(Click here for bottom)

Carbon Monoxide.

After a mob burned his chapel and sacked his house in Birmingham, scattering his papers, his library, and his scientific instruments in the street, Joseph Priestley moved to London. His three sons encountered social difficulties in England, however, and emigrated to Pennsylvania, where they established themselves as farmers on the Susquehanna. He eventually followed them there, leaving behind a married daughter. For a while before he left, Southey and some even more eminent English poet (whose name I really shouldn't forget) played with the idea of going along with him.

Priestley settled in a village near Philadelphia that was originally envisioned as a haven for similar exiles. It was close to his sons' farms, and he helped them out in the fields a couple of hours a day, living in a village near Philadelphia. He continued his preaching, and formed a Unitarian congregation where Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were both occasional members, and he wrote his vast History of the Christian Church. He also continued his scientific research, and discovered carbon monoxide.

[Phone icon]

Central (Telephone) Office. Really the same as the local office (LO).

Mark Twain's Tale of a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, first published in 1889, tells the story of an accidental time traveler from New England in 1879 to the England of King Arthur (sixth century). There the Connecticut Yankee (Hank Morgan) becomes known as ``Sir Boss,'' and introduces various improvements (eventually suppressed by religious baddies). The following is from chapter 41, after he has married Sandy (whom we mention also at this V2 entry).

    In my dreams, along at first, I still wandered thirteen centuries away, and my unsatisfied spirit went calling and harking all up and down the unreplying vacancies of a vanished world. Many a time Sandy heard that imploring cry come from my lips in my sleep. With a grand magnanimity she saddled that cry of mine upon our child, conceiving it to be the name of some lost darling of mine. It touched me to tears, and it also nearly knocked me off my feet, too, when she smiled up in my face for an earned reward, and played her quaint and pretty surprise upon me:

    ``The name of one who was dear to thee is here preserved, here made holy, and the music of it will abide alway in our ears. Now thou'lt kiss me, as knowing the name I have given the child.''

    But I didn't know it, all the same. I hadn't an idea in the world; but it would have been cruel to confess it and spoil her pretty game; so I never let on, but said:

    ``Yes, I know, sweetheart--how dear and good it is of you, too! But I want to hear these lips of yours, which are also mine, utter it first--then its music will be perfect.''

    Pleased to the marrow, she murmured:


    I didn't laugh--I am always thankful for that--but the strain ruptured every cartilage in me, and for weeks afterward I could hear my bones clack when I walked. She never found out her mistake. The first time she heard that form of salute used at the telephone she was surprised, and not pleased; but I told her I had given order for it: that henceforth and forever the telephone must always be invoked with that reverent formality, in perpetual honor and remembrance of my lost friend and her small namesake. This was not true. But it answered.


The Classical Outlook. Not a Weltanschauung but a quarterly, (ISSN 0196-2086; LC no. PA 2001 .C5693) published out of Oxford (Ohio, not England) by the American Classical League (ACL). At least as of 2002, it is the most widely circulated Classics journal in North America.

CO continues the earlier journal Latin Notes (LC no. PA 2063 .L34 ; before the days of ISSN's -- why don't they define these things retroactively for recordkeeping purposes?). [The supplement is LC no. PA 2063 .L348, as I'm sure you're relieved to learn.]

CO even continues the volume numbering of Latin Notes, picking up at vol. 14 in fall 1936. When the latter was discontinued, it published eight numbers a year. CO was originally a monthly, which also meant eight issues a year. In 1978, however, it became a quarterly and alternated with the new quarterly ACL newsletter (ISSN 0196-2086). [I may have the ISSN's switched.], which has since been a semiannual and a triannual. You can learn so much interesting stuff from on-line library card catalogs.

The article ``Latina Resurgens: Classical Language Enrollments in American Schools and Colleges,'' appears in CO vol. 74 #4 (Summer 1997), pp. 125-30.

CO, C.O.
Class Of. As in ``C.O. '03'' for the class of 1903 or 2003.

Cleveland Orchestra.

CObalt. Atomic number 27. In the first period of transition metals.

Learn more at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

(Domain name code for) Colombia. Also for Colorado, in the second-to-last position: <foobar.co.us>. Also for commercial sites (.co).

Terrorist groups in Colombia kidnap fewer than 3000 people each year, using the ransom to finance their insurrection. Back in the 1970's, Argentine guerrillas used a similar strategy but concentrated on rich pay-offs for foreign businessmen. The resulting war, when joined by the military dictatorship that deposed Isabelita Perón, was called la guerra sucia. That's usually translated `the dirty war,' though perhaps `the filthy war' might better convey the moral tenor of sucia. One revenue stream available to various warring parties in Colombia today (see AUC) is cocaine -- growing, refining, and trafficking.

All wars must be financed. Wars against the Congolese government based in Kinshasa [the old Zaire, (.zr)] are funded by stealing from diamond prospectors. (Diamond is a common African mineral that is kept in short supply by the deBeers cartel to maintain a profitable world price. During a diamond market crash early in the twentieth century, deBeers managed to buy up most of the south African mines. Since then, discoveries in Russia, Australia, and elsewhere have been handled with a certain amount of judicious bribing or market-sharing arrangements. Lately, however, multiple wars in southern Africa have been making it increasingly difficult to stifle supply. In 1999, deBeers hit on a brilliant strategy to deal with this situation: they would become the supplier of ``clean diamonds'' -- diamonds not being used to fund some war.)

The IRA's activities are funded by charitable contributions. During the cold war, many armies were secretly and sometimes not so secretly funded by the major contending powers and their better-off clients. Usually this was in the form of government grants (not so called) of money, arms, training, etc., or loans (to be repaid in something other than money). Communist regimes liked to shake down their subjects for voluntary contributions to fraternal liberation movements. Subsequent developments demonstrate that there is no shortage of funding sources -- though of course, who pays the piper calls the tune. Regional interests (did you know that Syria can actually grow enough food to feed its surviving population?) and rich private investors have picked up the slack.

COlorado. USPS abbreviation.

The Villanova University Law School provides some links to state government web sites for Colorado. USACityLink.com has a page mostly of Colorado city and county links.

Combined Operations. British term for amphibious military operations, or military operations requiring a high degree of coordination between land and sea operations. There's an extensive Combined Ops WWII memorial site on line.

Commanding Officer.

(Domain name code for) COmmercial site: e.g <foobarre.co.uk>. Also for Colombia and Colorado (.co).


Correctional Officer. Standard and inaccurate name for a prison guard.

Carbon Dioxide.

CO2 laser
Powerful laser in the IR, has lines around 10µm, or 0.124 eV (alright, alright: the dominant 10P(20) line is at 10.6µm and 9P(20) is at 9.54µm).

COenzyme A.

Canadian Organisation for the Advancement of Computers in Health or Choosing Outcomes and Accommodations for CHildren. An anonymous, randomly self-selected IM correspondent from the Detroit area, self-described as an ``executive coach,'' guessed these in a few seconds when asked if she knew what the origin of ``coach'' was.

From the Hungarian noun köcse. (The word for the vehicle, invented and first manufactured in the town of Kocs.) In English, the noun was verbed, to coach meaning to drive [the horses of] a coach, then nouned back into the person who drives the horses, then extended to describe the person who drives another kind of animal.

In some Spanish-speaking countries, such as Argentina, car is coche (masc.). In others, like Mexico (.mx), car is carro, although coche may be used as a `marked' synonym (like ``motor car'' in English). ``Carro'' sounds weird to Argentines, to whom carro only means `cart,' of the unpowered variety. It might be an Anglicism (Sp. carro < Eng. car), like the Chilean use of gallo (`rooster') to mean `guy' (pronunciation of the Spanish word would look like guy-oh in English eye dialect).

The vehicles making up a passenger train are variously called cars, coaches, or carriages, depending on what decade and region one has boarded. In strict Leftpondian usage a ``coach'' is the ordinary kind of passenger car, approximately equivalent to Rightpondian ``second-class carriage.'' Second class in Britain was formerly called third class and is now called standard class.

In earlier Leftpondian usage, trains were also called ``the cars.'' Although it was always common to say ``on the train,'' for many years the phrase ``on the cars'' was used as well. The most recent instance of this usage that I can find is in a poem Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) published in his Smoke and Steel (Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1920). In other words, every occurrence I can find is out of copyright! I'm not going to go overboard on this and quote two entire books of Artemus Ward between here and the COAI entry, but maybe I will include Sandburg's poem:

Aprons of Steel
Many things I might have said today.
And I kept my mouth shut.
[SBF glossarist comments: not me!]
So many times I was asked
To come and say the same things
Everybody was saying, no end
To the yes-yes, yes-yes,
    me-too, me-too.
[Gertrude Stein noticed that between WWI and WWII, American men learned to converse. See the have-got-to entry.]

The aprons of silence covered me.
A wire and hatch held my tongue.
I spit nails into an abyss and listened.
I shut off the gabble of Jones, Johnson, Smith,
All whose names take pages in the city directory.

I fixed up a padded cell and lugged it around.
I locked myself in and nobody knew it.
Only the keeper and the kept in the hoosegow
Knew it--on the streets, in the postoffice,
On the cars, into the railroad station
Where the caller was calling, "All a-board,
All a-board for .. Blaa-blaa .. Blaa-blaa,
Blaa-blaa .. and all points northwest .. all a-board."
[Cf. North by Northwest.]
Here I took along my own hoosegow
And did business with my own thoughts.
Do you see? It must be the aprons of silence.

Council Of Australian Governments. It's good to stick together.

Cellular Operators Association of India.

Clowns Of America International.

Customer-Owned and -Maintained Equipment.

Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment.

Computer Operations, Audit, and Security Technology. A laboratory for computer security research in the Computer Sciences Department at Purdue University. Focuses on ``real-world needs and limitations, with a special focus on security for legacy computing systems.''

Coast Highway
The highway along the Pacific coast that is not the P.C.H., whatever that is.

coat hanger
Emergency back-scratcher.

COAXial. A coax transmission line consists of two parallel cylindrical conductors with a common center line. This configuration is chosen to minimize radiative losses and interference. This ``coax'' is pronounced in two syllables, like the letters in the word it abbreviates, but stress is on the first syllable: ``CO aks.''

See also balun.

Persuade. One syllable, many words.

This is either the past tense of the ordinary verb coax, or else it means to have done something with coaxial cable. Yih! Maybe it means to have axed in a coordinated manner! In a transferred sense, it might mean to have agreed to fire an employee. Responsible responsibility is diffused responsibility. At least safe responsibility is.

Central Obrera Boliviana. `Bolivian Worker Central.'

Chip On Board. That is, directly--not chip on package on board.

Close Of Business. End of the (local) Business Day. An outmoded concept based on the industry-home dichotomy of the second wave, and rooted in the natural cycles that governed the first wave.

College Of Business.

Male swan.

College Of Business Administration. Yesterday as I was walking past the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame, a deliverywoman asked me if I knew where ``Coba 203'' was. ``Coba'' was what people called the building until last year (2000), when Network Appliance executives Tom and Kathy Mendoza's humble munificence changed its name. ``Coba'' is still what they call it. I don't know what it costs to buy a plaque on a park bench, but if you want to confuse delivery people, you have to shell out. The individual wings of the building all have their own names too. Let's face it, the Romance languages building will be named after some priest, but it looks bad if the Business School doesn't have Big Alumnus Gift written all over it.

Update 2004: it's now ``MCoB'' or ``MCB.'' Here's a webpage all about vision and ``The Mendoza's Contribution.'' Don't think of all the mispunctuations as errors. Think of them as streamlined, impacting business communications. Leverage the synergy!

COsmic Background Explorer.

Cobo Arena
I don't have much to say about Cobo Arena except that it's not Cobo Hall, though it's nearby and opened in the same year (1960).

Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center
Described on its website as ``Michigan's World Class meeting and convention facility.'' Throughout its website, the facility is referred to as COBO Center, and never (that I could detect) as Cobo Center. The Cobo Center opened in 1960; it was named after Albert E. Cobo, who was mayor of Detroit from 1950 to 1957.

Cobo Hall
Widely used and comfortably wieldy name for what is officially the Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center.

COmmon Business Oriented Language. Hackers and aspiring nerds despise this revolting language, but historically, it has been the most-used ``higher-level'' programming language. I'm tempted to point out that the great power of this language arises from the fact that accountants can learn COBOL more quickly and more willingly than C++ hackers can learn accounting. In other words, COBOL is a language for the kind of people who would rather fill in IRS forms than crossword puzzles. There, I pointed it out. Couldn't help myself. Sounds right, too.

Because COBOL has been used for so long on IBM mainframes with a variety of data structure options, this code may not be very portable. The solution has generally been to run the legacy COBOL code on back-end mainframes, and have these accessed via web-based interfaces (running on whatever). Some people insist that this is an entirely flexible approach, and it might be if the original author of the COBOL programs was a visionary.

A Computerworld survey of 352 readers (self-selected respondents, I assume), published in 2006, included the following item: ``What programming languages do you use in your organization? Choose all that apply.'' Here are the listed results:

67%  Visual Basic
62%  Cobol
61%  Java
55%  JavaScript
47%  VB.Net
47%  C++
30%  Perl
26%  C
23%  C#
15%  ColdFusion
13%  PHP
 7%  Fortran
 5%  PL/1
 5%  Python
 4%  Pascal
 2%  Ada
Of those respondents who said their organizations used COBOL, 55% said that at least half of their organizations' internally-developed business application software was written in COBOL, and 58% reported that it was still being used to develop new business applications.

These numbers suggest that COBOL is in good health and has a strong future, but most people agree that it is simply in a very slow decline. There are few programmers who can write new COBOL code. Many of those old guys probably died of heart attacks during the Y2K fix-it orgy. The old code is going away very slowly as conversion becomes necessary, and like the fixing of Y2K bugs, it is being hindered by the decreasing numbers of people left who still read the old code. Managers typically claim that it doesn't make economic sense to rewrite the code yet. At United Airlines, where my friend Rob used to work, this was called ``mining the gold'' or something. (I.e., amortizing the investment.)

Like FORTRAN's, COBOL's original language definition was written in a hurry. The first COBOL compiler was released in 1960.

Here's a perfectly characteristic fact about COBOL: it has a long list of reserved words. By my count of appendix A in Gary D. Brown's Advanced ANS COBOL with Structured Programming (Wiley, 1977), the number was 426, ``although'' as Brown warned (p. 35), ``individual compilers differ slightly from this list. New reserved words are constantly added as COBOL is expanded, and a program that compiles properly today may not compile properly tomorrow.'' He went on:

Only 85 reserved words contain the hyphen, and so it is common to use a hyphen in names to reduce the chance of inadvertently selecting a reserved word. However, more of the newer reserved words contain hyphens. No reserved word currently begins with a numeric character or the letter X [or Y, for that matter]. Hence 9TOTAL-AMOUNT, XTOTAL-AMOUNT, and TOTAL--AMOUNT would be relatively safe in never being reserved words, but this technique results in ugly names. Perhaps the best technique is to select meaningful names and then, if in doubt, check the name in Appendix A.

These wonderful variable names had to fit between columns 12 and 72 of the punch card, apparently, although statements could be continued naturally from card to card, if the card-break was part of the spacing. (A hyphen was used in column 7 (with a quote beyond column 11) to continue a string literal (``alphanumeric literal''). The minus sign was the same character as the hyphen; ambiguity was avoided by requiring spaces around the sign when it functioned as the binary operator. (Of course, better programming style employed the SUBTRACT reserve word.) Unary minus was unambiguous because variables could not begin with a hyphen (``procedure names'' and ``data names'' could consist entirely of decimal digits).

There's an FAQ for COBOL.

Michael Neumann's extensive list of sample short programs in different programming languages heroically includes one COBOL program. The obvious question that arises when anyone writes a COBOL program, even for mere ``demonstration'' purposes, is whether the act is morally excusable. The question is not addressed in any of the current cybermorality links at this page by the Michael Neumann who professes philosophy at Trent University.

Hard as it may be to believe, it is actually possible to calumniate COBOL: cf. SNOBOL.

An ESPRIT project to develop techniques and tools for integrated design of hardware and software. Although the ``prime contractor'' is German (here), this is a European project and there is a collaboration with a Spanish institution (UPM). In Spanish, cobra is `charge[s],' in the sense of `bill for payment.' I want to suggest that these people use dictionaries before they pick their sexy acronyms, but I'm beginning to think this kind of naming is intentional: cf. COST and the next entry.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. The ``reconciliation'' is between the House of Representatives, where budget bills must first be introduced, and the Senate. The reconciliation is worked out in closed-door meetings between negotiators chosen by the Senate majority leader (I think; could it be the President pro tem?) and the Speaker of the House. Major committee chairmen are typically chosen for negotiation, and the main sponsor of a bill is left to cry at the carnage. Bismarck said that no one should see the process by which sausages or laws are made. Well, I can stomach sausage. Reconciliation negotiations can get especially interesting when the two branches of Congress are controlled by different parties, but even in other sessions the tempers of the two chambers usually differ enough to generate some heat.

The final agreements worked out in budget reconciliation are almost always late, and Congress is about to adjourn, and the final write-up, many inches thick, is distributed hot off the photocopier about an hour before the vote. This is where the pork goes in. Once, around 1990 I think it was, the Secretary of Defense (DoD) submitted a budget request that had continuations of old pork slashed. It was the only year in recent memory that Congressional appropriations exceeded the budget request. From the numbers involved, one may reasonably estimate that about 20-25% of the Defense budget is pork. All the pork reappeared in COBRA, and the executive branch hasn't tried that stunt again. Reagan came into (and even continued in!) office railing against ``waste, fraud and abuse'' and vowing to balance the budget by eliminating these. He ran massive budget deficits by raising defense spending without decreasing social spending. Towards the end of his term, it was becoming popular among commentators to argue that there really was very little honest-to-God WF+A -- most of the budget is transfer payments (not counting off-budget self-funded insurance systems like social security) salaries and ... procurement. Right.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. For lack of imagination, ``COBRA'' is the name given to a set of health care protections hammered out in conference in 1985. If you have medical or dental insurance coverage as an employment benefit, then when you leave your employment, COBRA requires that you be offered the opportunity to continue that coverage for up to 18 months after leaving that employment, so long as your previous employer continues to offer its current employees coverage and so long as you don't begin to be covered by a new employer's group plan (unless the new employer has a thing about ``pre-existing conditions''). Don't miss a payment, or you're out. COBRA coverage also ends when Medicare eligibility begins.

You'll be formally notified after the termination date of your insurance under the terms of your prior employment. (The notification comes maybe a month, sometimes two months, after the formal termination date of the health insurance.) If you take advantage of the offer, you have to pay all the monthly premiums since the termination, and your insurance coverage holds without hiatus. It's a kind of grace period, but the initial coverage premium can be a kind of ``sticker shock.''

HERE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO NOTE: You might assume that, since your old employer has a group of regularly employed and therefore generally healthy people in its ``group,'' that it is able to get a good insurance rate. Yes but: You may not get the benefits of that rate, because you are not part of that group. The law requires you to be offered the same kind of insurance, but it does not require that your premium equal the old premium (paid by you and by your employer on your behalf). Call around. If you're a young non-smoker in good health you can get a better deal.

There's a lot I've left out, especially about disability issues and dependent coverage.

This part of COBRA 1985 became 29 U.S.C. §§ 1161-1168.

Central Office (CO) Connection.

Chamber Of Commerce.

Contaminant[s] Of Concern. Cf. COPC.

Reminds me of the British slang expression ``to cock up'' [approx. equiv. Amer. ``to screw up'']. I suppose it might be ``to caulk up'' -- the vowels in some common pronunciations of these two words tend to interchange between British and North American dialects. The standard illustration is caught and cot.

cock-a-doodle doo
Onomatopoeia of a rooster's crow. In German I've seen kikeriki (in Schlarrafenland), very similar to the Spanish cucurucú. My Serbian friend Vladimir taught me kokoda (stress accent on first syllable and last syllable extended).

On a bus tour of Jerusalem, I met Eliza Doolittle, speaking in her own voice. I said: ``you're from London.'' She asked ``'ow'd you naow?''

Cocktail Party Effect
This is so much fun to say, that the acronym is not used. It's the ability of animals, particularly party animals, to be selectively attentive to one sound source amid many interfering sounds. Early research: E. C. Cherry, ``Some experiments on the reception of speech, with one and with two ears,'' Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol. 25(#5), pp. 975-979 (Sept. 1953). It's hard to do this with a hearing aid.

See also A. S. Bregman: Auditory Scene Analysis: The Perceptual Organization of Sound, (Cambridge and London: MIT Pr., 1990).

Word-COunt and COncordance generator for Atlas.

A tree of the Central American genus Dalbergia, or its wood. The wood is hard and dense, and has a yellow or reddish yellow color that darkens to a yellowish brown on drying. You may have noticed that many of the prized woods, with names common enough to be regarded as common nouns by all three major Scrabble dictionaries, are hard red woods that grow in the tropics. This is more than just a trend. Tropical woods are critical to the luthier; researchers have sought alternatives, but for some parts of a guitar, there are no good ones. (And for the benefit of those who are combing this glossary as a form of Scrabble cross-training: the plural form is cocobolos; cocobola and cocobolas are also accepted.)

Customer-Owned Coin-Operated Telephone.

Consultation On Church Union. Some people think that's CUCU.

  1. Cash On Delivery.
  2. Charge On Delivery. [Mail sent with more than just postage due.]
  3. Collect On Delivery. [Terms for freight.]

Chemical Oxygen Demand.

Concise Oxford Dictionary.

Connection-Oriented Data.

{ Craze | Crack } Opening Displacement.

Children Of Deaf Adults. Often implicitly -- Hearing Children of ....

COmmittee on DATA for Science and Technology.

NIST makes available on line ``The 1986 CODATA Recommended Values of the Fundamental Physical Constants,'' an article by E. Richard Cohen and Barry N. Taylor in Journal of Research of the National Bureau of Standards, vol. 92, pp. 85-95 (1987).

Codec, CODEC
Coder-decoder. An ADC and DAC combined for PCM or other modulation scheme.

COngressional DELegation.

code share
A code-share is one passenger airline that code-shares with another carrier, so that the flights of one are code-shared with the other: listed as part of the other carrier's schedule or system.

Within the US, the most common code-sharing is asymmetric: a number of independent regional carriers will code-share with a better-known national carrier. The various regional carriers, typically flying twin-engine propeller planes like the Saab 340B (SF-340B) or commuter jets, will code-share with Foobar Airlines, tag their fleets and personnel as ``Foobar Express,'' and provide short-haul service between regional airports and national airline's hubs.

Internationally, and particularly between North America and Europe, code-sharing arrangements are common between American carriers and European ones.

Coded Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplex[ing] (OFDM).

(U.S. Army) Corps Of Engineers.

Council Of Europe. Dozens of members. A steady second-tier manufacturer of words.

Cost and Operational Effectiveness Analysis.

coed, co-ed
CO-EDucational. A school (most often a college or university) in which men (or boys) and women (or girls) are taught together. This was an innovative idea once. Since most of the institutions which instituted this ``co-education'' had been all-male, the noun co-ed then referred to a female student.

At the beginning of 2005, a new magazine was launched with the title Co-Ed, self-evidently aimed at male college students. The February 2006 issue had advice on how to score during spring break. It included useful insights, such as the observation that one reason a woman may turn you down is that she can't sleep with everyone. Damn! Those girls must have been indoctrinated at the YWLS.

coefficient of concentration
Gini coefficient.

Coefficient Of Friction. The ratio of friction force to normal force. Two kinds of coefficient of friction occur commonly in the analysis of rigid mechanical systems: sliding and rolling. ``Normal'' above means perpendicular to the sliding surface or perpendicular to the interface between roller and rolling surface. On a level surface, ``normal'' is vertical and ``normal force'' is weight (minus lift, if any). The friction force exerted is tangential, and opposes the force exerted externally to effect sliding or rolling.

The coefficient of sliding friction is different for two surfaces moving or not moving relative to one another, and these are distinguished as dynamic and static coefficients of friction, respectively. The dynamic coefficient is smaller, so it takes a little more push to get things moving. The friction analyzed in rolling motion does not involve any sliding of surfaces past each other -- rolling friction refers to non-slipping motion of a wheel or roller. Standard formulas do not distinguish dynamic and static COF of rolling motion: they normally refer to dynamic friction and are equally accurate for static friction for small normal forces. When normal forces are large, deformation of surfaces is nonlinear and eventually inelastic, and friction is no longer described by a simple coefficient. (The possibly nonlinearly deformed surfaces referred to are the load-bearing surface and the roller or the sliding surface of the load.)

Drag in a fluid is also a form of friction. At low velocities, it varies quadratically with the velocity of motion through the fluid. I'll get a coefficient-of-drag entry in here eventually.

Change Of Frame Alignment.

Container On Flat Car. Looks like TOFC (trailer) minus the wheels and stuff.

Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing.

C of E
Church OF England. Huh. It's unusual to use the word ``church'' in reference to Islam. Oh wait -- they mean ``the established church.'' The one no one attends.

Come to think of it, back in the 1970's NOW distributed a pamphlet called ``Revolution: Tomorrow Is NOW.'' That pamphlet proposed (among many other things) a public veil-burning to ``protest the second class status of women in all churches.'' Well, there you go.

Common Object File Format. Used for the output from the link editor and the assembler. The Chip Directory hosted by has Sun's description of the format. Apparently of somewhat limited interest at this point, given that it was only used on SunOS 4.0x and earlier operating systems for 386i machines.

coffee break
I was amused to receive an advertisement listing ``Desayunos, Coffee Break, Almuerzos, Cenas, Alojamiento.'' The native Spanish terms have the meanings `breakfasts, lunches, dinners, lodging.' (I don't think that use of the singular for the borrowed term reflects any very deep reflection.)

Consortium On Financing Higher Education. A group of private, selective institutions.

Calculated Optimum Fixed Tuning.

Conduct-Of-Fire Trainer. Fire as in ``when you see the whites of their eyes.'' Concentrate your fire. Aim for the biggest, most vulnerable, and most immediately dangerous targets. (True, not the same things. Ask your COFT.)

Council Of Governments.

Covenant Of the Goddess. Visit, lest they put a spell on you! In fact, don't even joke about it! Don't even think about joking about it! Don't even...

A neopagan religious group.

COGnitive Abilities Test. A standardized exam first published in 1971. David Lohman, a psychology professor at the University of Iowa, helped revise it in 2002. This test attempts to measure ability independently of curriculum -- it's an ``aptitude'' test. Cf. ``achievement'' tests like ited. The College Board has maintained its dominant position in testing students for US schools by carefully gauging the way the achievement-aptitude wind was blowing, and trimming its sails accordingly. SAT The achievement/aptitude argument is the most aged and weary debate in testing. I'm going to bed.

Council On Governmental Ethics Laws. It's ``a professional organization for government agencies, organizations, and individuals with responsibilities or interests in governmental ethics, elections, campaign finance, lobby laws and freedom of information.''

The economic use of heat byproduct (``waste heat''). The simplest example of cogeneration is space heating. Electric generation by various combustion engines typically produces an exhaust gas too cool for economic use for further generation, but warm enough for local distribution for heating. This isn't exactly ``generation,'' and I suspect this was not the first sense of the term. The other standard example is the use of waste heat from a primary process not principally intended for electric power production (a chemical manufacturing process, say) to generate electricity.

Cogeneration doesn't even have an entry in the online OED (as of 2005) and already it's gained a new acceptation. Dictionaries that do have an entry generally qualify the primary process as ``industrial,'' and traditionally it has been thought of as a stationary process. Since the mid-1990's, however, as fuel cells have been regarded as an increasingly credible power source for motor vehicles. Before we discuss that, however, let us take a long look back across the sweep of history, shall we? You wouldn't think I had other things to do, from the leisurely pace of this entry. Let's go back in time (entry to be continued).

Oh, alright: cogeneration in the fuel-cell context means use of waste heat from the fuel cells to chemically crack or otherwise preprocess the loaded fuel into a form usable by the fuel cell.

Church Of God In Christ. An evangelical protestant denomination.

Council On Graduate Medical Education.

COGNate [word]. [A word] having a common etymological root [with another]. In German, linguists use the term verwandt[e Wort], although this literally has the more general meaning of `related [word].' For a related word, see calque.

In this glossary, ``Cognard'' stands for a series of volumes which bear the general title Adhesives and Sealants, edited by Philippe Cognard (Elsevier, 2005). The books in this series have double-colon subtitles, and the second colon reads ``Handbook of Adhesives and Sealants Volume <foon>.'' (I have seen foon values 1 and 2.) This naming is a bit unfortunate, because Handbook of Adhesives and Sealants is the title of an important one-volume on the same subject (A&S) by Edward M. Petrie. Cognard should have named his series the Armful of Adhesives and Sealants. It's projected at eighty or ninety chapters divided among seven or eight volumes, each about 350-500 pages long. In the introduction to the first volume, he estimated reasonably that ``the scientific and technical knowledge [the volumes would contain] may become obsolete after 10 years or so.''

The whole naming thing is confusing, so let me try to reproduce in HTML what the titling looks like on the cover of volume 2:

Adhesives and Sealants

General Knowledge,
Application Techniques,
New Curing Techniques

Handbook of Adhesives and Sealants
Volume 2

Judging from the copyright notice at the beginning of each chapter, it appears that ``Handbook of Adhesives and Sealants'' is the official title of the series. I strongly recommend Petrie's Handbook. (For some thoughts on the differential analysis, see the bonding surface entry.)

cognitive dissonance
A wonderful term invented by Leon Festinger. See, for example, his A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Evanston, Illinois: Row, Peterson, 1957).

What -- you want to know what it means, too? Haven't I done enough? Oh all right.

COördinate GeOmetry. Geographers' acronym.

Council On Governmental Relations. An association of research universities. Here is a surprising statement from the homepage:
Its Washington office is located in the District of Columbia.

Cognitive { Science | Scientist }. Cognitive scientists are the bait-and-switch artists of psychology. They advertise for one study and perform another. It's not illegal because they pay the human subjects, and the only people cheated are those who think one-sided blind testing is enough to guarantee validity.

Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation.

Council On Hemispheric Affairs. Founded in 1975, it's ``a nonprofit, tax-exempt independent research and information organization [that] was established to promote the common interests of the hemisphere, raise the visibility of regional affairs and increase the importance of the inter-American relationship, as well as encourage the formulation of rational and constructive U.S. policies towards Latin America. In 1982, COHA's board of trustees voted to expand its mandate to include monitoring Canadian/Latin American relations.''

CarbOxyHemoglobin (Hb). Hemoglobin with carbon monoxide (CO) instead of oxygen or nothing. CO is about the same size and shape as oxygen (O2), so it can chelate to the heme quite well. Better, in fact, than oxygen itself, with an affinity ratio of 200 or 250.

Carbon monoxide accounts for ``accounts for greater mortality and morbidity than all other poisonings combined.'' The half-life of COHb in the blood is 4-5 hours. The usual treatment includes use of a nonrebreather mask supplying 100% oxygen, which reduces the half-life to about an hour. Subsequent to this, depending on a number of factors, hyperbaric oxygen treatment may be used. This reduces the half-life of COHb to about a half hour, but that appears (a) usually not to be too important, since patients tend to present rather late, when COHb levels are in fact already low, and (b) the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen appear not to arise from reduction of COHb levels. This is not too surprising, because delayed and persistent symptoms are not well or completely explained by COHb.

Typical initial symptoms, acute in the medical sense, are headache, dizziness, and nausea. These effects appear to be explained by hypoxia due to CO binding to Hb. Recovery from the acute symptoms is usually rapid (if it occurs at all), on the scale of a day or two. (Currently, there are no methods for recovering from fatal CO poisoning.) In a large minority of cases, estimated at anywhere from 14% to 40%, there are longer-term neurologic symptoms such as memory and learning impairment and (less often) movement disorders. These may appear immediately, but typically follow an asymptomatic period of a day to as much as three weeks. The incidence and severity of effects (generically called ``delayed effects'' even if they are observed early) tracks loosely with duration of exposure and severity of the acute symptoms, whether the victim went into coma, etc. These symptoms are typically more persistent, lasting over a year in many cases. The mechanisms proposed to explain these neurological symptoms are more varied and more complex than straightforward hypoxia.

Gaseous product of anaerobic heating of coal. A fuel.

Nickname for cocaine, a controlled narcotic substance in the US since early in the twentieth century. Before then, it was a common ingredient in medicines, like the cough remedy that became the soft drink Coca-cola. In arty/intellectual circles, it was explored as a recreational and mind-expanding drug. (For example, Aldous Huxley wrote The Doors of Perception out of his cocaine experience.) Sigmund Freud had great hopes for cocaine as clinical treatment to cure opium addiction, and wrote an effusively enthusiastic piece (Über Coca, I think was the title) on cocaine. He was later disappointed when a good friend failed to be cured of his opium addiction by cocaine.

A soft drink. Coca-cola was originally formulated as a cough and cold remedy by an itinerant salesman from Atlanta, Georgia. The name reflects the component ingredients: extracts from the coca leaf and the kola nut. The creator did not get rich; he eventually sold the formula to someone who knew how to market it.

There's a museum, I think it is, and they sponsor scholarships for high-school seniors.

Setting of Dickens's Hard Times. Modeled on Preston.

Conflict Of Interest. Strictly speaking, this refers to a single agent with conflicting responsibilities or interests. A magistrate who owns stock in a company that appears as a litigant in his court, for example, has a prima facie conflict of interest and should recuse himself. Associated concepts: ``the fox guarding the henhouse'' or ``chicken coop,'' and ``who pays the piper calls the tune.''

Conseil oléicole international (French) or Consejo Oleícola Internacional (Spanish). `International Oleic Council.' Formal English name is International Olive Oil Council (IOOC, q.v.).

Chemical Oxygen-Iodine Laser.

Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral. Something in the Dominican Republic. You're probably wondering just what it is that they orient and investigate. Me too.

COunterINsurgency. It makes ``coin-op'' punny.

coinage metal
The stable elements in the periodic-table column containing gold [namely copper (Cu), silver (Ag), and gold (Au)] are sometimes called ``[the] coinage metals.'' The fact that nickel (Ni), aluminum (Al), and many other metals have been used in coins confuses no one, nor does anyone seem to be particularly worried about whether roentgenium, one period below gold, should be called a coinage metal. (It's rare, but its stablest isotope, 280Rg, has a half-life under 4 seconds, so it might not make a very good long-term investment.) Cf. noble metal.

The occurrence of the same condition in two entities, or the simultaneity of two events. A common alternative sense of coincidence is of a coincidence in the original sense only if arises by chance. In physics, coincidence counters and coincidence tests are used precisely because they are unlikely to occur by chance.

COmmon INterest Seeker, an application developed by KCD that helps users to locate other information workers with similar interests.

Try this page of useful links.

An illegal program of the intelligence-gathering and disruption run by the FBI in the 1960's and early 1970's.

Coconut-husk fiber.

County Option Income Tax. It's an Indiana thing. The state of Indiana gives its counties the option of levying an income tax (within certain bounds) on those who live or work there who are required to pay Indiana state income tax. (I think that there's a single county that opts not to levy it.) The Indiana state personal income tax forms include sections for this. Each filer or surrogate must compute separate COIT components for workplace and principal domicile.

Compassion Over Killing. Founded in 1995. A grassroots organization. Funny how grassroots organizations tend to be headquartered in grassroots sorts of places like Washington, DC.

``COK'ed and loaded'' is not their motto, AFAIK.

COLeridge. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (b. October 21, 1772, d. July 24, 1834) was usually called Coleridge or Col. One would think this might have been a bit ambiguous, since he was the youngest of ten children, but by the time he was nine his father had died and he was sent away to a London charity school for children of the clergy.

Whatever he may have been called as a child, he was never known as Sam. His wife Sara (neé Fricker) called him Samuel, and he eventually got a legal separation from her. [Part of the strain on their marriage was that he'd fallen in love with Sara Hutchinson, who afaik never called him Samuel.]

He seems rather to have liked his initials. He often signed his work ``S.T.C.'' or ``Estese.'' As a scholarship boy at Cambridge starting in 1791, he ran up debts to 150 pounds on wine, women, and opium. To escape his creditors he enlisted in the army in 1793 using the pseudonym ``Silas Tomkyn Comberbach.'' One imagines that during the Napoleonic wars, the standards for new recruits must have been allowed to slide a bit.

S.T.C. is remembered today (remember?) for his poetry. He spent a lot of time with Robert Southey, who even before he died was beginning to be remembered as a truly overrated poet. William Wordsworth and Col collaborated on Lyrical Ballads (1798), a work which kicked off the Romantic movement, unfortunately. In 1817, Col published Biographia Literaria, a book about everything. [I shouldn't neglect to mention that in Hebrew, kol means `all, every.']

Columba. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

Cost Of Living. Beats the alternative.

Carbonated beverage like Coca-Cola or Pepsi-Cola, usually distinguished by a brown caramel color, originally made with Kola nut.

College Of Liberal Arts.

Cost-Of-Living Adjustment. When a COLA is built into a transfer payment, to be determined or triggered automatically by a measure of inflation, the transfer payment is said to be `indexed' (to the cost of living). I think Brazil was the first country to go in for indexing in a big way, in response to very high inflation in the 1970's. There is a consensus among economists in the US that the government measures of inflation are flawed in such a way as to systematically overestimate the inflation rate by 1% per year. (Price surveys take no account of sales or improved product, and make belated and limited adjustments for the mix of products purchased.)

Spanish noun meaning `glue' and also `tail' or `queue.' Also the 3rd pers., sing., pres. conjugation of the verb colar. As a verb, cola means `it glues,' although pega, which also means `hits,' is the more common verb to use in this sense. The verb also means `it strains,' but only in the limited sense that could be expressed more precisely and more awkwardly as `it performs the function of a colander.'' I imagine that the English noun colander is cognate with the Spanish verb colar, but I don't plan to look it up. The drink name piña colada literally means `strained pineapple.'

Sounds like the bite of a loan shark, but it's performed by a surgeon: excision (usually just part) of the colon.

Coleridge 1863
This is how I'm referencing a useful little dictionary of Middle English by Herbert Coleridge, late secretary to the Philological Society at the time the work was published in 1863 (by John Camden Hotten, at Piccadilly in London). If my aim were to increase Internet latencies, I would always refer to it by its full title: A Dictionary of the First, or Oldest Words in the English Language: from the Semi Saxon Period of A.D. 1250 to 1300. Consisting of An Alphabetical Inventory of Every Word Found in the Printed English Literature of the 13TH Century.

It was republished by the Gale Research Company, Book Tower, Detroit, in 1975.

Corrosion Of Lead and Lead-tin Alloys of organ PipeS in Europe. The name of an EU-funded research project and the problem it addresses. Across Europe, organ pipes are corroding from the inside, developing holes that destroy their tones and lead to organ failure. (Sorry, no one can resist that pun.) According to this Jan. 1, 2004, article in Nature (following page here), the problem seems to be caused by acetic acid released by new oak components in the bellows and wind chest. Wood parts have been replaced repeatedly since the instruments were first built in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, but it appears the problem is now exacerbated by central heating, which increases the rate of acid exhaust. The problem is found in church organs from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Portugal, in pipes made with low concentrations of tin (1.5-2%). In the UK, where tin was cheap (the continent's main source of tin was Cornwall), organ pipes were made with higher tin content (up to 20%) and COLLAPSE has rarely been a problem.

collateral damage
The hospital on the second and fifth floors of the ammo dump building.

collating sequence
Collating sequence is essentially the computer equivalent of alphabetical order. When character data is sorted alphabetically, the default in most utilities is to order them in increasing numerical order of their binary encodings. In ASCII, for example, s (ASCII 59) precedes t (ASCII 60) because 59 < 60. The committees that create these character encodings are not intentionally cruel, so collating order for simple alphabetic data that is all upper case or all lower case is always the same as alphabetical order. (This excludes special characters such as vowels with accents, which are generally shunted off to upper reaches of the coding.)

The behavior of the dominant scheme ASCII differs significantly from that of one-time contender EBCDIC, however, when upper and lower case characters both occur, and when there are numbers and special characters (punctuation and other anger characters in cartoon comics balloons). (ASCII and EBCDIC also have somewhat different control character locations, though both place these in the low end of the encoding. However, there isn't much interest in alphabetizing or collating non-printing characters.) In ASCII, the collating scheme is (most) special characters, numbers 0-9 (Okay! Okay! They're ``Arabic numerals,'' O pedantic one), then upper-case characters A-Z, then lower-case characters a-z. In EBCDIC, it goes specials, lower case, then upper case, then numbers. Now you know why upper-case file names precede lower-case file names in Unix ls output.

There was once a character set that had upper and lower case interleaved, so the collating sequence was AaBbCc, etc. This is pretty weird, unless you happen to want a sort to order items alphabetically in the normal sense of the word.

An advantage of big-endian date formats like yy.mm.dd is that alphabetizing -- i.e., using ordinary collation order -- is equivalent to ordering chronologically. Of course, this is true for two-digit year representations ``yy'' only if the range of dates does not include the turn of a century. Hence the Y2K bug. Within a millennium, ``yyy'' would suffice, but computers weren't around in 1900, so the solution to the Y2K bug in many cases consisted largely of converting yy notation to yyyy notation. You're probably thinking that this is bleeding obvious, and I shouldn't waste your time. But let me tell you, I remember actual people -- not just corporate and small-time spammers and con artists -- who went around trying to sow profitable panic about this.

[column] ``JAGSort is a web-based application that alphabetically sorts Ancient Greek words in their proper order. Text can be entered in the BetaCode or GreekKeys standard, and the output is provided in alphabetical order or in original order assigned with an alphabetical ordinal. This application is suited for sorting indices and providing databases comprising Greek text with an alphabetical sort field.

(JAGSort is built upon the abstraction of ancient Greek built into the Java and Ancient Greek API package. As further translators are built for the JAG package, additional encoding schemes, in particular Unicode, will be supported. The underlying code is in Java, but for performance purposes, this resource uses the CGI method and therefore runs on the server through a shell script.)''

In Spanish, ch, ll, and rr were traditionally treated like individual letters of the alphabet immediately following c, l, and r, respectively. Thus, for example, calle was alphabetized after calzar. Acceding to pressure from ``Europe,'' the Academia de la Lengua changed the rule, so alphabetization is now by character rather than phoneme.

Gary alleged today that this glossary is like an enormous stream of consciousness. What poppycock! How could a stream of consciousness flow in alphabetical order? That would be a joke, like Stephen Wright's comment. (``I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.'') Oh yeah, you might want to take a quick look at the KWIC entry.

At Martin's (``count on us for service and savings'') the other day, I saw an aisle that had cereal, cookies, and crackers. What a concept -- alphabetical product shelving! Shoes near shinola! Peanuts near peas! This'll work, sure.

I'm sure I mention this elsewhere, but in Spanish both ñ and the letter pairs ch, ll, and rr are traditionally treated as the equivalent of ordinary single letters, so the alphabet includes the sequence ``... k, l, ll, m, n, ñ, o, p, ....'' At the urging of the EU, the Real Academia de la lengua española has condoned the alternative of alphabetizing by single letter (e.g., aro, arroz, artista; instead of aro, artista, arroz). This is the thanks Spain gets, after giving Europe and the world the gift of the cedilla. It's just shameful.

The traditional Spanish collation scheme is also used in outline-type lists. There's an example in Mario Ferreccio Podestá's El Diccionario Academico de Americanismos. (It's not really a dictionary, only -- as the subtitle explains -- pautas para un examen integral del diccionario de la lengua española de la Real Academia Española.) The table of contents (indice) lists 8 modos formales de la imputación implicita. You don't really need to know what that means or what they are. I mention it because the modos are labeled thus:


Another language with a number of two-letter symbols treated as single alphabetic entities is Welsh. Here's alphabetical order for that language:

a, b, c, ch, d, dd, e, f, ff, g, ng, h, i, j, l, ll, m, n, o, p, ph, r, rh, s, t, th, u, w, y

You're probably wondering how the language can do without such essential letters as k, q, v, and z. Here's how: the words for kangaroo, kilogram, kilometer, quarrel, quarter, vinegar, and zoo are written cangarŵ, cilogram, cilomedr, cweryl, chwarter, finegr, and . (All of these nouns are masculine, except for sŵ, which may be masculine or feminine. If you were trying to guess the gender of a random Welsh noun, masculine wouldn't be a bad guess.)

From finegr and sŵ, and from the well-known fact that ll represents an unvoiced l, you've already realized that Welsh uses doubled consonants to represent unvoiced versions of the corresponding single consonants (except, of course, that dd is the voiced version of th, and though there's no ss, si represents the esh sound that arises from palatalizing an unvoiced s). See how fast you're catching on?

Of no practical utility.

collector syndrome
The malady of accumulating more pets than one can care for.

In the US, the word college is used in a general way and in some specific ways. In general, it refers to a post-secondary educational institution. So ``went off to college,'' which contains a suggestion of distance, means something like ``left to live near a college or university'' and probably attend classes occasionally. ``Attended college'' means enrolled in a university or a senior or junior college, probably in the expectation that after the payment of some amount of tuition, a receipt (called a ``diploma'') will be issued.

Specific senses of the word college usually mark a college as in some way inferior or subsidiary to a university. For example, an individual college that is not part of some larger university usually does not award graduate degrees, while any university usually has at least some masters programs. Many universities are organized into colleges (e.g., the College of Arts and Sciences of the University New Bigstate at Isolated Village, the Graduate College of CUNY, Rutgers College of Rutgers University). Some of the more pretentious universities (Princeton comes to mind) call their dormitories ``residential colleges.''

From the time that the first universities were established in the Middle Ages at Paris and Bologna, colleges were subdivisions of universities. That has been the case generally for degree-granting institutions of higher education in Europe. The one prominent exception I am aware of, of an Old World college that was never part of a university, is the renowned Gresham College whose success eventually led to the creation of the Royal Society of London. Gresham College, however, does not matriculate students or award degrees. Nevertheless, perhaps this was the example that led to the different use of the word college in the US. Either that, or an unwonted modesty.

We mention Red Brick universities at the pseudonym entry. Th Red Bricks come moderately close to being the English institutions equivalent to free-standing American colleges. There isn't much of a college/university distinction in Japan. For now such discussion as we have of that topic is at the rejârando-ka entry.

It may be that some vocational institutes call themselves colleges now, or that ``beauty colleges'' do not require a high school diploma for admission, so ``post-secondary'' may be a soft part of the definition of a college. College and university accreditation is not a function of government in the US, and the federal government is involved with post-secondary education in somewhat roundabout ways, so college and university do not suffer from much from official definitions, and are as loosely defined as any other ordinary nouns.

I'll discuss such institutions as colleges of physicians only after I cover animal-group names (a shrewdness of apes, an exaltation of larks, a school of fish, etc.). I will point out, however, that schools of fish were originally called shoals of fish, and ``school'' was just an error for ``shoal'' that caught on.

college admissions
They will rarely admit the truth. See the SAT entry.

college algebra
High school algebra.

They are sort of middlebrow: ``graduate school'' means MD, other medical, Law, B-school.

collegiate dictionary
A substantial abridgement of a good dictionary. Tells you s.t., doesn't it.

The attempt to put two or more mutually impenetrable [``incompossible''; look it up in the I's] objects in the same place at the same time. For example, name-space collisions occur in a file structure when there is an attempt to give two files identical names. Message packets are said to collide on a communication line when they overlap or when they come so close to each other that it is no longer possible to extract one or more of the original messages. Buses avoid collisions by allowing only one connected device at a time to transmit on any given data transmission line.

Automobile collisions often occur when two egos attempt to exercise simultaneous sovereignty over the same time-dependent stretch of road. When the collision involves a large number of egos, Bunte Illustrierte many years ago used the wonderful term Massencarambolage. I hope that the etymology of this term has something to do with ¡Caramba!

In his very popular Worlds in Collision, the professional psychiatrist Immanuel Velikovsky advanced his theory that steady planetary orbits arose only in historical time, and that various mythological and biblical stories are descriptions of events involving planets which interacted electromagnetically. Despite the many glaring, um, difficulties with his theories, Velikovsky's books are still good for a laugh.

Juxtaposition of words. I really also ought to say something here about collocation methods in the numerical solution of partial differential equations, but for now I'll be satisfied with giving the standard spelling of the term. This (double-el) spelling of the co-location word is also a variant spelling (perhaps 10% of instances) of colocation in the sense relevant to servers.

COntrolled Limited MObile (communication system).

COrrelation (NMR) spectroscopy for LOng-range COuplings.

Spanish, `to place.'

An arrangement in which you connect up your own server computer on the premises of your Internet service provider (ISP). Cf. collocation.


Columbus's name in Spanish. Hence a place name in many countries of Latin America.

The largest and best known of these is the city of Colón, founded in Colombia in 1850. It is situated in what was known as the bahía de Limones (literally `Bay of Lemons'). It was built on the swampy low island of Manzanilla (`Chamomile'). It was an unhealthy place, but it has a deep, if unprotected, natural harbor. The port was connected to the mainland by an artificial isthmus created for the Panama Railroad to reach Panama City. (For the significance of this, see the golden spike entry.)

The settlement was originally called Aspinwall, after William H. Aspinwall (1807-1875), one of the railroad company's founders. The name was only changed to Colón at a later date, by a legislative enactment. The name had been suggested by Dr. Mariano Arosemena Quesada to honor the memory of the discoverer, who sailed into the bay in 1502 (on his fourth and final voyage of discovery). I tell ya, it used to be a lot easier to get your name in the encyclopedias. As the Enciclopedia Universal Ilustrada explains, the foreigners (``extranjeros'' not further specified) continued to use the name Aspinwall (the EUI neglects to explain that this was its original name, and that English was the common language of the city). In 1890 the government returned-to-sender all mail addressed to Aspinwall, and that was the end of that.

Also at some point, the name of the bay changed its grammatical number, becoming Bahía Limón (Limon Bay in English). The bay, protected by breakwaters, serves as a waiting area for ships about to enter the Panama Canal.

Colón has, of course, been a city in the Republic of Panama since that became independent of Colombia in 1885. It is the capital of the Atlantic-coast province surrounding it (also called Colón).

According to the EUI, the city plan of Colón is a modest imitation of that of Philadelphia (the one in Pennsylvania, I assume, and not, say, the one in Jordan). Also according to the EUI, the northern part of the city, with the railroad offices, was called Wáshington, and the southern part, built by the French canal people, was called Cristobál Colón. Yes, if true that is quite odd: a district with a name meaning `Christopher Columbus' in a city whose name means `Columbus,' in the country named after Columbus. The situation at the beginning of the twenty-first century is that Colón and Cristobal are twin cities, with Cristobal something of a suburb grown up around the portworks built by the US in the former Canal Zone. How all this aligns with the older areas, I'm not sure.

Mercury column. A term used in eighteenth-century English for the column of mercury in a thermometer or barometer. The word is a naturalized form of the French colonne, obviously from the same Latin word columna that became column in English. Cf. colonnade.

A tubular candy, brown on the outside, sold in Japan. Cf. BM, Pocari Sweat, and Skor. Our central list of these misbegotten names is at the coprophagy entry.

A tubular organ, brown on the inside. The large intestine. Learn about 3D Virtual Colonoscopy. Cf. BM.

A row of columns supporting an isolated long structure -- typically a decorative entablature, or a utilitarian aqueduct. Cf. this colon.

Remember, you can't spell colony without colon.

Kind of a big topic. For now, I'll mention that L'Oréal Art and Science Foundation sponsors some prizes for artistic or scientific work in the field of color.

Over time, I think I'll collect a few items here that I want to mention in a future color entry. At least you'll have some hints if you want to do your own research. Color terms in Homer are particularly puzzling, and a perennial topic of discussion. On the classics list, back in the days before it could be embarrassing to participate, I once posted a summary of earlier discussion on that topic. (The links from that post are to a defunct archive. Sorry.) At the end of the nineteenth century, as experimental psychology and departments of psychology were first coming into being, the problems of color perception were an important initial area of study. Later, the sociologists and amateur linguists got into the act. One of the most respected and cited works along this line is Berlin and Kay's Basic Color Terms (1969). It is intellectually sloppy starting from page one, but the authors don't manage to disprove the claims they make. Their basic claim is that there is a universal sequence in which color terms are initially added to a language.

The Latin word color (gen. coloris) was a masculine noun. The Spanish noun color is also usually masculine. This is consistent not only with etymology but with the morphological pattern (see LONERS). However, the Real Academia asserts that, at least for the principal sense, it is also (but by implication less often) treated as feminine. I thought the female use was pretty rare. I was shocked by the color entry of Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española (1611, with manuscript supplement in 1615), where the author (Sebastián de Covarrubias Horozco) treated the word as feminine in almost all instances. I suppose this shows what a sheltered life I've led, but after all, aren't we talking about sex?! (BTW, Covarrubias doesn't bother to state the genders of words explicitly, but his definitions are more discursive than is currently the standard style, so in any moderately long entry the gender of the head term will probably be indicated by ordinary agreement.) Googling suggests that currently, color is feminine in roughly 5% of occurrences.

Corominas y Pascual indicates (or Corominas and Pascual indicate -- I can do it either way) that ... eh, why paraphrase when I can do as much harm by translating?

The gender vacillated until the classical era [sixteenth and early seventeenth century, say] (and still today in rural and poetic usage), the feminine attaching itself above all to the acception `facial coloration' (Quijote, II, ch. 10, etc.; general in the middle ages) but also, to a lesser extent, in the general acception (e.g., las colores de las flores [`the colors of the flowers'] Lope, Marqués de las Navas, v. 2134; common in the middle ages: Berceo, Loores, 85c; J. Manuel, Conde Luc., 30.1; but already masculine in J. Ruiz, 288b).

It seems also that certain idioms have standardized on female color. There's a colloquial expression ``comerle la color a algien,'' which literally translated means `eat the color of someone from him [or her].'' Some time ago I saw this described as a Venezuelan idiom meaning `to be unfaithful to, cheat on.' Looking around now (late March 2007, if it should matter), it becomes clear that the expression is most popular in Chile, and that it has a broader range of meanings. The various meanings taken together suggest that the action described drains the color from the face of the victim. Thus one meaning is to cuckold, but more generally it is to embarrass someone by taking something that belongs to him, figuratively to eat his lunch. (Or hers.) If you prefer literalness in translations, then the idiom involves a specific kind of causing someone else to lose face.

Oh yeah, the noun means `color,' essentially. For more on the meaning, see the coloreado entry.

A Spanish adjective meaning `red' and `colored,' not to mention the figurative meanings. The more common modern word for red is rojo, but there are collocations and applications that conventionally use colorado. Dialectally (in Argentina, at least), for example, Colorado is used as a nickname for a redhead, and a red horse is described as colorado.

Another example is political: leftist ``red,'' for example, is preserved in parties and persons called colorados, like the Uruguayan Partido Colorado, whose flag is a red field with a golden sun in the upper left. (A similar golden sun appears in a similar position in the national flag of Uruguay.) Of course, such names can become fossilized. The colorados today are social democrats, and in the 1999 presidential elections they were essentially the centrist party, between the blancos to the right and Frente Amplio coalition on the left. The blancos, `whites,' are the Partido Nacional or (original name) Partido Blanco. Since the nineteenth century, the colorados had been the dominant party in a two-party system, and the blancos the dominant conservative party, usually in opposition. Things have been changing rapidly, however. In the elections of 1999 the FA emerged as the largest party in the legislature (~40%) and forced a run-off in the presidential election. In the latter, the blancos supported the colorado candidate, who won. The two parties maintained a legislative alliance for a few years. Strategically, it was a bad time to be in power: a Brazilian currency devaluation, an Argentine economic collapse, and outbreaks of foot-and-mouth in the beef industry all contributed to major recession. In the 2004 elections, the colorados received about 10% of the vote (in legislative and presidential elections), and the FA won the presidency and absolute majorities in the legislature. I guess you didn't need to know all that, or that the left wing of the Partido Blanco, still and again the dominant conservative opposition, is now to the left of much of the Partido Colorado.

While color, has had a fluctuating gender and a roughly constant set of meanings, the related verb colorado has fluctuated in sense. (There could hardly be any argument tbout the gender; the female form is colorada, and the plurals are formed by adding ess.) The gender fluctuations (is that kinky ¿or what?) of color have a slight basis in Latin: the original word is of the third declension, so it gives no morphological clue to its gender. (To be fair on both sides, however, this is not a common source of confusion. Most male and female third-declension Latin nouns preserve their gender through the evolution into Spanish.)

The word colorado has a better alibi in Latin, but I jus realized that I can pretend that this entry is complete now, and come back and augment it later. You won't complain.

There is a similarly confusing red word in Russian. The standard word meaning red (krasn'ii) was once used in the transferred sense of beautiful, eloquent, fine, etc. These senses are preserved in various common compound terms and names, but otherwise it is now archaic to use in these senses. The plaza called Red Square was named in this way. Saint Basil's Cathedral was originally described as beautiful (krasnaya, in the appropriate inflection), and the adjective became attached to the square it was on.

What did I just get finished telling you!? You did? Oh, sorry. Colorear and colorar are two Spanish verbs meaning `to color.' They're derived from the Latin colorare. In Italian, oddly, the Latin -are verb became an Italian -ire verb, which was borrowed into Spanish by 1613 as colorir. The three verbs have similar ranges of meaning, evidently with regional variations. However, colorar, and more especially its passive participle colorado (like `colored'), uniquely preserves the specific sense of `turn red, color red' that occurred in Latin. In his 1611 dictionary (details at color), Covarrubias states flatly that colorado means la cosa de color rojo (`the red thing'), though this probably does not rule out the sense of colored. For color in the senses of mascara and lip colorant he makes the color red (rojo) central to the definition. The current dictionary of the Real Academia gives [in translation] `colored' as the first sense of colorado and `colored red' as the second sense. I think the second sense is falling in importance. Then again, I would never have guessed that prieto (generally narrow, straitened, dark [like a narrow alley, I guess]) would mean simply black in Mexican.

colored houses
The ``Foo House,'' where foo is a color, is often the name of the national presidential mansion. I guess the pattern began with the White House (US). The Casa Rosada (`Pink House') is the Argentine presidential mansion, and the Korean one is called the `Blue House.' (No, I don't know how that goes in Korean.)

John Edwards, who ran for the Democratic Party Presidential nomination in 2004, born in Seneca, South Carolina, lived in a pink house as a newborn, but the family moved to a larger house across town during his first year. I'm not sure the house was pink when he lived there. You want to know more.

At the time of his death, ex-president Chester Alan Arthur's estate included something on New York City's Sixth Avenue, above Central Park, known as the Red House property. Slim pickin's, I know.

Here are links to various buildings and places named the equivalent of ``<Color> House'' in some language (possibly even English), where <Color> is, you guessed it, a color word:

COnceptual Learning Of Science.

A surgical procedure for making an artificial opening into the colon through the abdominal wall, and the name of the opening itself. See UOA. Colostomies are now commonly widely performed on elderly patients who have had a colectomy for colon cancer. It was originally most common for dealing with the congenital absence of the anus in new-borns (see POC).

Combat Observation Laser Team. An [information] acquisition asset.

COLumbite-TANtalite. Mineral found in eastern Zaire (the Belgian Congo, that would be ``the `Democratic Republic' of the Congo'' now).

A good tantalum ore. The use of tantalum capacitors in cell phones is being blamed for driving an illegal, militia-financing coltan boom in DRC that is endangering gorillas and World Heritage sites.

column decoder
Vide bit line.

Campaign for Open Media. Is that like open-source data storage? Sort of. It's a South African NGO, defunct since it merged into FXI in January 1994.

Certified Orofacial Myologist. The certifying organization is the IAOM, q.v..

Coma Berenices. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

Component Object Model. Object model for Microsoft Windows.

COMmercial. An international top-level domain (TLD). Early in 2001, ICANN agreed that Verisign could keep its monopoly as .com registry until 2008.

Continuation Of Message.

Remember, you can't spell combat without C-O-M-B.

Remember, you can't spell combat without ... why are you groaning?

Eventually this entry may be better organized, but for the time being I'll just put in place some of the content:
  1. Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders, first published in 1936, makes mention of the comb-over concept in chapter 3. Captain Arthur Hastings, O.B.E., who is frequently Dr. Watson to Hercule Poirot's Sherlock Holmes, describes a visit to Poirot by Chief Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard:
        ``Well, I never,'' he exclaimed. ``If it isn't Captain Hastings back from the wilds of the what do you call it! Quite like old days seeing you here with Monsieur Poirot. You're looking well, too. Just a little bit thin on top, eh? Well, that's what we're all coming to. I'm the same.''
        I winced slightly. I was under the impression that owing to the careful way I brushed my hair across the top of my head the thinness referred to by Japp was quite unnoticeable. However, Japp had never been remarkable for tact where I was concerned, so I put a good face upon it and agreed that we were none of us getting any younger.
    The second paragraph is pretty much in character for the captain, and touches on certain clichés of the comb-over phenomenon, particularly the sensitivity of the combers-over and their delusion that the strategem is not, so to speak, transparent. The only important aspect not very clearly referenced (perhaps because it follows or is obvious) is the fact that almost everyone who does not use one regards the comb-over as ridiculous and ugly.
    Inspector Japp's ``the what do you call it'' is ``the Argentine,'' as Argentina was known. (Ukraine was similarly once quite systematically referred to as ``the Ukraine.'')
  2. In May 1977, Frank J. and Donald J. Smith, of Orlando, Florida, were granted US Patent No. 4,022,227: ``Method of Concealing Partial Baldness.'' This link is to the USPTO's own record. If you want to see the associated images without using the USPTO's browser plug-in, see it at Google Patents.
    It is unclear to me what part if any of this patent was not, ahem, covered under ``prior art.'' Comb-overs are most often done from one side only, so maybe that's it. The claims of a patent are generally separable, so it is safe to claim too much and let the chips fall where they may if an infringement case reaches court. It is my understanding, from an interview with the ``inventors'' that I once read, that at the time of the patent filing (1975) the Smiths (such an appropriately unoriginal surname!) had been planning to market some associated hardware, but later abandoned that project. This would presumably be the ``object'' mentioned in claim 3 (but evidently not 4):
    3. A method as in claim 2 wherein after the hair from the back of the head is folded over the bald area, an object is placed over the hair and hair from a first of the sides is brushed over the object, and after the hair from said first side is folded into place the object is placed over the hair and the hair from the second side is folded over the object.
    4. A method as in claim 3, wherein said object is a person's hand the hair spray is applied after the hair from said first side is folded into place and again after said second side being folded into place.
  3. After Japp has left, Poirot coughs and says ``You know, Hastings, there is a little device--my hairdresser is a man of great ingenuity--one attaches it to the scalp and brushes one's own hair over it--it is not a wig, you comprehend--but--'' The captain is not intrigued by the possibility, to say the least.

Come as you are.
Come after spending three hours to achieve a casual look.

COMECON, Comecon
COMmunist ECONomies. An unofficial name for the CMEA member countries or the ``CMEA (7)'' members (seven European countries, including the USSR).

Commonwealth Edison. A Chicago-area electric power utility.


Institute (also Centre) for Classical, Oriental, MEdieval and Renaissance Studies.

Comparative Molecular Field Analysis. Used for QSAR.

COnductivity-Modulated FET. A class of devices that includes IGFET's and power bipolar transistors.

There are two main ways to be comfortable: like a chair and like a person sitting on the chair. In Spanish these two meanings are distributed to two different adjectives: confortable (like the seat) and cómodo (like the seated). The different associated meanings of be are also distributed -- to the verbs ser and estar, respectively. Thus:
    Spanish                          English
La silla es confortable.         The chair is comfortable.
La persona esta cómoda.          The person is comfortable.

comic nose
An anagram of economics. One of the useful data on this page.

Here at home (i.e., in the SBF glossary) recent expansion has regrettably separated this (comic nose) entry from the common cold entry.

COMINT, comint
COMmunications INTelligence.

Consortium Of MInority Resources. Or maybe COnsortium of MInority Resources. Or maybe the O in the acronym COMIR is not defined as coming from a particular one of the O's in its expansion. I wish I'd had that thought twenty-thousand-odd acronyms ago, when I was first establishing the style conventions of this glossary. Oh well, maybe next time.

According to COMIR,

Over the last several years a number of organizations (NGOs, INGOs as well as IGOs) have been engaged in the development of online resources to facilitate the exchange of information, to support minority initiatives and to advocate minority rights in the region. These organizations have adopted various strategies to collect and disseminate information. These strategies often result in overlapping efforts and parallel projects. Thus is seen the necessity of cooperation and coordination between various organizations engaged in the development of online resources, networking and dissemination of information on the issues of minority rights, multicultural politics and ethnic relations in Central and Eastern Europe, and in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

COMIR is an Internet-based cooperative project that aims at promoting the free flow of information and dialogue in the field of ethnic relations, multicultural politics and minority rights. COMIR aims to establish a clearinghouse of information and activities relevant to Europe (OSCE region) to support democratic governance of multiethnic and multinational societies. To this end, COMIR develops and promotes virtual libraries, mailing lists, a database of full text documents, training materials, etc. Major initiatives include a Virtual Library, coordinated mailing lists, a meta-search engine across founders' web sites, a Minority Rights Practitioners Resource Pack, a best practice database, curriculum development and advocacy training.

See also BAN.

In the immortal words of Dave Barry, ``I am not making this up.'' ``Comitology'' is an EU term for ``a process in which the Commission, when implementing EU law, consults advisory committees of experts from member states.''

It's well known that a comma added or subtracted can radically alter the meaning of a sentence. (Especially when a comma is subtracted that isn't there in the first place, but let's not go there.) Probably the most common such alteration is a switch in the status of a clause from restrictive to nonrestrictive, or vice versa. [I'm working on an example, okay?]

Omitting a comma can also cause a subordinate clause that modifies an entire main clause to modify a single word instead. Consider, for example, this sentence from our But seriously folks... entry:

I didn't write back asking for proof, which demonstrates that I am a clueless moron.

Sentences whose meanings are reversed by omission or addition of commas are rarer, but they're not too hard to construct.

The countable noun command is an instruction that is expected to be obeyed, and performed without regard to the performer's personal preference. Commands are sometimes phrased in ways that do not reflect accurately the power relationship between the commander and commanded.

The words request and instruction are also used, particularly in computing, since computers don't yet have what we think of as volitional preferences (but then there's HAL). For more thoughts along these lines, I firmly encourage you to see the kill -9 entry.

In Ack-Ack, ``Tim'' Pile remembers his early years in the Army...

I did not remain long at Topsham Barracks. In the following January, while on Christmas leave, I received a telegram: ``Would it be convenient to you to embark for South Africa 30th January.'' This was my first experience of official letters; later on I began to understand their underlying significance. I even understood that the displeasure of the Army Council--which I received at a much later stage in my career--was not nearly such a fearsome thing, anyway, after one had survived the first shock. On this particular occasion I took the telegram at its face value and wired back, ``Would much prefer to embark after the hunting season is over.'' This caused a terrible sensation, and I got wires to return at once to Topsham Barracks, where my major spoke to me at some length on the duties of a soldier. I tried to explain that I thought they were giving me the option as to what I should like to do, and he replied, ``Young man, a request from the War Office is a command.''

I embarked on the troopship Dunera for Cape Town on January 30, 1905. ...

If Tim Pile had not had such an irregular, indulgent, and deficient grade-school education (as he describes in the book), he would not have entered his military training at the bottom of his class. He would also already have learned from the example of his fourth-grade teacher that figures of authority may express commands as if they were suggestions or options. Sometimes this is a form of humor. It's a funny sort of humor: funny only to the commander, and only funny if the person commanded does not find it funny but ``gets it.''

Oh, here's something I read in an email from the unnamed chairman of an unnamed department at an unnamed university today:

I hope you will all encourage (i.e., require) your undergrad researchers to participate in this event.

What makes this particularly interesting is that it contains nested, errr, expressions of preference.

Without underwear. To dress without underwear is to ``go commando.'' Roughing it, so to speak.

Oh, it has other meanings! I guess the sartorial sense is derived from the earlier use of commando to designate a small body of picked men (or a member of that unit) sent on a difficult, possibly unconventional mission -- what we now call special forces (or, sometimes imprecisely, spetsnaz, for local color).

(They say that truth is the first casualty of war. And if you go commando, you do without war briefs. Makes perfect sense.)

But where did it all begin? Here's the entry from EB11, vol. VI, pg. 765:

COMMANDO, a Portuguese word meaning ``command,'' adopted by the Boers in South Africa through whom it has come into English use, for military and semi-military expeditions against the natives. More particularly a ``commando'' was the administrative and tactical unit of the forces of the former Boer republics, ``commandeered'' under the law of the constitutions which made military service obligatory on all males between the ages of sixteen and sixty. Each ``commando'' was formed from the burghers of military age of an electoral district.

The Portuguese, you will remember, colonized regions to the northwest and northeast of South Africa -- present-day Angola and Mozambique, resp. It must be noted that Portugal is a small country even by European standards, and most of its colonization was in the form of coastal enclaves ranging in size from Goa to undermanned fortresses on coastal islands. That's why it was natural for King Leopold II of little Belgium, getting a late start on the African colonization bonanza, to squeeze the Portuguese out of the Congo, where they had only a trading-relations toe-hold.

The Portuguese language before the twentieth century had a pseudo-etymological orthography like English and French, preserving many historical features that encoded no systematic phonemic information. One such feature was the double em in words like commando. Much of this was swept away after reforms were adopted in the Portuguese-speaking countries in 1911-1915. These generally popular reforms left Portuguese with a leaner phonetic spelling like those of Spain and Italy. Differences in pronunciation between Brazil and the rest of the Portuguese-speaking world (primarily Portugal) have made further standardization problematic. Anyway, commando, as the word was spelled during the Boer War, has been spelled comando in the original language since just after the above-quoted EB entry was published.

The Portuguese noun comando has about the same range of meanings as the English noun `command,' including that of `military order' (regarding which, vide supra). (The form comando of the verb comandar means `I command.') At least as early as 1791, the word was in use in the restricted sense of an official order permitting an action against natives such as described in EB11. Historical examples in the OED2 suggest that the word became attached successively to the action itself and then to the organized group that did or might undertake the action. In the UK in 1940 the word was retasked, referring to men selected for special training as shock troops to repel the expected German invasion of England. The modern sense (I mean before the underwear sense; the sense of special forces for raids -- actions behind enemy lines) came into use later in the war.

commencement exercises
Mostly standing up and sitting down, and walking between the stations. ``Commencement'' indeed: just warm-up exercises.

``America's premier monthly magazine of opinion.'' Hmmm. A good case can be made for that, especially as the premier magazines of opinion on the left are published more frequently (The Nation is weekly, the New York Review of Books is published 20 times per year). Cf. Commonweal, First Things.

commercial at
Official ANSI/CCITT name for the @ symbol. Read Scott Herron's article on the names of the at sign.

common cold
A catch-all term for a variety of viral infections of the respiratory tract, caused by any one of hundreds of viruses in several major viral families. About 40% are caused by rhinoviruses, sickness occurring mainly in the Spring and fall. Others, including syncytial viruses, tend to strike in midwinter. (See flu for differential diagnosis.) Synonyms are coryza and (loosely speaking) catarrh. Grippe (or la grippe, if your poem needs another foot) is flu rather than cold, but that's a very common conflation.

common collector common base
Amplification strategy in which a unity-voltage-gain common collector amplifier is used as an input stage to eliminate Miller-effect multiplication. This input stage does generate current gain, however, which the CB second stage converts into a voltage gain.

``A Review of Religion, Politics, and Culture.'' Biweekly for most of the year. A sort of Roman Catholic equivalent of Commentary magazine. Also have a look at First Things.

community property
In a ``community property state,'' the property of a married couple is owned jointly. If one of them goes bankrupt, they both go bankrupt. The community property states are Arizona (AZ), California (CA), Idaho (ID), Nevada (NV), Texas (TX), Washington State (WA), and Wisconsin (WI).

Louisiana is not technically a community property state, but it is similar. On most legal matters, Louisiana is an exception because of its Spanish/French legacy (i.e., tradition of Roman/Napoleonic code, instead of Common law).

Council Of Managers of National Antarctic Programs.

Church Of Monday Night Football.

One of the underappreciated benefits of religious pluralism is the load-leveling: different denominations worshipping on different days makes it possible for everyone to have a good time or fulfill their religious obligations or whatever on their own special day, while there is always someone on-duty at the help desk.

The official Monday Night Football URL is at the MNF entry.

A Spanish word that means both `I eat' and `how' or `as.' With appropriate punctuation, any sequence of comos can be interpreted as one or more grammatically correct sentences. Speaking such a sequence with the appropriate intonation is an irritating little game for irritating little children (mocosos). E.g.:

Como. -- `I eat.'
¿Como como? -- `How do I eat?'
¡Como como! -- `How I eat!'
Como como como. -- `I eat as [i.e. in the manner that] I eat.'

Moco, from Latin mucus, means what you'd expect. Mocoso means `runny-nosed' and (not in the literal sense) `runny-nosed kid.'

COleman-MOrse Center. A building on South Quad (of Notre Dame). New in 2005, it houses offices for the First Year of Studies program, Campus Ministry, a computer cluster, and 24-hour space that offers free popcorn and soda.

Abbreviation of compare, comparative, comparison, comparable, etc.

In grammatical terms, comparative refers either to the nonabsolute forms of modifiers (e.g., hazier and haziest, as opposed to hazy), or specifically to the forms (like hazier and more hazy) that are neither absolute nor superlative (haziest or most hazy). (In languages without a superlative form, that's not a very important synactic distinction.) In the following, we use the narrower sense.

The comparative of adjectives in English can always be formed periphrastically (as more heated and more loud from the absolute forms heated and loud) and often by inflection, using the suffix -er: (e.g., louder). The -er inflection tends to be less acceptable on word already inflected. Hence, the (past and present) participles heated and writhing, formed from verbs by addition of -ed and -ing, do not take -er. Similarly, adverbs formed from adjectives by the addition of -ly rarely occur in a comparative form in -lier. The apparent exceptions all seem to be adjectives in -ly (shapelier, kindlier, livelier). Adjectives formed by the suffix -y from nouns take the -er (and -est) inflection readily (e.g., windier).

Where an inflected comparative form is available, the periphrastic form avoided.

A small number of older comparative and superlative forms are not straightforwardly constructed by addition of the -er or -est suffixes: good, better, best; bad, worse, worst; etc. The word more itself is the common comparative form of the adjectives many (for countable nouns) and much (for uncountable). The word most is similarly the common superlative form. The expressions many more and much more are instances of the absolute forms many and much functioning as adverbs to modify their own comparative forms (to wit, the word more functioning as adverb or adjective).

Corresponding to the general quantifiers many and much for countable and uncountable nouns, respectively, there are adjectives few and little. These do have distinct comparative and superlative forms: fewer and fewest, and less and least. The widespread supermarket-checkout use of ``less than 12 items'' is offensive because it is such a trivial and pointless error. Complain to the manager.

COMParable {home|property}. Term used in real estate, specifically in conducting an appraisal or a CMA.

COMPensat{ion|ory}. ``Informal,'' but more common than what is usually called slang. Workmen's Compensation is usually called ``Workmen's Comp,'' and terms like compensatory time (or a compensatory day) are similarly abbreviated. (Comp time is time off in lieu of overtime pay.)

Noun, adjective, and verb: complimentary, something given complimentarily (gratis), and make complimentary. See RFB entry.

Abbreviation of compute, computer, and related words.

The reason so many words begin with these four letters -- C-O-M-P -- is that con- is common prefix in Latin and lots of useful Latin root words begin in the letter "p," The bilabial nasal consonant em is easier to articulate before another bilabial consonant like "b" or "p" than the open consonant en, so in Latin as in many languages, there is a systematic substitution of -mp- for -np-.

Compaq Computer Corporation was founded in 1982 by three senior managers from TI. It held the largest share of the PC market at some point.

In 2001, Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina began a push for HP to purchase Compaq. The purchase was opposed by director Walter Hewlett, son of company co-founder William Hewlett. The Hewlett and Packard families, which together owned 18% of the company, voted against the merger, but HP shareholders approved it over their opposition on March 19, 2002; Compaq shareholders accepted the deal the next day.

Common Operational Modeling Planning And Simulation Strategy.

COMputer-adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System. An assessment test for students entering college.

compass directions
There are conventional names for 32 evenly spaced directions or ``compass points.'' The names are best understood in a sequence of increasingly recondite names.

At the first step, there are the well-known N, E, W, S. (There is a folk etymology that the word news is derived from this sequence of letters, representing the idea that news comes from all directions. This is a very lame theory.)

To establish a mathematical convention for the rest of this very important glossary entry, we note that taking E as the orientation of origin, and taking positive angles in the conventional sense, E, N, W, and S represent angles of 0, pi/2 (90°), pi, and 3pi/2, respectively.

A second set of directions is named by combining terms for adjacent directions in the first set: NE (northeast), NW (northwest), SW (southwest) and SE (southeast), at pi/4 (45°), 3pi/4, 5pi/4, 7pi/4. Note that in this binomial set, N or S always precedes E or W.

The third set of direction names is constructed in the form ABC, where A is in the first set {E, N, W, S} and BC is one of the two directions in the second set {NE, NW, SW, SE} which is closest to the given A. The direction represented by ABC is half-way between the directions represented by A and by BC. Thus we have the eight directions ENE, NNE, NNW, WNW, WSW, SSW, SSE, ESE, at odd multiples of pi/8 (22.5°): pi/8, 3pi/8, ... , 15pi/8. The names of these directions are simply the names of the direction components used to construct them: ENE is ``east northeast,'' SSW is ``south southwest.'' All one is doing is reciting or writing the three elementary direction names, with a pause or space between the first two. By the nature of the construction, two of the three elementary directions in the name are identical.

The fourth set of directions is constructed by ``tweaking`` (not official terminology) directions from the first and second set (but not from the third set) by pi/16 (11.25°). The names of these compass directions reflect this origin. They are of the form AbC and ABbC, where A and AB are directions in the first and second sets, respectively, and C is always one of the four principal directions (the first set). Thus, directions in the form AbC have both A and C a principal direction: AbC is A tweaked a little bit in the direction of C. For example, EbN (east by north) is almost east; it is the direction pi/16 instead of exactly 0. [Intermission: in the summer of 1979, I would take 3 AM walks through deepest suburbia. It occurred to me that I could strip naked and walk down the middle of the street unobserved, because everyone was asleep. I sort of have that feeling now, writing this section. Sometimes I feel that way when I'm teaching class. End of intermission.] NbE (north by east) is almost north, but tweaked a bit to the east, so it is 7pi/16 instead of exactly pi/2. Directions ABbC follow the same idea, but the directions one is tweaking away from are from the second set. Thus, SWbW (southwest by west) is a shade west of southwest: (5pi/4 - pi/16 = 19pi/16) and SWbS (southwest by south) is a shade south of SW (5pi/4 + pi/16 = 21pi/16). The sixteen independent directions in this fourth set are odd multiples of pi/16.

Compassionate Conservatism
Conservatism with a better advertising profile. The term was coined by Marvin Olasky, the kind of crass person who regularly mentions his children in inappropriate contexts. The term was adopted by George W. Bush for his (barely) successful US presidential campaign in 2000.

I'm an aisle person and she's a window person.

I believe a little incompatibility is the spice of life, as long has he has income and she is pattable.

-- Ogden Nash

Smug, or inappropriately unworried. Cf. complaisant, with which it shares virtually identical etymology.

Willing or eager to please or comply; cheerfully acquiescent. Cf. complacent. Because one pronunciation of complaisant coincides with the common pronunciation of complacent, and because they modify the same set of nouns, confusion can arise as to which is meant. Or rather, because complacent is more frequently used, complaisant will often be misunderstood when not accompanied by contextual clarification. The solution is to use the alternate, Frenchy pronunciation (with a voiced /z/ sound for the ess).

Acting to complete or make whole. Vide CMOS, complimentary.

The title of a book by John L. Casti. It's nonfiction, but it's published by HarperCollins. Cf. WANT. More later.

When spelling out the words represented by the acronym CMOS, this is a word you should NOT use. The word you want is complementary, with no letter "i." The i-word means something like politely flattering; it's related to ``compliment,'' meaning praise. The term is also used to mean free, as in ``Come visit our store to receive your complimentary faux snake toothpick holder.'' This is considered a distinct meaning because often, the giving of such gifts does not express a compliment but rather the sentiment that you are a sucker. Comp. comp.

Here is another example, from a published article on scavenging and aerosol reactions in cumulus clouds:

* ``Aircraft measurements were complimented by a ground sampling station ....''
As you now surely realize, the authors meant that the ground station ``complemented'' the aircraft monitoring. As written, the passage suggests that someone on the ground was radioing encouragement to the pilot.

comp lit
COMParative LITerature. A more useful entry is ACLA, for the American Comparative Literature Association.

comprehensive school
As a technical term in UK education, described at the grammar school entry.

The opposite of disproportionation, q.v.

COMPrehensive examS. An alternate term for Ph.D. qualifying exams at some universities.

In a research report entitled Biological Computers, W. Ross Ashby and Heinz von Foerster wrote:
Warren McCulloch was the first to extend the familiar usage of the word ``computation'' beyond the description of mere numerical manipulations to the general class of operations that reduce information. By this he restored its classical meaning, used by Juvenal when he wrote computat say ``Your face shows your age.'' Doubtless, the showing is an information reduction, for while ten billion faces can be distinguished (about 33 bits), a man's years are--at most--associated with only 7.

I'm not sure I'd entirely agree. Determining x+1 does not reduce x in any common sense, but I think it counts as a computation. I'm also concerned that with the growing population of the world, it's increasing likely that someone out there is indistinguishable from me, or at least from one of the ages of me. Poor fellow.

The Latin phrase referred to, incidentally, is facies tua computat annos.

The question of reduction is not a minor one. One of the attractions of quantum computation is that (if some of its advocates are correct) quantum computations can be performed dissipationlessly -- i.e., at zero cost in energy. I suspect that can only be done if you have infinite time to wait for the results, but never mind. An obvious objection to this claim is that if a calculation involves a reduction in information, then entropy increases, and entropy increase implies heat generation and dissipation. The answer to this objection was (back when I read about this) that computation can be made reversible, so that at any stage the stored data are sufficient to recover the initial inputs. This logical reversibility is at least a necessary condition for thermodynamic reversibility.

``Never try to explain computers to a layman. It's easier to explain sex to a virgin.''
-- Robert Heinlein. (Don't try to explain lap-tops to Heinlein. He's dead.)

A Ziff-Davis publication, in various inch-thick regional editions. If you leave it in your car in the summer, pretty soon it'll smell like a fresh coat of old-style (non-latex) housepaint. Mmmm, delicious! That's the secret of their success.

COMSAT, Comsat
COMmunications SATellite. Military term is SATCOM.

COMmunications SECurity.

Council on Medical Student Education Education in Pediatrics.

COMPuting Technology Industry Association.

COMTRAD Industries
They market an achievement in Computer Technology that they call LitterMaid. True spiritual successor to Ronco, they offer a physics-defying loudspeaker and other marvels.

(Click here for top) Previous section: cm (top) to Cn3D (bottom)

Next section: con (top) to COXE (bottom)

[ Thumb tabs and search tool] [ SBF Homepage ]

Space above was intentionally left free of glossary definitions so that links to bottom of document can appear at the top of the screen display.

© Alfred M. Kriman 1995-2012 (c)