Thursday, January 5, 2012

Word Games

Because I was feeling a little bit snarky while writing my previous blog post, I asked Joe to preview it for me, specifically to temper any snarkiness that crossed the line of decency.

"Could you check to see if my facete is too cruel?" said I.

Joe got to chuckling and smiling to himself, so I assumed I had said something wrong.  Joe and I are both word geeks, so we kind of go around in circles, each trying to catch the other in some error.

"Why are you giggling?  It's facete, isn't it? I suppose it isn't a word?"

"Oh, I"m not saying it isn't a word.  I've just never heard it used that way."  Then he rambled a bit about word roots and the definition of other potentially related words, such as facet, facetious, etc.  But soon he got up from the table and rummaged around to find a dictionary.  He simply couldn't let it go.

After a few minutes of flipping pages, Joe asked, "And how might you spell facete, if it is a word, that is?"

Yikes!  I got to thinking maybe Joe was going to win this round.  But I spoke out more confidently than I felt, "F-A-C-E-T-E,"  and then a few minutes later, "or maybe it's ...E-E-T, " and then, a few minutes later still, when it became quite obvious Joe was finding no such word, "I don't is facetious spelled?  Maybe it's F-E-C..."

Using the  Second College Edition of Webster's New World Dictionary, published in 1970, Joe did not find facete.  He found facet, facetiae, and then facetious, but no facete.  Interestingly, facetiae is a plural, a collection of witticisms.  But apparently there is no singular, or at least was not 1970.

But I was not inclined to be beaten so easily.  Today we have google.  We can find nearly anything we search for hard enough.

In the Merriam-Webster online dictionary I find, as did Joe, facet, facetiae, and facetious.  But hold everything!  I also find facete, although it is labeled, archaic.  And, oh snap!  It is also alleged to be an adjective.  What's up with that? 

I was all excited thinking I might get to call this round a draw.  But even in it's archaic form, that word did not mean what I though it meant. 


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