Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I've been trying to look up intercine, a word to characterize the current Republican conflict. It is not in
and the OED wants $29.95/month to look up a word.

Ah shucks. Ronnie wouldn't have needed an eight cylinder word or the prime lime dictionary.

Conservatives are gettin' their backs up, shades of AuH2O 64! The Bushman has stepped in his base, getting internecine conflict on his shoes.

Spirit of Ron is in the air.

(During the VA gubernatorial debate the wannabe Governors were channeling the 20 mule team borax man, saying "there you go again.")



Blogger Dave Beckerman said...

Hmmm. It's not in the Oxford English Unabridged Dictionary (about 20 years old - hardcopy edition). Is it a medical term?

One thing I'll tell you - Bush is going to get his head handed to him pretty soon. A number of confluences: Rove, Lady Justice, Iraq - are like streams that are going to flood the White House soon.

Blogger Barrett said...

Guys: the word you're looking for is internecine:

1. Of or relating to struggle within a nation, an organization, or a group.
2. Mutually destructive; ruinous or fatal to both sides.
3. Characterized by bloodshed or carnage.

(Care of American Heritage Dictionary)

And, yes, this administration doesn't know what's hitting it right now, and it hasn't seen anything yet. Nixon-era refugees, get a good seat and start taking notes.

Blogger emory said...

Barrett, dictionary-man! Thanks for pointing the way.

The discussion that follows is from


Word History: When is a mistake not a mistake? In language at least, the answer to this question is ?When everyone adopts it,? and on rare occasions, ?When it's in the dictionary.? The word internecine presents a case in point. Today, it usually has the meaning ?relating to internal struggle,? but in its first recorded use in English, in 1663, it meant ?fought to the death.? How it got from one sense to another is an interesting story in the history of English. The Latin source of the word, spelled both internecnus and internecvus, meant ?fought to the death, murderous.? It is a derivative of the verb necre, ?to kill.? The prefix inter- was here used not in the usual sense ?between, mutual? but rather as an intensifier meaning ?all the way, to the death.? This piece of knowledge was unknown to Samuel Johnson, however, when he was working on his great dictionary in the 18th century. He included internecine in his dictionary but misunderstood the prefix and defined the word as ?endeavoring mutual destruction.? Johnson was not taken to task for this error. On the contrary, his dictionary was so popular and considered so authoritative that this error became widely adopted as correct usage. The error was further compounded when internecine acquired the sense ?relating to internal struggle.? This story thus illustrates how dictionaries are often viewed as providing norms and how the ultimate arbiter in language, even for the dictionary itself, is popular usage.

Blogger I'm Not Emeril said...

took less than 10 seconds....

Blogger Michael said...

Bill, where do you get these shots? Have you got some encyclopedic memory or wizard filing system? Or both? This is prodigious.

Blogger Dave Beckerman said...

Dat is a problem I half: spelling. How in the heck am I gonna look up a woid when I can't spell it?

Blogger emory said...

yes david- my problem too.
congratulations to "i'm not emeril" for being able to look up correctly spelled word.

Blogger C. Maoxian said...

There's always !


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