Wednesday, February 10, 2016

SHANE's Excellent New Words: Cupidity, with an aside by Ambrose Bierce.

Welcome to another installment of "SHANE's Excellent New Words," a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

But why new words?

It's because a healthy vocabulary isn't about trying to show you're smarter than the rest of them. To the contrary, it's about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one's pay grade or station in life.

Even municipal corporate attorneys and board of works gatekeepers are eligible for this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, for those of us compelled to witness the inexorable decline in our property values owing to the fallacy of the one-way downtown pass-through interstate, all we have is time on our hands -- moments enough to learn something.

This week, Shane's new word is cupidity. Cupidity's seemingly most obvious connection is with Valentine's Day, realm of Cupid, and accordingly, you'll sometimes see "cupidity" used in the context of love and romance.

However, cupidity more generally implies a zealous desire to possess money or material wealth.



1. eager or excessive desire, especially to possess something; greed; avarice.

Origin of cupidity 

1400-50; late Middle English cupidite (< Middle French) < Latin cupiditās, equivalent to cupid (us) eager, desirous ( cup (ere) to desire + -idus -id) + -itās -ity

Note the use of "cupidity" near the end of this wonderful dictionary and illustrative poem.

COMMONWEALTH, n. An administrative entity operated by an incalculable multitude of political parasites, logically active but fortuitously efficient.

This commonwealth's capitol's corridors view,
So thronged with a hungry and indolent crew
Of clerks, pages, porters and all attaches
Whom rascals appoint and the populace pays
That a cat cannot slip through the thicket of shins
Nor hear its own shriek for the noise of their chins.
On clerks and on pages, and porters, and all,
Misfortune attend and disaster befall!
May life be to them a succession of hurts;
May fleas by the bushel inhabit their shirts;
May aches and diseases encamp in their bones,
Their lungs full of tubercles, bladders of stones;
May microbes, bacilli, their tissues infest,
And tapeworms securely their bowels digest;
May corn-cobs be snared without hope in their hair,
And frequent impalement their pleasure impair.
Disturbed be their dreams by the awful discourse
Of audible sofas sepulchrally hoarse,
By chairs acrobatic and wavering floors --
The mattress that kicks and the pillow that snores!
Sons of cupidity, cradled in sin!
Your criminal ranks may the death angel thin,
Avenging the friend whom I couldn't work in.

-- as quoted by Ambrose Bierce in "The Devil's Dictionary"

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