Saturday, January 28, 2012


My boss described me as having "that ambivalent Nick look" the other day. This was a little bit of a new one for me, sort of like the time one of my students wrote that I was "aloof" on their end of semester evaluations. I don't know that I'd ever heard myself described in either of those ways, prior, though both are probably apt descriptions.

While I have some vague sense of both words, I wouldn't have been able to particularly correctly define either, if you'd asked me to (luckily, you didn't). I tried to piece together "ambivalent" for myself before looking it up. "ambi"... Well, ambidextrous... so... some sort of plural. "valent"... The valence of a node in a graph is the number of edges hitting it (or so). So... I'm going in many directions? Hit from all sides? Nope. According to, which I enjoy, ambi means both and valent is along the lines of valor, strength, for thoughts in this context (I guess the "strength" of a node in the graph makes sense). So, I'm of a divided mind. Somewhat along the lines of cognitive dissonance, though not exactly, I suppose. Glad I looked it up, because I'd have guessed it meant something more like uncaring. It's not that I don't care, I just can't make up my mind, then. I see many options, but have no way to distinguish them by rank.

Aloof's an interesting one, too. Coming from "windward direction" or "the weather side of a ship" to mean "at a distance." Just as a combination of letters, it's also reminiscent of alot.


Team Primal Force said...

I visit your blog every so often, mostly when I visit, which links to you. Your January post was interesting in its own right but when I got to the grammatically flawed "alot," my grammar checker winced but of course all is good now that I've visited hyperbole and a half. What a great post (the alot one). The various alots he drew are great! I once spent a lot of time making up words based on the word "apostrophe," one of the most misused punctuation marks ever (its vs it's etc. etc.) Here's what Lebsters has on this ...

apostrinclusion n. From apostrophe and inclusion. Antonym of apostromission, which see. Apostrinclusions that result in three or more consecutive possessive / contractive words, are the signature of apostrophiliacs.

apostro faucitis n. From apostrophe, faux and the suffix -itis. The tendency to misuse the apostrophe. Example: "As long as you rub some fruit juice and dirt on it's face, lions will let you hold their cubs over a cliff. Go try it." (Ref: Circle of Life)

apostromission n. From apostrophe and omission. What you've done when you miss an opportunity to contract a word in a sentence. Example: (in response to the news that "Mary and Erica are possible seed growers")

Mary's mate's name is "a"-less, unless I missed a sex change somewhere.
which of course could have been
Mary's mate's name's "a"-less, unless I missed a sex change somewhere.

apostrophiliac n. From apostrophe and the suffix phile (lover of). One who is excessively fond of the apostrophe.

sumidiot said...

Nice. I think apostromission might be my favorite.

Sarah said...

I was once described as “distant”. I didn’t need to look the word up, and perhaps it hurt a little, but I am well aware it was an honest assessment on the part of the person.

I didn’t like Psychology class. Figuring out what people thought of us was an assignment.