Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Welcome to another installment of SHANE'S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

But why new words? Why not the old, familiar, comforting words?

It's because a healthy vocabulary isn't about trying to show rental property owners you're smarter than 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 are eligible for this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, for those of us watching as the mayor advocates a doggie dumpie park atop what amounts to a Native American church, all we really have is time on our hands -- moments enough for us to learn something.

As with hagiography last week, a prime motivator for considering the word "elegiac" is strictly personal, as I've been known to mispronounce both of them. More on that shortly.

As a noun, elegy is a "poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead." Strictly speaking, elegiac is an adjective denoting the quality of an elegy.


[el-i-jahy-uh k, -ak, ih-lee-jee-ak]


1. used in, suitable for, or resembling an elegy.
2. expressing sorrow or lamentation: elegiac strains.
3. Classical Prosody. noting a distich or couplet the first line of which is a dactylic hexameter and the second a pentameter, or a verse differing from the hexameter by suppression of the arsis or metrically unaccented part of the third and the sixth foot.

Origin of elegiac 

1575-85; (< Middle French) < Latin elegīacus < Greek elegeiakós. See elegy, -ac

The written pronunciation doesn't really capture it. Listening to the audio, I'd render it el-i-JAI-ik. Concurrently, the British Dictionary offers what seems to me a clearer take.

1. resembling, characteristic of, relating to, or appropriate to an elegy
2. lamenting; mournful; plaintive

I'm not interested in formal elegiac couplets. Rather, it is the mournful and plaintive quality, often in the context of a song, film or work or art -- maybe even a gesture or expression. An example:

"Enola/Alone: Quite simply, probably the greatest Manics single that never was -- an elegiac rush of Brit-rock genius."

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