apposite (adj)

apposite (adj) – apt in the circumstances or in relation to something.

An ironic word, given that it is apt to make your reader think the opposite.


A machicolation (French: mâchicoulis) is a floor opening between the supporting corbels of a battlement, through which stones or other material, such as boiling water or boiling cooking oil, could be dropped on attackers at the base of a defensive wall.

The word derives from the Old French word machecol, mentioned in Medieval Latin as machecollum, probably from Old French machier ‘to crush’, ‘to wound’ and col ‘neck’.  In other words: “neck breaker” or “neck crusher.” Machicolate is only recorded in the 18th century in English, but a verb machicollāre is attested in Anglo-Latin.

Like all things, this can be taken metaphorically or literally.



jamais vu (n)

jamais vu (noun), Fr. — “Often described as the opposite of déjà vu, jamais vu involves a sense of eeriness and the observer’s impression of seeing the situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing that he or she has been in the situation before. Jamais vu is sometimes associated with certain types of aphasia, amnesia, and epilepsy…” and time travel—as Rasheedah Phillips uses the device in Recurrence Plot (2014).

“Jamais vu is most commonly experienced when a person momentarily does not recognise a word or, less commonly, a person or place, that he or she knows. This can be achieved by anyone by repeatedly writing or saying a specific word out loud. After a few seconds one will often, despite knowing that it is a real word, feel as if “there’s no way it is an actual word”. The phenomenon is often grouped with déjà vu and presque vu, or tip of the tongue.”

Maslow’s Hammer (n)

A phrase coined by Abraham Maslow in his 1966 book The Psychology of Science where he described the phenomenon:

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.

or, more popularly

“if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”

This useful phrase (read as: tool) has many applications.  But for the purposes of graduate school, it relates to the remarkable ability of blinkered graduate students to inflict themselves on any given conversation, in order to demonstrate how the topic at hand indeed relates to his/her own dissertation.  Even if it doesn’t.  And it usually doesn’t.

Related: the propensity of early-stage graduate students to inflict a particular lens (i.e., whatever new theory, or old one they happen to be most familiar with) on any, and every situation, effectively smashing any productive conversation.

Thankfully, this is usually just a phase.

Related: Alexander Pope’s Essay on Criticism:

A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.

pazienza (n)

noun. Italian.
The capacity to endure with serenity.

Which, of course, does not mean you are not internally screaming; however it is critical that you may not be outwardly screaming, or appear to be internally screaming.

ety. Latin: patientia; ultimately, Greek: pathos “suffering.”

Related: grazie.


“I accepted the revisions from my adviser with great pazienza.”


footnote (n)

footnote (noun):

1. an ancillary piece of information printed at the bottom of a page;

2. the place where writers tell you what they really think;

3. a place writers hide easter eggs, and flaunt all the research they read that wasn’t, in the end, really necessary to the article.



kodawari (n)

kodawari (拘り) or (こだわり): obsessionfixationhangupdeterminationfastidiousnesspickiness about (trait, style, etc.)

Think: Ahab, White Whales, monomania, dissertations.

It’s also related to a passion for ramen (sidenote: this is where I get my ramen), which is not unrelated.  Apparently ramen only became a major American culinary obsession in the mid-1990s, and took off when Momofuku opened in 2004.  Before that time, Ramen was considered, well, cheap instant rations necessary to the survival of scrappy starving college students. Add a healthy dose of cultural kodawari to the ol’ Cup of Noodles and what you have is a 5000% increase on the value of a bowl of ramen over the course of two decades.

This, I think, is a metaphor for what we humanities grad students strive to achieve through our kodawari with our dissertation work: the alchemical transmutation of some boring overlooked research materials into, well, something profoundly interesting and relevant.  Through our archival noodling, we quest for the golden noodle.

Another related metaphor for graduate school:


lucubrate (v)

From Latin lūcubrātus, perfect passive participle of lūcubrō (work by candlelight), from lūx (light).

“To burn the midnight oil.”

“To make a deadline.”

lucubrate (third-person singular simple present lucubratespresent participle lucubratingsimple past and past participle lucubrated)

  1. (rare) To work diligently by artificial light; to study at night.
    • 1991 December, K. Boo, “The organization woman”, in The Washington Monthly, volume 23, issue 12, page 44:
      Instead, as Oklahoma’s tenure committee lucubrated over Hill’s future, []
  2. To work or write like a scholar.
    • 1846Nathaniel Chipman, in Daniel ChipmanThe Life of Hon. Nathaniel Chipman, LL.D.p. 261,
      [] I shall not hesitate to repeat some of my former thoughts, when lucubrating upon the same subject.


1.  A piece of work that is supplementary to or a byproduct of a larger work.

2. Something that is an accessory to a main work or subject; embellishment.

3. Work undertaken in addition to one’s principal work.”
Read as: deadly distraction. Life-threatening. MENACE.
Read also as: side-job, paramour, passion project, sidechick.
(also might get you a paying job in the real world)
Plural (Parerga) are all the exciting and fascinating things, like so many sirens, beckon you off the course of your dissertation, singing so sweetly their meretricious songs, dynamically tuned to your tastes and weaknesses, urging you to smash your dissertation-ship on their rocks.
par (variant of para- as in “parallel”; = to the side) + ergos (“work”). 1595-1605.


A notably difficult to pronounce word.