Sunday, January 22, 2012

Word of the Day: “callipygian”

Logophiles were recently introduced to a rather beguiling-sounding name,

borne most prominently by Mr. Gingrich’s eighty-second paramour (and third wife).  The word derives from Greek,


(transcribed kalliste), a feminine adjective of the superlative degree, meaning ‘most beautiful’.   Whether this epithet  accurately describes  the ex-mistress/spouse-of-the-month of Mr. Potato-Puff,  depends on your taste in helmet-haired bottle-blonde Barbies  with smiles like a constricted sphincter.   Such matters form no part of our scholarly concern;  our aims here are purely philological.

The -ist suffix is actually cognate with the English ending -est, used likewise to form adjectival superlatives.  That is, it does not form part of the root, which is simply kalli- ‘beautiful’.    This root has no English cognate, but it does show up in an English word  borrowed from the ancient Greek;  to wit


For anyone who knows this word, it surely figures among the top ten favorites.  And its meaning is, um, well… that is to say…  Fact is, we here at the World of Doctor Justice run a pretty trim ship:  family-friendly, and dedicated to Wholesome American Values.   Not that being callipygian is necessarily out of line with Wh.A.V., not at all, it’s just … Unlike certain strutting public adulterers, who parade their paramours while posing as a paladin of the Moral Majority (and who previously, squatting in hiding, and still reeking from the bed of lust, hurled stones at President Clinton) -- unlike such gentlemen, I say, we are reluctant to utter here on this site  the least syllable that might bring a blush to a maiden’s cheeks -- either set of cheeks.  And so we urge you simply to consult (provided you are over eighteen, and for purely lexicographic purposes)  this sober and decorous encyclopedia article concerning classical scupture of the Hellenic isles,

A more plebeian appreciation of the feminine form  may be consulted here:
Dames, dames, dames !

A callipygian penguin, followed by an admirer

[Children cease reading here.  You must be 18 to view the following image.
Otherwise --  Don’t look down !!]

[no peeking !]

Not smut! Classical stuff! (Guess which one is Mrs. Gingrich)

For an even more educational and not-naughty vision of the callipygian, verify that you are over 21, then click here.

[Bonus adjective]  An even rarer form, describing buttocks-traces left on a beach:

a pair of huge pygal-shaped impressions  left on the sand
-- Vladimir Nabokov, King, Queen, Knave (1968), p.

Use it!  Impress your friends!!

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