apophenia (n)

the tendency to perceive meaningful connections between unrelated things.

Originally invented to describe schizophrenic thought patterns, but can also be applied to conspiracy theorists, QAnon, etc.

It is related to pareidolia, a type of apophenia involving the perception of images or sounds in random stimuli.

A sad word, I think, in that it reflects our human desire to find order, meaning, and structure to the universe that won’t, or can’t allow it. We are all apoheniacs, imposing our orders, meanings, and structures on the world.

desuetude (n)

The state of disuse.

Pronounced DES-wee-tude.

A very fancy way of saying “unused.”

Etymology: early 17th century (in the sense ‘cessation’): from French, from Latin desuetudo, from desuet- ‘made unaccustomed’, from the verb desuescere, from de- (expressing reversal) + suescere ‘be accustomed’.

A word I sort of like, because it has mnemonic de-“use”tude scrambled into the middle, and that makes the word, which itself is (fittingly!) a relatively unused word, sort of look like it has fallen into disrepair; as if at some point its letters got jumbled from their proper order after years of neglect.

hypolipsos (adj)

meaning “rear end rubbed smooth,” or more simply, “buttless;” deriving from the myth of Theseus, who got his butt stuck to a cursed rock in hell, and had to leave some of it behind in the process of getting unstuck.

Origin: Greek mythology.

Anyonym: thicc.

In a sentence: Kamala Harris spanked Pence so thoroughly in Wednesday’s debate, they call him Hypolipence now.

In another sentence: “Kamala Harris spanked Pence Hypolipsos into a new understanding of what it means to ‘turn the other cheek.'”

adhocracy (n)

A system of government formed ad hoc, as needed, impromptu, to suite the needs of a given moment or problem. Generally unelected, adhocracies get the job done, but only when there is a job that needs doing, and generally because no one else wants to do it. A more palatable flavor of anarchy.

adj. adhocratic;

n. adhocrat

Also: how I lead my life, or don’t.

scripturient (adj)

scripturient—possessed by a violent desire to write, incessantly.

(Not a disease I have.)

Related: graphomania; epeolatry; graphophilia.

In early use especially: that produces an abundance of trivial or inferior writing; characterized by this.

chronophage (n)

a time-eater.

tempus edax rerum

literally “time eater”, from the Greek χρόνος [chronos] “time,” and εφάγον [ephagon] “I ate.”

Also the name of the horrifying grasshopper escapement on the Corpus Clock:

Re-discovered this word in a book review. Internet trolls are chronophages, as are social media platforms:

“In these concern trolls and reply guys, Seymour’s chronophage was literalized. The social industry doesn’t just eat our time with endless stimulus and algorithmic scrolling; it eats our time by creating and promoting people who exist only to be explained to, people to whom the world has been created anew every morning, people for whom every settled sociological, scientific, and political argument of modernity must be rehashed, rewritten, and re-accounted, this time with their participation. These people, with their just-asking questions and vapid open letters, are dullards and bores, pettifoggers and casuists, cowards and dissemblers, time-wasters of the worst sort. But Seymour’s book suggests something worse about us, their Twitter and Facebook interlocutors: That we want to waste our time.”

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.