- Lactose Intolerance. Lactose is the principal sugar in milk, and it is normally broken down by the
The custom of drinking milk or consuming milk products into adulthood is not
universal. It only began with the domestication of animals, and did not become
universal even among agricultural societies. In crude approximation, one may
say that milk is a Caucasian taste. (Mnemonic:
white.) In the US, milk and milk products are used extensively in prepared
foods and restaurant meals, which is okay for probably ninety percent of the
Back in 1977 or so, when Warren and I were in college, he came down with this
persistent intestinal problem -- severe gas pains. He went to a bunch of
doctors who failed to diagnose his problem, although in retrospect it was as
obvious as the color of his skin. He eventually visited a doctor who happened
to be black like him, and who diagnosed LI. When the lactose isn't broken
down by the body's own enzymes, intestinal flora feast on it and release gas.
If you are in a food-service profession, or even if you just happen to be raising children in
Alabama, you may find our
Hold-the-cheese entry instructive.
- Langelier Index. A pH measure of relevance to
hard water. Its value is given by
L.I. = pH - pHs ,
where pHs is the pH of a solution with the same concentration of
Ca2+ at the point where it is just saturated with calcium.
The idea is to keep the L.I. high enough to prevent precipitation of calcium
carbonate (formation of ``scale'' or ``sinter''), but not so high that one
risks corroding metal pipes.
If vapor pressure were measured this way, its L.I. would be something like
the difference between actual temperature and the dew point.
- Laser Ionization. Vide LIMS.
- (Domain name code for) Liechtenstein.
Liechtensteinian page of an X.500 directory.
to the principality's government, ``[a]s an important part of its
sovereignty, Liechtenstein pursues an independent and active foreign policy.''
In 1990, it even joined the UN.
- Linguistic Inquiry. A journal.
- Linux International.
- Chemical symbol for LIthium. At Z=3, the
lightest alkali metal, unless you count
cold, compressed hydrogen.
Early in the twentieth century, lithium bromide (LiBr) was used as a sedating tranquilizer. This led to
our use of the word ``bromide'' for a trite, not to say slumber-inducing,
saying. Somebody (I forget who: probably Gelett Burgess, but maybe Don
Marquis) wrote ``Are You a Bromide?''
It turns out,
however, that the psychoactive element is lithium. This was discovered,
quite accidentally, by John F. J. Cade in 1949. Unfortunately, by the 1940's,
lithium was considered dangerous, because its use as a sodium substitute
in cardiac patients led to some deaths. Cade found that lithium was effective
against bipolar disorder (then called manic depression). That story is told
at the alkali metals entry here and
in Peter D. Kramer: Listening to Prozac. [It helps Kramer make one
of his central points, which is, roughly, that a successful therapy can define
a diagnosis. That's part of the idea of the title: listen to the successful
therapy Prozac, it tells us something about what we might or should call
emotional health. See also this ED entry.]
Because of the distrust of lithium, and because of Cade's obscurity, lithium therapy did not catch on again
until the sixties. I remember, though, a lot of glossy lithium ads in my
grandmother's Journal of the American Psychiatric Association from those
days. The ads were glossy, not the lithium. By that time they were
marketing it in the chloride.
The group Nirvana had a song called Lithium, 4:19 in the album version. Its
first words, sung morosely by lead vocalist Kurt Cobain, are ``I'm so happy.''
KC eventually committed suicide.
Learn more about the chemical element lithium at its
entry in WebElements and its
entry at Chemicool.
Lithium batteries are kind of unusual. Normally, a battery has
- a positive electrode coated with a chemical species to be reduced,
- a negative electrode coated with a chemical species to be oxidized,
- an electrolyte to move ions around.
A simple example would be Ag2O [silver (I) oxide] to be reduced at the anode, and
Zn [zinc] to be oxidized at the cathode, with a water
electrolyte. Lithium, however, is just burning to be oxidized, so one doesn't
need anything special at the positive electrode -- water electrolyte itself
serves as the oxidizing agent, with hydrogen being
reduced and hydrogen gas being evolved.
- Long Island. It stretches ENE from
Manhattan, NY. Sometimes LI is used in place of the state abbreviation NY.
- Laser Institute of America.
- Linear Inductance Accelerator.
- One of the words most frequently misspelled in résumés. It's not the hardest word
to spell, but if your work history includes words like debris, a
résumé, let alone good spelling in it, may be unnecessary.
I have encountered the new English verb liaise. You shouldn't use this
word, no matter how convenient or useful it is, because that would be an
It's a French word, and in French one of the
things it refers to is the transition between two words. One well-known
consequence of liaison occurs in the pronunciation of a word-final letter ess (or zee or ex). A final ess preceding a consonant
is silent (as illustrated by a
pun or two at the lasagna entry), but it is
normally sounded when the following word begins with a vowel sound
(i.e., begins with vowel, possibly preceded by a silent aitch).
- The Indonesian word meaning `illegal.'
I mean, is that cool or what? Cf. air.
- Lexicon of Inconspicuously Ambiguous Recommendations. A ``means by
which the [writer of a letter of reference] can convey unfavorable information
in a way that the candidate cannot perceive as such'' if the possibly
litigious candidate should at some later time exercise his or her right to
read the letter. See
excerpt of posting by Brent Smith to classics list. An example:
(3) To describe a candidate with lackluster credentials:
"All in all, I cannot say enough good things about this
candidate or recommend him too highly."
- Unappreciated ironist. (It's an alternative interpretation, okay?)
- You mean liaison.
Official IAU abbreviation
for the constellation.
- Lib Dem
- LIBeral DEMocrat. A member of the UK's third
- libel law
- A mechanism for those who can afford pricey legal flunkies to bankrupt
- liberal arts
- Grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.
The first three, considered more elementary and more necessary to be known,
are called the trivium. The presumption that they are elementary
gave rise to the expression `trivial.' The remaining four are called the
Although this division of school subjects dates from the middle ages, it
is helpful to recognize, as Vico reminds us [ ftnt. 33 ] that the original sense of the root
liber was `noble.' Unfortunately, though, he was wrong; liber,
a cognate of Eng. leaf, is related to the Gk.
elphtherios (`freedom'). The association with nobility probably
developed later, from the unfortunate fact that it was mostly the noblemen
who were free.
Seven Liberal Arts are illustrated/personified/epitomized here.
- Lust-Induced Brain-Freeze. A concept introduced in Dave Barry's
Complete Guide to Guys: A Fairly Short Book by Dave Barry (New York: Random
House, 1995), p. 32.
- London Interbank BID rate. You take what you can get, and sometimes you
can get screwed. It's just a pun, okay?
Better than LIBF, in the long run.
- A Latin term, also spelled lubido, with a
constellation of meanings around the idea of `longing, desire.' It's a
feminine noun of the third declension (gen. sing.
libidinis or lubidinis).
Sigmund Freud adopted the term for his psychoanalytic theory, in which context
it is defined or described as a psychic drive or energy. Since I'm not
qualified to opine (or at least, since I know nothing about the subject), I can
fatuously affirm that the great utility of Freud's concept is in its liquid or
fungible aspect. Desire, in ordinary terms, is thought of as something fixated
on an object. In Freud's understanding, this was a bit too rational.
Libido in his theory is desire that can be transferred to a different
object, or that can be an underlying drive. The term is particularly
associated with sexual desire. Here we bump into a common irritation with
Freud: from time to time, he issues disclaimers briefly but carefully
explaining that it doesn't have to be about sex. Then he goes back to
ignoring anything that isn't to do with sex. See
LIBF for a more plausible theory.
- LIBOR, Libor
- London InterBank Offered Rate. Benchmark interest rate of the British
Bankers' Association, reflecting the short-term rates at which its banks lend
to each other. Cf. LIBID.
- At UB and at
ND. In case I lose my
bookmarks file, or can't access it. You don't matter; this glossary
is really just for my own information, and because it costs me nothing
I'm letting you see it too. If neither of these library systems is
convenient for you, build your own glossary.
The translation of library into another Western European language is
usually a cognate of the French word
bibliothèque (German Bibliothek,
Spanish and Portuguese biblioteca;
exception: Italian libreria). In French, librairie
(librería in Spanish, llibreria in Catalan) means
`bookstore.' For more of this sort of noncorrespondence of words and
translations, see the faux ami entry. For
online Spanish bookstores, see the links on
page (Librerías Españolas). (They're mostly small.
The best database I could find of books in Spanish is the Consultas page at
Librería Canaima. Casa del Libro offers to email you the
results of a search if their search form doesn't return any results.)
- French and
Spanish, `free' in the sense of having liberty,
not in the sense of the Latin, French, and Spanish
I would mention the conventional ``free as in speech, not as in beer,'' but I
won't, since it's not very original.
- librería de viejo
- A Spanish term meaning `used book store.'
Literally, the term means `bookstore of old,' although it can be interpreted as
`old person's bookstore.' Other terms in use are librería
anticuaria (`antiquarian bookstore') and librería de viejo y
antiguo (store selling books that are `old and very old' or `old and
- Librería Verde
- `Green Bookstore.' The name of a
New-Ageish Spanish-language bookstore.
- Spanish, `book.'
- LIBRO, Libro
- Library of
IBerian Resources Online. A site maintained by AARHMS.
- Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy.
- LIByan STUDies. Standard TOCS-IN
abbreviation. I imagine there are different titles that may correspond to
different journals or things outside of classics.
- Line-Interface Computer.
- Low-Intensity Conflict. Anything short of ``conventional war,'' whatever
- Leeds International
- Light-Induced Drift. See, for example
Vladimir M. Shalaev, Constantine Douketis and Martin Moskovits:
``Light-induced drift of electrons in metals,'' Physics Letters A,
vol 169, pp. 205-210 (1992).
- LIght Detection And Ranging.
- (Telephone) Line Information DataBase.
- Long Island Dental Hygienists'
Association. I'm just a sucker for a beautiful smile and nicely placed
- Long Island Expressway. A parking lot.
- No, no, it wasn't a ``lie.'' It was a
surprise -- albeit an unpleasant one.
- Laser-Induced Fluorescence.
some instructional material from Virginia Tech.
- You've got to learn to take it one disaster at a time. If time permits.
- They say that Life is a picture
- life I used to know, The
- A rock lyric. Like babybaby, the phrase does not occur in any other
- A judicial sentence of life plus fifty years in prison. That's so they
can't bury you outside. No, not really. Beyond the symbolic, there is a
practical reason to impose a formal sentence term that exceeds the longest
(life, ``All Day'') that can be served. The
idea is that at some later time, sentences may be reduced in a sort of
batch-processed way: legislation, judicial ruling, parole laws, or a broad
executive commutation may reduce life sentences to as little as
time-already-served. The extra time in the formal sentence is partly an
imperfect way of assuring that hard time will be served.
- The copyright protection (CP) rule in some of the world today. In Life+50
countries, literary, dramatic, & musical work published, performed,
communicated, or recorded and offered for sale in an author's lifetime are
protected for the life of the author plus fifty years from the end of the year
of the author's death. This is approximately, but not exactly, forever.
The other common rule is Life+70. Can you guess how Life+70 differs from
- This is not explained at the Life+50 entry
(q.v.). The US and the EU follow the Life+70 rule and are pushing the
rest of the world to follow their lead.
- London International Financial Futures Exchange.
- Last In, First Out. Like a stack. Also a protocol for protecting
employees with seniority from lay-offs. Also one approach to asset accounting
- Logically Integrated Fortran Translator.
Hey! Is dis some kinda sophist'caded disrespect at solid,
family-values-upholding original-flavor FORTRAN? Huh?!!
- Lithographie, Galvanoformung, Abformung.
German for [X-ray] `Lithography, electroforming, [plastic] molding.' Not just
any combination of those processes, but
a particular ``micromachining''
technique important for the formation of microelectromechanical systems
- Lateral Insulated-Gate Bipolar Transistor.
See, for example:
R. Jayaraman, V. Rumennik, B. Singer, and E. H. Stupp, ``Comparison of
High-Voltage Devices for Power Integrated Circuits,'' IEDM Technical
Digest, 258-261 (1984).
- The offspring of a LIon and a tiGREss. Cf. tigon.
- Spanish adjective meaning `light,' in
weight or on one's feet, or `gentle' or `graceful.' You get the idea. From
the French léger. The female form
of ligero is tigona. Just kidding
-- it's ligera.
- Light Brigade
- The Light Brigade
the leading fiber optic training organization in North America having trained
over 16,000 people since 1987 in both public courses and custom classes
delivered at customer sites throughout the world. The company also writes
and produces fiber optic training videos and CD-Roms. The Light Brigade also
manufactures and distributes custom cable assemblies, fiber optic products and
``Light Brigade'' must have seemed a clever punning name, and it is
unquestionably memorable, but it works because most people do not remember the
true nature of the exploits of the famous ``Light Brigade.'' A famous poem by
Tennyson immortalized the dramatic action of this brigade, able to make
stunning rapid progress because it was light. Another consequence of its
light armament, and also of its reckless rapid advance, was heavy casualties.
The charge of the light brigade at Baklava on the Crimean peninsula, on October
25, 1854, was a pointless exercise in glorious suicide, as futile as Pickett's
Charge a decade later. French General
Bosquet commented ``C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre.''
- lightening rod
- A rod that is used to lighten, evidently. A creamer-impregnated swizzle
stick, probably. The locution is used by senior editors of
TNR and other illiterates.
- An interview with Alicia Silverstone was published by London's Sunday
Telegraph on March 12, 2000. Commenting on her body of work (actually, I
don't know what the context was, but I just wanted to write ``body of work''),
she had these observations on ``Clueless'':
Very deep. I think it was deep in the way that it was very light. I think
lightness has to come from a very deep place if it's true lightness.
I hope she can clear up my questions
about gravity during her next in-depth interview. I also look forward to
her cameo in ``SCUBA Diving Basics.'' She needs
to do more work in a bathing suit or with
something nonverbal in her mouth, so this will
Milan Kundera is another blond public intellectual. (A silver blond,
aetatis causa.) He also pondered lightness, but his thoughts were not
highly profound, and he didn't do anything for oceanography either (see
- Electrical discharge of clouds.
Here's a practical, nontechnical
discussion from the NOAA.
- Laser Interferometer
Gravitational-Wave Observatory. It's ``a facility dedicated to the
detection of cosmic gravitational waves and the harnessing of these waves for
scientific research. It consists of two widely separated installations within
the United States -- one in Hanford, Washington and the other in Livingston,
Louisiana -- operated in unison as a single observatory.'' As of 2006, it's
being constructed by Caltech and
MIT, and funded by NSF.
- Lateral Insulated-Gate (Bipolar) Transistor. Same as LIGBT.
- Leaf Initiated Join Parameter.
- Here are some representative examples of the use of like. Most of
the examples illustrate a new use of the word that I first noticed in the
1990's, in which it introduces an approximate quote or paraphrase, or perhaps
just invented speech that represents unspoken thoughts or attitudes.
- I pick up my guitar and I'm like... `gosh,
why can't I just play something. I want to play it perfectly off the bat...
- I think some people look at it like `Man, what am I gonna do when I'm
40?' And I'm like `Brother, I don't know.' I used to think that it would
be a good think to have a job that you work from your early twenties and by
the time you get to be 40, you're pretty well on your way.
- I went back there after I met Susan, at it was really weird. People
there... the `alternative type' people that saw me when I came back were
so excited that I had moved. And they were like `What's it like? What's
it like?,' you know? And I'm like it's so easy. Just move there! You
guys should go and get out of here!
- CL: The guy from Pavement came up to me, he's like, `You're so
brave.' I'm like, `Why?' He's like, `To cover a Bunnymen song,' he's
like, `I wouldn't have the nerve.' You know, and nobody, like, admits,
like, the Bunnymen were, like, the greatest band. Like in my marriage,
the compatibil... [sic] Like, at one point we were listening to KROQ,
and they were having one of their great, like, flashback weekends, and
Kurt was like,... and I was singing every word to, like, `The Killing
Moon,' and Kurt was like, `Man, this music you used to like is so...
ROMANTIC.' You know? I'm like, `Yeah, OK.'
[Glossarist's useful remark: in the early 90's sometime, Courtney Love and Hole
played a club in Buffalo and she pronounced herself disappointed in the moral
character of Buffalonians, although she phrased it differently.]
- Ron English: I'm basically a billboard pirate. According to the law
I'm the bad guy, but on a higher social plane I'm like the Robin Hood,
I'm like the good guy.
- Likes romantic walks on the beach.
- Personals ad cliché. Personals-ad copy editors have a macro so
they can enter this phrase in at most three keystrokes. Four keystrokes
in states with no beaches. Unique is <meta>-U. Sincere
is <meta>-S. There's a special key sequence for removing the words
When 2001: A Space
Odyssey was in production, Arthur C. Clarke made a remark to the effect
the MGM publicity department must have typewriters
with a single key that would type ``Never before, in the history of motion
pictures.'' 2001 was released in 1968. It's 2003. We still don't have
colonies on the moon or manned interplanetary expeditions, but we have achieved
keyboard shortcuts (and calmly uncooperative computers, but that is no news).
- Eye dialect for indifferently
articulated pronunciation of little.
- Literacy In Libraries Across America. A program, not a declarative
sentence. Was it successful? I don't know -- I haven't been to the library to
read the results.
- International League of
Antiquarian Booksellers / La Ligue Internationale de la Librairie Ancienne.
The ABAA is its national association for the US.
(Notice how the French version of the name is
librairie corresponding to the English booksellers? More of that
sort of situation is discussed at the
- Long Island Lighting COmpany.
- Lab for Integrated Learning
and Tech. At Illinois State.
``Serving the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business
9:00 AM - 4:30 PM Monday through Friday.''
- Lotus-Intel-Microsoft. (These companies have certain communication
formats for PC's in common.)
- Lima is a Spanish word, and you know
what that means... ¡Fiesta! ¡Fiesta de Polisemia!
[`Polysemy Party!'] Let's get some drinks and meet at
the next entry.
- The name in most varieties of Spanish for
the fruit called `lime' in English. The same word
can be used for the lime tree. A more specific name for the lime tree is
limero (although the same word applies to a person who sells limes).
Mexico uses different names for the lime and lemon: see
- The name in Spanish for the tool called
a `rasp' or `file' in English. To use that sort of file is limar, so
lima also means `he files.' (Here `he' is a generic third person. You
wouldn't want to be in he's shoes.) It's also a couple of other conjugated
forms of the same verb.
Incidentally, sandpaper (or emery paper, etc.) is lija (of uncertain
origin). To use sandpaper, of course, is lijar.
The English word file, for the tool mentioned here, is Germanic in
origin, and unrelated to the English word file borrowed from the
French fil and file. That's one
can of worms, to be opened later.
- The capital of Peru, and a common placename in the US. The Lima in
Indiana is pronounced LEE-muh, in a fair
English approximation to the Spanish name (and
coinciding with the English pronunciation of the Peruvian capital's name). The
name of the Lima in Ohio is pronounced LYE-muh, like the bean (in
The Lima in Ohio has ``City'' in its official name, but
with a population of something over 40,000 it's hardly any bigger than the
``Town'' I grew up in, which no one ever called a city. Whether one uses a
word like city or town depends on more than just population and zoning
ordinances. A city tends to be regarded as a slightly exceptional thing. You
can have a string of towns one right after the other, but people are not yet
used to the idea that many cities could sit cheek by jowl. So Lima, surrounded
by rural Ohio, is separate enough to be a city. Westfield, one of many
similar-size bedroom communities along the rail line west from New York City,
is a town.
The Lima in Indiana, incidentally, is not a municipality but a township. It's
a rectangle about five miles wide and four miles high. (On the map, that is.
I'm avoiding a more natural description while I reassess my capitalization
convention on compass directions.) It's along the Michigan border in Lagrange
County. Look, a picture is worth a thousand words. You want to know more,
look in Township Atlas of the United States, published by Andriot
Associates of McLean, Virginia, in 1979. Those are actually the associates of
John L. Andriot, compiler and editor of this wonderful reference. Anyway,
the radio stations in that part of Lagrange County, and people from around
there, use the placename about as everyone else uses the name of a town.
Elsewhere in Indiana, there's also a Peru.
Isabela Allende was born in Lima, Peru, in 1942. She lived in Chile until the
military coup that overthrew the president, her uncle Salvador Allende. She
left. Smart move; I know less prominent people who stayed. She must be the
most famous writer in Spanish now living in the US, though in recent years she
has been writing novels in English.
- Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae. Lessee, this probably
means `Alphabetized list of Icon Graphics for Mythological Classics.' I dunno, go check it out
and see. Oh, wait, here's a more
Hey, it takes up an entire shelf and it's mostly in foreign languages!
- A few green citrus fruits. The real lime, Citrus Aurantifolia,
grows throughout the tropics and in the Western hemisphere is common as far
North as Mexico. Until a hurricane did in the
main orchards in 1926, they were grown in the Florida
Keys, where Key Lime pie was invented. Another fruit, essentially a lemon
(Citrus Limon) hybrid, is called Tahiti lime or Bears lime (Citrus
Latifolia). This tastes like Key lime but is less tart. It's sold green
so you can tell it's not a lemon. Most lime sold in the US is Tahiti lime.
Let the State of Florida tell you more about tropical and
Another interesting thing about the Florida Keys is that the US states that
have prominent strings of islands are at the extreme geographic corners --
Alaska (Aleutian island chain), Florida
(Florida Keys), and Hawaii (Hawaii). Then again, maybe it's not so
interesting. You wouldn't expect Iowa to have a major island chain. A lot of
Atlantic coast states have lines of what some are pleased to call barrier
islands. See OBX.
- A bright light used for magic lanterns in the eighteenth century, generated
by calcium flares (sticks of CaO).
- Calcium Carbonate. As ``rocks'' go, it's pretty water-soluble. As ionic
salts go, it's not very soluble.
- [Chiefly British:] A pejorative noun meaning ``British'' or ``English.''
This word is an underappreciated feature of the English language. Somewhat
like sesquipedalian, it refers unfavorably to most of those people who
know and use the term. This is not normal. Does the
French language have a disparaging term for
Frenchmen? (It's a rhetorical question; don't interrupt.) Human languages do
not usually have a derogatory term for people in general: If one says, ``every
person can be bought,'' the derogation occurs in the sentence as a whole, but
there is no word that one could use to replace person that, standing
alone, would be recognized as pejorative and general. (But see
The word Limey originally referred only to British sailors, but was later
extended. (It was a reference to sailors' eating of citrus to prevent scurvy.
The Germans pioneered the practice of vitamin-C supplementation with
Sauerkraut. This was adopted by the British first; the switch to citrus
The word Limey ironically undercuts itself -- it's a weasel word to itself.
It'd be downright postmodern, if it weren't
so retrograde. Another class of words that may be regarded as self-denying,
in a contrived sort of way, are
heterological words like
- Light Intensity Modulation Method.
- Lotus-Intel-Microsoft Memory.
- English, short for LIMOusine.
- German, short for Limonade (`lemonade'). I guess if the
caddy is a lemon, that's what you must make. (This joke worked a bit better
when this entry and the previous one were integrated into a single confusing
entry for the unrelated English and German words.)
Well, that was based on what I learned long ago. Apparently though, the
meaning has drifted. Now Limo and Limonade both mean `fizzy
drink,' and if you mean lemonade you have to say Zitronen-Limonade
(literally `citrus lemonade').
- The Spanish word that general means `lemon.'
In Mexico and some parts of Central America (at least Guatemala), the word is
used for lime. Lime there seems to be much more popular and common than lemon.
I've read that the Mexican term for lemon is limón francés
(the second word means `French'). A few years ago (mid-aughts, I guess) asked
a couple of people at the local Mexican grocery store (Supermercado
Rosales) and they didn't seem aware of the term. The standard term in
Mexico and Guatemala seems to be limón amarillo (amarillo
is `yellow'). In the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, a lime is called a
lima. Some Mexicans and Guatemalans use lima for `lemon,'
completely inverting the usage elsewhere.
- A Spanish word meaning `cleans.' That is,
it's the third-person singular indicative present tense form of the verb
limpiar, meaning `to clean.'
The same word, or string, let's say, also functions as the female form of the
adjective `clean.' Note that the stress in limpia falls on the first
syllable. This is considered the penult (the penultimate syllable) because
the final ia is pronounced as an a with a palatalization of the
preceding consonant. In Spanish words with two or more syllables, the default
stress is on the penult if the final letter is s, n, or a vowel,
and on the ultima (final syllable) otherwise. An explicit accent (acento
gráfico), in the form of an acute accent on the vowel of the
stressed syllable, is used to indicate deviations.
Finally, limpia serves as the familiar (tú) singular
imperative. That is, ¡Límpialo! means `Clean it!' The
explicit accent occurs because the enclitic pronoun lo doesn't change
the location of the stress in the verb (such invariable stress is a general
pattern in Spanish).
The word limpia also occurs as the first element in various compound
nouns, in much the same way that cleaner (in English) occurs as the
final element. Here are but a few examples:
- limpiabarros: `boot scraper.' From barro, `mud.' A
doormat is a felpudo or estera, and there doesn't seem to
be much in the way of messy semantic overlap.
- limpiabotas: `shoeshine.' That is, a person who shines
shoes and boots (Spanish: botas). The term ``bootblack,'' has
been used, but not by me. I really don't know what the proper term
would be, these days, since the activity is considerably rarer. The
last time I personally saw a manned shoeshine station was in 1985 or
so, in a multistory mall in the Georgetown section of Washington. Back
in the 70's, when a group of us went to film bits of a movie at the old
Newark Airport (it was part of a book report
for 10th-grade English), there were some shoeshine boys in the upper
viewing deck who wanted to get into our movie, and they shone my shoes
and Doug's sneakers (Norman was the cameraman, so his footwear didn't
get shined). I mention this to point out that one mustn't take too
straitlaced (love that word) a view of what a limpiabotas does.
But don't let him polish your sandals.
- limpiadientes: `toothpick.'
From dientes, `teeth.' ``Palillo de dientes'' is rather
more common, though (palillo is a diminutive form of
- limpiaparabrisas: `windshield wiper.' This one has
its own entry, because
it's an official ``queer Spanish
It's obvious that the element limpia in the examples above is related to
the lexeme limpiar, and it happens to coincide with three identical
forms. If one had to choose one of those and say it occurs in the compound,
the indicative form (meaning `it cleans') seems to make sense, but it's not
necessary to make this choice.
Earlier I implied that the familiar second-person singular verb forms in
Spanish are associated with tú (singular nominative `you').
That's true in most of Spanish-speaking world, but not in Argentina and
Uruguay, and not in most of Central America and western Colombia. There the
familiar forms are associated with a pronoun vos, and a different set of
conjugations. The imperative form for vos is limpiá.
There's a lot more to the various second-person forms, but here I just want to
round out the discussion of explicit accents in Spanish. As noted above,
accentuation is used to indicate stress. The default rules make it unnecessary
to indicate stress in the majority of words, and an acute accent is used to
mark the default behavior. In addition, accents are used to make semantic
distinctions among very common homophones. For example, tú means
`you' (in the restricted sense detailed above) and tu means `your.'
In the sentence ``Sí sé si se acentúa'' (meaning
`yes I know if it is accented'), sí means `yes' and si
`if,' while sé means `I know' and se is a reflexive
pronoun used to construct a kind of passive voice (as discussed at the
In the preceding examples of accents making a semantic distinction, the words
distinguished were monosyllables, so there was no unstressed syllable to
distinguish from the marked one. Semantic accent marking also occurs in
multisyllable words. For example... wait a second: is it really possible I
never explained this before? I think I'm going to hold off until I'm sure I
- A Spanish masculine noun meaning `windshield
eh wiper.' Sorrry, I meen dee wiper off de-- okay enough of that. It's an
official ``queer Spanish word.'' The
word is evidently constructed from
limpia (`it cleans') and
- Laboratory Information Management System[s]. Perkin-Elmer would like
to sell you one.
- Laser Ionization Mass Spectroscopy. Just like
SIMS, but with laser light rather than an ion beam doing the ablating.
Works in laser ionization (LI) mode (implicitly--ionization of bulk material)
and laser desorption (LD) mode.
- LINAC, linac
- LINear ACcelerator.
- A combination of LINseed and flAX that fuels Google's PC's. It is gathered free at nearby open space
preserves. Lin/ax kernels continue to be at the core of Google's open space
- Lithium Niobate. Nonlinear (optics) crystal.
- Lindemann criterion
- An empirical observation about the melting temperature. The condition is
that the mean-square vibrational displacement of the atoms in the solid is 10%
of the nearest-neighbor distance at the melting point. This was described by
F.A. Lindemann Physikalische Zeitschrift (vol. 11, pp. 609-612)
in 1910. The term (viz., Lindemann criterion) is now applied to
improved forms of the criterion, such as the form proposed by J.J. Gilvarry in
Physical Review vol. 102, pp. 308ff (1956).
The Lindemann criterion is also applied -- as appropriate -- to the sublimation
point rather than the melting point.
- LIncoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (Program). In New Mexico.
- line frequency
- DC power distribution was very popular in the
US until the Chicago Columbian
Exposition in 1893, and when
Niagara Falls went online at 25 Hz in 1895.
After that Edison had lost the
argument, and the only question was what frequency. Steinmetz at GE, and Tesla at
Westinghouse, independently decided 60 Hz was best (lamps didn't care
much, for motors the decision had to do with motor speeds, number of poles,
etc.). Since Westinghouse (and GE as licensee) had clear title to important
patents, they dominated the business and 60 Hz became standard throughout
North America. In Europe it took
longer. In 1918, London alone
had ten different frequencies and twenty-four different voltages.
All or most of Europe eventually settled on 50 Hz
(3000 cycles per minute). Much of the rest of the world ended up with the
frequency determined by colonial or neocolonialist or whatever control
(I.e., 50 Hz in Australia, Africa and most of Asia, 60 Hz in
the Philippines and some South American countries -- Brazil and most of the
countries with a Pacific coast, IIRC.) Korea and Taiwan are at 60 Hz.
Japan ended up weird, with one part at 50 Hz
and another at 60 Hz.
The wiring FAQ has some info on how delivered power (at least to distribution
substations) is three-phase, and on voltages.
The reason for the switch from DC to AC was fairly
well known, I thought: In order to have voltage supply at least approximately
independent of the number of customers, customers must represent loads in
parallel. If you think of the distribution system and users as
parts of a voltage divider, you see that as you increase the number of loads
in parallel, the largest fraction of the voltage is dropped by the
distribution lines. The solution was thicker cables and more closely spaced
dynamos. Edison and backers had all the patents free and clear, and were
perfectly happy to continue in this approach.
The alternative was AC power, which could be transmitted at high
voltage and stepped down by transformers. Edison tried valiantly to kill
this technology, particularly by raising the safety issue. (Although as
presented, the concern was deceptive, it was nevertheless true that in
practice, transmission lines would carry very high voltages and be more
dangerous.) The DC partisans brought their safety case to the New York
state legislature at the time when a more-humane execution method was
sought, and painted such a picture of instant death that the legislature
bought the first electric chair (AC, of course). (A ghastly bungled horror,
BTW; the condemned not only smoked, he also continued to gasp.)
A practical problem in AC distribution, however, was the absence of a good
motor. Nikola Tesla, motivated at first by a desire to create a brushless
motor, came up with the idea of an induction motor that ran on AC. His
asynchronous design developed high torque even when starting; with this and
his complete design for a polyphase power system, he revolutionized the
industry. Westinghouse, who had made his money from the design of the air
brake for trains (and an early evangelist for standardization) had already
licensed some European designs for part of an AC distribution grid, and he
soon bought Tesla's patents for a cool million. That brings us close to 1893.
In the days of DC, a few miles was "long distance." The first
customer for Niagara Power, in 1895, was (what became) ALCOA, 22 miles
away in Buffalo.
- French for `ingot.' Borrowed into
Spanish as lingote. There are two main
relationships possible between Fr. lingot and Eng. ingot: Either
the French word is derived from the English one, or it is not. The first
possibility has the advantage of a straightforward Anglo-Saxon etymology and a
similarly constructed word (Einguss) in German, but suffers from the
difficulty of accounting for the initial el. No one ever seems to mention (I
mean, the major etymological dictionaries don't, and I haven't checked the
primary literature) the possibility that l'ingot might have been
reinterpreted as lingot, or à l'ingot as au lingot.
Those who deem the insertion of an initial el an insuperable problem generally
assume that the French word (with a Romance origin) was adopted into English,
and don't see the loss of the el as a problem in English. (I suppose
lingot might have been misunderstood as l'ingot. Why does this
sound familiar?) The leading etymon candidate on the French side is
Latin lingua (`tongue'; a typical ingot looks
vaguely like one, and when the mold first starts to fill, the metal looks like
an extending tongue). There are some detailed technical problems with this,
including (as I understand it) the fact that in the process of gaining a
Romance -ot, the word would be expected also to have exchanged its i for an e
or a. Alternative Romance derivations have their alternative technical
problems. Similar sorts of problems have been adduced for the Anglo-Saxon
- Professional and (what is almost the same) academic linguists are often
anxious that you understand that knowing a lot of languages is not what
linguists are about -- that a linguist may study a lot of languages and may
know things about a lot of different languages, but needn't be able to speak
any of them. I'm okay with that. (And I'm more okay with that than with many
linguists' belief that what they do qualifies as science. Some do linguists do
science, many don't.) I do, however, want to point out that what they're
trying to do is corral the meaning of the word ``linguist.'' For a long time
it has been a synonym of polyglot. Their effort is prescriptive, like any
other attempt to command language usage. Prescriptivism -- describing how
language should be rather than how it is -- is something that linguists
generally claim to regard as foolish or vain or in some other way bad. (This
attitude is part of the reason why linguistic enlightenment is one of the great
disasters that befell language education in
There is a synonym for linguist that does not, at least in principle, also
have the sense of polyglot. That word is philologist, which deserves its own
entry that I haven't written yet.
- This is the fundamental science, since everything that can be expressed can
be expressed in some language. (I understand that there's a contrary
opinion, but they have failed to articulate their position to my satisfaction,
so they're wrong.) The MSU English Department has a
page of useful
language and linguistics links.
the University of Rochester
There is an Ethnologue
Database of world languages.
Some translation and language information is available at
There's a site associated with
The Linguist List.
- German adverb meaning `on the left' or `to the left' (politically or not).
This particular word doesn't seem to have any cognates outside of High German.
Incidentally, the German word corresponding to the English gulf is
Golf. Some years ago, in fact, VW sold
a four-wheeled vehicle also called the Golf. What ``High German''? These guys
must think they're Highlanders.
- Leichter Innovativer Nahverkehrs-Triebwagen. `Lightweight
Innovative Short-range Motor Coach.'
- Freeware unix-like operating system for PC's originally written by Linus
and code are available from the official
site as well as the
Linux Documentation Project.
Here's another site. There's even a dedicated host for Linux International
This site discusses the pronunciation as well as other matters.
- Laser-Induced Optical Device.
- LIterature ONline. ``[A] fully
searchable library of more than 350,000 works of English and American poetry,
drama and prose, 192 full-text literature journals, and other key criticism and
reference resources'' as of late 2006. Also called the Chadwyck database.
Coverage tails off after 1924, on account of a little something yclept copyright.
- ``Lion King''
- A Disney animation based without acknowledgment on the Japanese anime series of the seventies,
White Lion.'' Perpetuates an unfair characterization of hyenas.
At least the big cats are not vegetarians, as in the Japanese original.
- lion hunting
- The mathematical theory of lion hunting was developed informally at
Princeton in 1937. Dinner-table results were extended by Frank Smithies and
Ralph P.Boas, Jr., and published under the pseudonym of Pondiczery.
The most famous method was that of inversive geometry:
``We place a spherical cage in the desert, enter it, and lock it. We
perform an inversion with respect to the cage. The lion is then in the
interior of the cage, and we are outside.''
It was published in American Mathematical Monthly. Readers were
appreciative of the careful concern for such practical details as having
hunters and hunted on different sides of the cage.
The name Pondiczery, spelling anglicized to Pondicherry, occurs as the name of
a rich Indian prince in Charlie and
the Chocolate Factory. That's in chapter three. In chapter four,
radical measures against chocolate-industrial
espionage are described. How does Grandpa Joe know all this stuff?
- Once, after giving a lecture on statistical mechanics, Professor
Arthur S. Wightman was approached by a student in the class, who asked
him about Louisville's Theorem.
``Louisville's Theorem''? I am not aware of any theorem by that name.
The Louisville Theorem. You just proved it during class!
Yeah. The one about how the volume of a phase space region is conserved
under Hamiltonian evolution.
Oh! You mean Liouville's Theorem!
[In the preceding reconstruction of dialogue, the student's cogency has been
enhanced for brevity.]
Less mild spelling correction is described at the Dr. entry. Anyone who came here from the Flourine entry might now, having read the above
cautionary tale, wish to visit the F entry. And if you
came from the Furrier Series entry,
you're looking for Fourier Series. We don't have an entry for that yet, but in
search engines, ``spelling counts.''
- Large Internal (data) Packets.
- Lightning Instrument Package. Used in the CAMEX.
- Roughly speaking, the nonpolar chemicals typically found in living
organisms. That is, fats and oils,
waxes, most things that feel oily to the touch, and quite a few that don't.
(That is not the same as things that feel slimy to the
touch! The mucous coating of the throat and other internal passages exposed
to air is highly polar.) For low molecular-weight compounds, ``polar'' and
``nonpolar'' might be approximately synonymous with water- and oil-soluble,
respectively, but this is not true for tissues. [If it were, we would say
with the Wicked Witch of the West (movie version
only!): ``I'm melting! Melting!'' Of course, what she really meant was
dissolving, but in the circumstances, this inaccuracy might be forgiven
even a witch. As Saki wrote in The Comments of Maung Ka: ``A little
inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation.'' In the preceding quote,
tons was probably not intended to be understood literally. You know, on
second thought, it wasn't really dissolving either. It was some sort of
dematerialization, a slow-motion bottom-up implosion -- almost as if she were
descending into a hole in the stage.]
In practice, ``lipid'' is a catch-all term intended to include everything
that isn't a protein or a
carbohydrate. To define lipids more
positively, if that is the term, one may say that most lipids are fats and
oils. Fats and oils, as materials, consist overwhelmingly of chemicals
called triglycerides. Other common
lipids are fatty acids, steroids, some
vitamins, and phosphoglycerides.
The Hormel Institute studies
Lipids play an indirect rôle in the microelectronic device fabrication
process, because without them there'd be no one alive to staff the
fab line, see?
- A ``letter-dropped'' text. A text with one or more letters of the alphabet
completely absent. It's not very challenging if you do this with one of the
less common letters. The most famous lipogram in English is Gadsby,
subtitled A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter ``E.''
It was written by Ernest Vincent Wright, initially longhand, and eventually
with the E of his typewriter disabled. (BC-era
spell-checking!) It seems his main motivation was to show that it could be
done; another of his books was The Fairies That Run the World and How They
Do It (1903). (He did, however, express the sick hope that ``[t]he book
may prove a valuable aid to school children in English composition.'') The
book was reportedly written in 165 days, but a lot of the numbers associated
with this achievement are a bit uncertain. The book was published in 1939 (the
introduction is dated February that year) -- or maybe ``circa 1939'' -- but whatever the case, Wright
reportedly died the day it was published, age 66 or, um, 67. He excluded
abbreviations like Mr., since ``for those words, if read aloud, plainly
indicate the E in their orthography.'' He excluded Mrs. for the same reason,
though I don't think anyone still read that aloud as ``mistress'' by then. He
even excluded all the numbers between 6 and 30 (inclusive). The entire
horrifying achievement is available on line.
Georges Perec, who was circa aet. 3 when
Wright's inspirational story of youth was published, undertook similar but
longer project in French. La Disparition
(1969) was written without any e (which is the most common letter in French, as
it is in English, where only about one third of words are e-less). With these
projects, the question one is bound to ask, and bound not to receive an
adequate answer to, is ``Why?'' Well, he liked word games. The book grew out
of his involvement with the famous experimental writers' group Oulipo. At
least we can say definitively that Perec (1936-1982) survived the stunt. (FWIW, one of the many mildly interesting and largely
pointless foibles of Oulipo is that published lists of its membership did not
distinguish between living and dead members.)
Perec wrote another, less well-known lipogram: the short story ``Les
Revenentes,'' which excludes all vowels other than e.
Perhaps the most heroic lipogram is the translation of a lipogram from another
language. Gilbert Adair's lipogrammatic translation of La Disparition
published in October 1994 by HarperCollins (postdated to 1995). It couldn't be
titled The Disappearance, of course; it was A Void. The title
character is Anton Vowl, who goes missing. (In the original, the character is
named Anton Voyl; voyelle is French for `vowel.')
- A conjugated protein whose prosthetic group is a lipid. Less obscurely:
a protein which is bonded to a lipid. This is the principal means of transporting lipids in the
blood. Due to the great variety of lipoproteins, ordinary chromatographies
and electrophoresis cannot determine precisely the lipoprotein content
in blood samples -- chemical characterization is laborious. Instead, blood
tests report back the fraction in different ``density'' ranges: sometimes VLDL, and LDL,
HDL -- very low, low, and high ``density.''
It is now the common and intellectually slovenly practice of the medical
profession to refer to the whole class of lipoproteins by the term cholesterol,
which is the name of a completely different
chemical which does not happen, itself, to be a lipoprotein. Imagine:
premeds take a minimum of two years of college chemistry. Sheesh!
Usage: ``We won't feel comfortable until we get total cholesterol below
200.'' [Notice the use of the ``medical we,'' a first and second person
singular personal pronoun in Hospitalese, construed plural.]
- Logical Inferences Per Second. Thousands is
KLIPS. That reminds me -- I have to trim my
- Laboratorio Integrato di Robotica
Avanzata. Italian `Laboratory for Integrated Advanced Robotics.' Called
the ``LIRA-Lab'' -- the only official AAP
pleonasm I can think of. It might have something to do with the fact that,
until Italy adopted the euro, its currency was the lira.
``LIRA-Lab is now located in Villa Bonino, a beautiful XVII century building
with frescos and old slate portals, surrounded by a nice garden with palms and
- Italian word for pound, from libra. (Plural
form lire: a regular feminine noun.) The
official currency of Italy until the adoption of
the euro. Because a lower-case el is easily
mistaken for the digit 1, the lira currency was normally abbreviated with a
Through most of the post-WWII era, the lira had a
value of roughly 0.1 cents of a US dollar. When I was there in 1989, you could
still find a few coins in one- and five-cent (i.e. cents of a lira)
denominations. If you needed a custom-made washer, I guess you could drill a
hole through the center. Alas, where can one be a millionaire so easily any
more? One way to find out is to read magazine
covers. Archivos del Presente, an international-affairs door-stop
published in Buenos Aires, lists its price in the various countries where it
allegedly circulates. For Year 8, no. 30:
- Argentina $15
- Uruguay $200
- Brasil R$28
- Chile $7500
- Long Island Rail Road. Operates the
commuter railways from Long Island to New York City (NYC). Was privately owned,
now part of the New York MTA.
If you noticed that Queens is on Long Island and also, technically,
if you insist, part of New York City, beware: noticing things
like that is one of the seven warning signs of Captiousness. Treatment
is available; send money and we may be able to help you.
Yes, they really spell Rail Road as two words, but it took Mark two emails
to convince me.
- liquid measure, traditional
1 chopin = 2 gills
1 pint = 2 chopins
1 quart = 2 pints
1 pottle = 2 quarts
1 gallon = 2 pottles
1 peck = 2 gallons
1 demibushel = 2 pecks
1 bushel = 2 demibushels
1 kilderkin = 2 bushels
1 barrel = 2 kilderkins (a barrel is a firkin)
1 hogshead = 2 barrels
1 pipe = 2 hogsheads
1 tun = 2 pipes
Note that if a pint is a pound, then a tun, at 2048 pints, is about a ton.
Note also that at 512 lb., the hogshead is perhaps optimistically defined.
Traditional French liquid measures, when still used in the seventeenth
century, seem to have been about twice the size of the corresponding
English measures (I think the weight measures were comparable): a
chopine was 16 oz., or two English chopins. Half a chopine
was a septier (8 oz.), and a quarter chopine was a posson
or, confusingly, poisson. This according to Elizabeth David: Harvest
of the Cold Months: The Social History of Ice and Ices (Penguin, 1994),
- Legislative Information System (of the US Library
- Library/Information Science. There's that weasel word science
again, this time playing coy about Library.
- Lost In Space.
- Large Installation System Administration. Name of annual
conference sponsored by USENIX SAGE.
- Laser Interferometer Space Antenna.
A space-based gravitational-wave observatory, jointly sponsored by the
ESA and NASA.
- LIght-Switching Array.
- LiSrAlF6. Lithium Strontium Aluminum Fluoride. With chromium
doping (Cr3+:LiSrAlF6), this is a vibronic laser
- A town in
Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine,
Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina,
North Dakota, Ohio (only two counties;
cf. Rome), Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Seventeen states.
- Lost In Space Fannish AlliaNce.
- Line Impedance Stabilization Network[s].
- LISP, Lisp
- LISt Processing language.
- Listen to your heart.
- Favorite saying of the ventiloquist crotch.
- Gendered administrator of a mailing list (like a
ListProc or LISTSERV, infra).
- A brand of mailing list software from CREN. (ListProc home here. Useful user documentation here.)
If there's a listing of listprocs from the vendor, I guess it's in the
- A brand of mailing list software. The
term is a registered trademark owned by L-Soft international, Inc.. The latter serves
a Catalist (L-Soft SM),
``the official catalog of LISTSERV lists.'' They only list the (14K as of
summer 1997) public LISTSERVs on the internet (out of 55K total), omitting an
unknown number on intranets, and also excluding mailing lists from sites
running ListProc (from CREN), freeware
packages like MAJORDOMO, the commercial package Lyris and any of the free
web-based mailing list servers (a few are listed in the mailing list entry).
(As of Nov. 15, 1999, those numbers are 27,842 public lists out of 147,082
For other mailing list indices and search tools, see the general mailing list entry.
As a matter of usage, although other software is common, ``listserv'' has
become an alternative generic term for mailing
list or mailing-list software.
- Literature. Also, alas, litterature. To be fair, the Italian cognate is spelled with a double tee. But
if you start being that fair, you end up turning a blind eye to independance
because it looks like the French spelling. (In
fact, it's a bilingual misspelling: the French word is
- Library and Information Technology
Association. A division of the ALA.
- Lithium Tantalate. Laser substrate material. Ferroelectric above 400
- LITerary-CRITicism. Adjective and
noun (the noun is often also hyphenated).
- Literary History of England, A
- The title of a work edited by Albert Croll Baugh that I cite elsewhere in
this glossary. It's a single large volume divided into four books with five
original authors. For reference purposes, it may be handy to list the major
Book I. The Middle Ages
Part I. The Old English Period ... pp. 3-105
(to 1100; by Kemp Malone)
Part II. The Middle English Period ... pp. 109-312
(1100-1500; by Albert C. Baugh)
Book II. The Renaissance ... pp. 315-696
(1485-1660; by Tucker Brooke)
Book III. The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century ... pp. 697-1108
(1660-1789; by George Sherburn)
Book IV. The Nineteenth Century and After ... pp. 1109-1605
(1789-1939; by Samuel C. Chew)
This describes the first edition (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1948).
It was published the same year by Routledge & Kegan Paul of London, and
in a second US edition by Prentice-Hall of Englewood Cliffs, NJ, also in 1948.
The cutoff date of 1939 reflects the original intention of bringing the history
near the present; publication was delayed by the war. A subsequent edition
(1967) added authors and pages to books II-IV, but I probably won't cite that.
The books were also published as separate volumes.
- Lit. Hum.
- Literae Humaniores. See Greats.
- lithopedion, lithopaedion
- Stone baby. From the Greek, `stone child.'
A calcified fetus that results from an ectopic pregnancy. If the fetus corpse
is too large to absorb, the body calcifies it as a way to protect itself from
infection. An extremely rare event.
In its January 24, 2000
issue, the American Cynic reported that doctors in Taiwan operating
on a 76-year-old woman found a twenty-gram lithopaedion from a miscarriage the
woman suffered when she was 27. The Cynic reported that
It's an extremely rare event, recorded only three times before in medical
history. ... The earliest recorded case of a lithopaedion dates to 1582,
when a rocky fetus at least a quarter-century old was found in a French woman's
Stone Baby is the name of Joolz Denby's maiden effort as a novelist.
Every book is a labor of love.
This was intended to be a humorous entry, but I hadn't gotten around to
finishing it. Until I do, I'll mention that in reality, and in contradiction
of an enormous number of news reports, lithopaedia are not quite so rare,
occurring in about 0.0045 percent of pregnancies.
- A figure of speech in which an emphatic statement is implied by the
negation of its (unemphatic) opposite. An unacceptable example would be
``a is not less than b'' for ``a is greater than b.'' Understatement is an
even more important aspect of litotes than negation. ``a is not less than b''
is a litotes for ``a is much greater than b.''
Isn't it amazing how the use of abstraction and mathematical language can take
all the interest out of a thing? I could have used the example of ``Toto, I
have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.'' Then
I would have pointed out that this was not litotes if you regard Dorothy's
statement as tentative, and definitely litotes if you think she really
suspected that they were very far from Kansas. However, if I had used this
example first instead of the boring example involving a and b, you might still
be reading this entry. I guess I used the dry example to speed you on your
way. Don't mention it! If Judy Garland had been listening to the background
music, she'd have realized immediately that they were somewhere over the
BTW, litotes is the singular form. The plural form is litotes.
Don't get them mixed up! The original Greek term equivalent to litotes
was apophasis (don't use it!) and it
got mixed up with itself.
For more on being very far from someplace, see the I
- A French dry measure, used by retailers of pulses, millet, salt, etc. in
seventeenth-century France. A litron of
flour was 12 oz., according to François Pierre La Varenne, in his
Nouveau Confiturier, qui Enseigne la manière de bien faire toutes
sortes de Confitures, tant sèches que liquides, et autres delicatesses
de bouche, published in 1650. What kind of ounces? Ahh, mon ami,
now you know why the French adopted the metric system.
- ``Computer technology creates the only self-cleaning litter box!''
according to the print ads. COMTRAD
Industries also uses the words ``No Questions Asked'' in its advertising.
I wouldn't either. The LitterMaid
advertisement shows a cat hunched in a refractory posture, scowling with
growing alarm at a gadget-mad owner (out-of-picture, stage right). The
gifs don't do it justice. See the hardcopy, p. 161
of the June 9, 1996 New York Times
- little A
- Aeronautics at NaSA.
- little green men
- It was that or magenta grass. Those old color TV's are difficult to
- See LTZ below.
- Litz wire
- From German Litzendraht, `braided wire.'
Special wire for high-frequency applications. The problem solved is
that with ordinary wire, the skin depth at high frequency restricts
current to a thin outer layer. The current-carrying capacity of ordinary
wire in these conditions increases only linearly with circumference or
radius, which is to say only as the square root of the area or nominal
(It also decreases as the inverse of the skin depth, or as the -½
power of the frequency.)
Litz wire consists of many fine insulated conducting filaments intended to
be not significantly larger in radius than the skin depth. If these
filaments were parallel or merely twisted together, however, it would not
solve the skin depth difficulty: in such a configuration, the magnetic field
and Faraday effect of all the separate wires would add constructively, so
that only the outer layer of filaments would conduct. Therefore, an
additional aspect of Litz wire is a braiding which brings all filaments to
the surface periodically and which reduces the vectorial B-field sum in any
- Line Interface Unit.
- LIUC, Liuc
- Libero Istituto Universitario Carlo
Cattaneo. Also Università Carlo Cattaneo. At
Castellanza - Varese. For other free universities, see FU yourself.
- Laborers' International Union of North
America. Referred to as Laborers' rather than by acronym. Founded in 1903
as the International Hod Carriers and Building Laborers Union. Membership over
800,000 as of early 2004. ``Binational'' (Canadian and US) would be more
precise than ``international,'' if this map of its organizational
regions is any indication.
- Link Integrity Verification.
(current-voltage). A simultaneous (``double y-axis'') plot of luminescence and
voltage versus current. Common for laser diodes.
This has nothing to do with the chemical phenomenon of
- Light-Induced Voltage Alteration. I've seen the woman's name spelled
- liver of sulphur
- A name common in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century for the solid
obtained by heating sulfur and potassium carbonate
(K2CO3) together in a closed vessel. In composition, it
was a mix of potassium polysulfides.
- * Liverpuddle
- Diminutive or affectionate form of Liverpool, after pool <--> puddle.
Completely unattested usage, but confidently (not to say fatuously) inferred
from the gentilicial noun Liverpudlian. There are other gentilicial
nouns for Liverpudlians, such as Scouse.
The fab four were Liverpudlian.
The liver is an organ with many functions, including the recovery of iron
(vide Hb) from worn-out blood cells. Back in
the days when bleeding or `leeching' a patient was among the lesser tortures
performed by members of the medical profession (who were in fact often called
there was a need for large-scale leech production. This was done in large
pools filled with leeches. Old horses not eaten or turned to glue
were pushed (not led!) into these pools and quickly died by exsanguination.
That's one way that large mammals brought down by hyenas die: the hyenas
pack-attack and rip open the underbelly, and the animals go into shock
as they're disemboweled. This is a nicer and probably a quicker way to
go than being killed by a lion. Lions typically take the animal around
the neck and wait for it to suffocate if they haven't broken its neck.
I know why I didn't go into biology.
I suppose none of this is etymologically relevant to the name of Liverpool,
but so what?
In one of his books (The Periodic Table, maybe), Primo Levi described
how paint left too long in the can forms a soft solid. The process is
And now, Shock! Indignation!. It turns out, as
you may see for yourself, that the Liverpuddle neologism is not so neo.
- A bluish-black color, like a good day-old bruise. I know, I know: you
thought it meant red, or pale, or angry. And the dictionary agrees with you.
Fine. In Latin, the word lividus meant
`black-and-blue.' That's what livid originally meant in English.
The word was used figuratively, in phrases like ``livid with anger' or loosely,
as in `livid [i.e., darkened but not in a blush] with fear.' As a
result, for various users of the language, livid came to mean
crimson (the imagined color of anger) or furious or ashen
or pale. As these meanings propagated, dictionaries came to list them.
On the facts as listed in the preceding paragraph there is general agreement,
but beyond, the descriptivists and the prescriptivists part company. The
descriptivists will argue that the lexicographers' work is descriptive and
not normative. The prescriptivists say ``you blithering idiots! If your scruples
prevent you from from reaching out the ink-stained hand of hope for the poor
wretches floundering among dictionary pages in search of knowledge and
guidance, how dare you tell the lexicographer his business!?'' A dictionary
cannot help but be normative: it lists only the senses it can find in its
source corpus, so it already uses a coarse measure of frequency to bias the
meanings listed, and then confounds the process by inconsistent and inaccurate
indications (obs., rare, arch.). And a dictionary is prescriptive by default
-- it can't help but be: this is how people use it. The only question is not
whether to be prescriptive, but what criteria to use.
As this balanced presentation clearly demonstrates, the prescriptivists have
the full force of reason on their side. If you want further proof, however,
consider this: among academics and all university humanities-type people,
descriptivism is dominant and prescriptivism is considered discredited.
Now that you are completely convinced of the truth of the prescriptivist
position, you want to know what criteria to use. Fortunately, I will tell
you. It is not straightforward, however, but requires the application of
considered judgement. Rome wasn't built in one glossary entry, you
understand? You don't unnerstand? I mean SEND MONEY, dammit! The oaks of
wisdom don't bloom in a freakin' desert, you know.
Okay, okay. Here's a light drizzle of the wisdom storm that will drench you
when you subscribe. A major purpose of prescriptive semantics is efficiency,
and one principle of efficiency resembles a statement of Occam's razor:
Thou shalt not multiply meanings unnecessarily.
Say, for example, you had a word that meant red, grey, blue, black, and white,
and the meaning couldn't be determined from context. Such a word is useful
for communicating that the speaker isn't sure what he means to say. Now we
apply the second Occam-like principle:
Thou shalt not multiply words unnecessarily.
As it happens, we already have plenty of words that communicate a variety of
different kinds of personal confusion on the part of the speaker, such as
alterity, deconstrudle (that's the
prescriptivist spelling, not the descriptivist one), dimension, discourses,
and parameter, and, uh, various sorts of filled
After further impartial and careful analysis too subtle to describe for free,
the certain conclusions are drawn that
- Conventional expressions like ``livid with anger'' are to be
retained for the use of the uncreative, but in these expressions,
livid is not to be regarded as having an independent meaning. That
is, ``livid with fear'' means about the same as ``ashen-pale from
fear,'' but livid does not have a productive sense `ashen'
that can be applied in new phrases.
- In certain restricted cases, livid can be used as if
in the mistaken sense crimson, as an intentional malapropism,
to suggest ignorance in an ironic way. This use requires a valid
and current literary license.
- In all other cases, livid describes the bluish-black of
recently bruised skin.
You're welcome. You can send the check blank, but don't forget to sign.
- living wage
- A term allegedly coined by a Catholic theologian, the Rev. John A. Ryan.
He certainly popularized the term, publishing a book by that title in 1906.
- According to the Watts' Dictionary of Chemistry (1892):
The application of water to solid mixtures, for the purpose of extracting the