Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"What's this word mean?"

As a child, if you asked your mom or dad, or teacher, "What's this word mean?", they likely said, "Go look it up in the dictionary."

And no kid who asked that question EVER wanted to take the time to do that. Otherwise, they wouldn't have asked in the first place, right? They were impatient to know, so they could get their homework done. Or understand the sentence they just read in whatever they were reading. Probably a good book. Maybe one by Madeleine L'Engle. She never wrote "down" to kids.

I'm pretty sure Ms L'Engle never used the "most looked up word" on Dictionary.com this year. The "most looked up word" on Dictionary.com was actually not even in my Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Are you ready for it?

It is cal·li·pyg·i·an (kāl'ə-pĭj'ē-ən), an adjective meaning having beautifully proportioned buttocks.
Seriously, I'm not kidding. What teacher would put this word on the weekly vocabulary list? And how does a person use this word in a sentence?
I wonder if that guy is attracted to callipygian women?
I joined a gym so I could become a callipygian woman.

It sounds like a nationality, doesn't it? Or a body of water

[From Greek kallipugos : kalli-, beautiful (from kallos, beauty) + pugē, buttocks.]
Word Origin & Historycallipygian
"of, pertaining to, or having beautiful buttocks," 1800, from Gk. kallipygos, name of a statue of Aphrodite, from kalli-, combining form of kallos "beauty" + pyge "rump, buttocks." Sir Thomas Browne (1646) refers to "Callipygæ and women largely composed behinde."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper

Just out of curiosity, I used the reverse dictionary and looked up every other body part I could think of to see if there was a special term for a "well shaped _______". There is not. Only the buttocks have the special privilege to have a word for their perfection.