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Best Words Ever: Steatopygous

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The Superior Person's Book of Words by Peter Bowler

In today’s installment of best words ever, we’ll be looking at something a little less classy that paralipsis.

Before we get to the word steatopygous we have to look at the word steatopyga.

From the OED:

A protuberance of the buttocks, due to an abnormal accumulation of fat in and behind the hips and thighs, found (more markedly in women than in men) as a characteristic of certain peoples, esp. the Khoekhoe and San of South Africa.

So, if you are working with a large caboose, you are steatopygous. This is one of those words that can be used as an insult without the insulted having any clue what is going on. Of course, if you insult the well-derriered to dazzle your friends, there is a high probability that your friends won’t have any idea what it means either. Then, through your explanation, you may find yourself looking like a pedant. Or becoming one.

I encourage you to work it into as many conversations as possible today. If opportunities fail to present themselves, you can always start a conversation about the Khoekhoe.

“Did you know that, according to the OED they…?”

If you’re a word lover, I have two recommendations for you today.

1. The Oxford English Writer’s Thesaurus

2. The Superior Person’s Book of Words by Peter Bowler

The Thesaurus is a thesaurus, albeit a good one. Bowler’s book kind of reads like a comic strip. You can learn from it if you want to–it’s where I got the subject for today’s post–or you can just laugh.

And maybe there’s not actually a best word ever, but I want to keep going and try anyway.

Josh

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Pauline June 28, 2011, 9:36 am

    I first learned this word in 1992 in a Cultural Anthropology class and I have loved it ever since, though I don’t get much opportunity to use it. It can be handy in a somewhat public setting when you want to draw your companion’s eye to a certain passerby . . .