or he is getting a bit calvous."

Word History: The Latin word calvus "bald", from which today's Good Word was borrowed, is directly related to German kahl "bald, naked". It may go back to the same root that turns up in Serbian as glava and Russian as golova "head", though the semantics here is a bit shaky. More likely the root of this word went into the making of Russian golyi "naked" and Serbian go(li) "naked". For sure it has remained in the Romance languages, where calvo still means "bald" in Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. In English the same root turned into callow "immature, inexperienced". This term originally referred to naked, unfledged birds.
• The Good Dr. Goodword
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3562
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA

Re: Calvous

Postby jisner2 » Sun May 05, 2013 12:13 pm

The traditional place of Jesus' crucifixion is "Golgotha," from the Aramaic meaning "place of the skull." The English New Testament translates it as Calvary. Thanks to today's Good Word we know why!
jisner2
Junior Lexiterian
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:13 pm

Re: Calvous

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun May 05, 2013 12:15 pm

Naked and unfledged birds: I've seen that use in
Cornell University College of Ornithology speak.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
User avatar
LukeJavan8
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 3476
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: Land of the Flat Water

Re: Calvous

Postby MTC » Sun May 05, 2013 4:51 pm

LukeJavan8 wrote:Naked and unfledged birds: I've seen that use in
Cornell University College of Ornithology speak.


And that's the calvous truth!
MTC
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1070
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:40 am
Location: Pasadena

Re: Calvous

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun May 05, 2013 6:56 pm

WELCOME jisner
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
User avatar
LukeJavan8
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 3476
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: Land of the Flat Water

Re: Calvous

Postby David Myer » Mon May 06, 2013 7:52 pm

I'm not sure this one really adds to the richness of the language. I might even argue that it should be allowed to continue its obsolescent path. Bald is a widely understood word. Use of a euphemism or softer alternative word only serves to harden the word we are avoiding. And since there should be no shame at all in baldness, let's use the word bald wherever it's appropriate. I'm all for getting rid of euphemisms. "He chooses to be bald because he finds it cooler to have no hair on his head, never mind the savings in hair-dressing charges." So baldness is a good thing. No need to shy away from using the word.

Interestingly I see that 'spinster' and 'bachelor' have fallen out of favour. We have instead 'unmarried' - with fewer unfortunate connotations. So maybe there is an improvement in the language with this one. Or maybe we should use the old words and imbue them with new unashamed meaning.

Also interestingly on euphemisms, we have the original word used in 'homosexual' where the old euphemism 'queer' is no longer acceptable. There's nothing so queer as folks - or something.
David Myer
Junior Lexiterian
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:21 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: Calvous

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon May 06, 2013 9:24 pm

Queer has an obvious progression to homosexual. Anyone remember how "gay" progresed thereunto?
pl
Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2392
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA

Re: Calvous

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue May 07, 2013 11:43 pm

Welcome jisner2. Post often. Thanks for reminding us that the Aramaic word Golgotha became Calvary in Latin and that the word is related to Calvous.

David Myer, although I was not previously aware of the word calvous, it still deserves a place in the English language. There is no euphemism at work here. Being of an advanced age and not yet bald, at least not technically, I see no problem with either word.

Spinster carries some baggage but the baggage needs to be remembered when discussing unmarried women of earlier times. They were frequently quite literally spinsters. I know some of my spinster great aunts were persuaded by their parents to adopt spinsterhood for life in order to have a secure future and to take care of the old ones and the orphans in the family. It does seem unfair to them. They were both lovely ladies and raised a passel of children who would have otherwise gone to orphanages. Men and women both get bachelor degrees. Bachelorette was a feeble attempt at a word that really never took hold. I am okay with its death.

When was queer a euphamsim? It is a pejorative word. Hasn't homosexual always (well not always, but for many years) been the technical term?

I am stressed that the word gay has been appropriated by a community with acquiescence on every hand. Whenever I think of the frothy little travelogue, "Our Hearts Were Young and Gay", written in the roaring twenties, the word now has to contend for its earlier position. And how about my friend Gaylord?

Language flows along. We cannot stop the stream. Sometimes we can lament and sometimes we can exalt, but most individuals have not the power to control.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
Philip Hudson
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1777
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:41 am
Location: Texas

Re: Calvous

Postby David Myer » Wed May 08, 2013 12:23 am

Thanks Phillip. There's some enlightening stuff in your comments.

On use of 'queer' though, I am not sure it was originally a pejorative term. You are suggesting that rather than a euphemism, it is a dysphemism. But Wikipaedia for example, suggests it became pejorative only in the twentieth century.

Whether these days it is either might be debated.

Your comments on spinster are interesting. Certainly the word carries baggage. And in so doing, it might be argued that it is a richer word - it carries that extra meaning, beyond simply unmarried woman. I have checked a few dictionaries and some suggest the term spinster is a derogatory one, though they fail to explain why being an unmarried woman should be derogatable (I wonder if that is a word? I suspect it isn't but the meaning I intend should be apparent.)

Interesting to hear of it in your family, playing out as a career option (even if not a choice!) Perhaps we should encourage the careers people in our schools to put the option on the table!

But back to calvous. It was actually the learned team at alphadictionary that suggested calvous was a euphemism (at least that is what I inferred). And far be it for me to cavil at their pronouncements.

I love your use of passel, incidentally.
David Myer
Junior Lexiterian
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:21 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: Calvous

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed May 08, 2013 2:33 pm

In the mid 20th Century queer primarily meant odd. I remember my first girlfriend saying, "I have the queerest toes." No, I have no idea why I remember that. The term was also used in my high school for homosexual. Context made the difference.

Still, how did gay progress from joyful to queer?
pl
Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2392
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA

Re: Calvous

Postby MTC » Wed May 08, 2013 3:44 pm

There is a lengthy Wikipedia article with 39 footnotes which provides an answer to that very question, Perry.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay

For those who feel the original meaning of "gay" has been hijacked, there hope of recovery:
"The British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has argued that the term gay is merely a cultural expression which reflects the current status of homosexuality within a given society, and claiming that "Queer, gay, homosexual ... in the long view, they are all just temporary identities. One day, we will not need them at all." (Underlining added.)

So stick around. One day you may get "gay" back. Then you can go out and have "a gay old time."
MTC
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1070
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:40 am
Location: Pasadena

Re: Calvous

Postby David Myer » Wed May 08, 2013 7:54 pm

Yes, a gay old time, with some appropriate spinster - even if you are calvous by then.
David Myer
Junior Lexiterian
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:21 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: Calvous

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed May 08, 2013 8:46 pm

Excellent article and exactly what I was looking for! The turning point seems to have been its use for uninhibited pleasure without moral restraints. Thus, you can see its segue into current use.
pl
Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2392
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA


Return to Good Word Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 2 guests