Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Torrific New Word

I have always loved words. To the point of being quite geeky about it, in fact. But I have a recent acquisition in the facebook friend department, one Haleigh M., who overshadows me in every way in the word geekiness department.

Being a teacher at heart, as I myself tend to be, Haleigh posted the following this morning,
New Word of the Day: torrefaction (or the verb - torrefy) - something I am especially grateful for this morning.
She left the work of discovery to any readers who might be students at heart.

And I eagerly took the bait.

From the Free Dictionary,
torrefy [ˈtɒrɪˌfaɪ]
vb -fies, -fying, -fied (Medicine / Pharmacology) (tr) to dry (drugs, ores, etc.) by subjection to intense heat; roast
[from French torréfier, from Latin torrefacere, from torrēre to parch + facere to make] torrefaction [ˌtɒrɪˈfækʃən] n
Hmmm.  Interesting.

Going back to Haleigh's post, the part, "something I am especially grateful for this morning," piqued my interest.  If torrefaction is, "To dry by subjection to intense heat; or roast," Haleigh's description conjured up images of her sitting inside her woodstove after falling in the creek.  Or some other such nonsense. 

I asked Haliegh about this.  I was really curious as to what aspect of being dried "by subjection to intense heat," she was enjoying this fine morning.

Haleigh responded with these quotes from World Wide Words e-magazine.  The first segment is from 11/24,
I found my wife studying a big dictionary. She told me what she was looking for, but my ancient inadequate ears heard it as horrify, leading to one of those increasingly common moments of mutual incomprehension. The word was torrify, not one in either of our vocabularies. She had encountered it when reading the list of ingredients on the packaging of the sausages she was cooking, which announced that they contained Melton Red Ale made from “torrified wheat”. It was easy to work out that the word was a close relative of torrid, very hot and dry (they derive from Latin torrere, to dry with heat). It turns up often as torrefy, though our sausage spelling occurs by analogy with terrify (and horrify).
And a follow up from today's edition,
Many readers pointed out torrefy (or torrify), which I mentioned last time, has close relatives in other languages. In Canada, where French and English mingle, Wendy Magnall noted that “the excellent French term torréfaction can be found on one side of coffee containers in place of the overworked English roast. As I write, I am enjoying a cup of torréfaction traditionelle.” From Germany, Reinhard Fey tells us, “In many Italian cities you will find shop signs torrefazione propria. These are shops roasting and selling their own coffee.

Peter Rugg added another context: “This process is used to dry and slightly char biomass pellet fuels. It is called torrifaction or torrification. Like many technical words, in its many forms it confuses digital dictionaries. The one approving this note wants to change it to horrification.” Martin Spiller added a memory: “The lovely old Carwardines Tea and Coffee House in Corn Street, Bristol, had a sign painted on the side which fascinated me when I was young: ‘The Liquefaction of our Torrefaction Always Brings Satisfaction.’”
Well, these little quotes thrilled me in several ways.  Firstly, they solved the mystery of Haleigh's morning enjoyment of torrefaction.  She was enjoying her morning cup of coffee in the liquification of the torrefied and subsequently ground coffee beans.

But I also enjoyed imagining Louisa over in Italy, drinking her caffè that's been brewed from beans that have been freshly and locally torrefied, torrefazione propria.  Oh, that's right, Louisa doesn't like coffee.  Oh, well.  At any rate, it gave me reason to think of my dear daughter who is currently dwelling far across the sea.

And finally, I just plain like words.  I totally enjoy reading the mental ramblings and vocabulary gymnastics of someone else who finds similar pleasure in something as simple as words and definitions and word histories.  Is there not something innately fun in learning such arcanities?

That word, by the way, arcanities, is a ... a ... a ... Oh, shoot!  It's not found in a dictionary. 

What's that word for a made-up word that's created by following the normal rules for spelling and grammar, suffixes and prefixes, etc?  I know I've heard a word for that!  There's got to be a word for it, right?  If not, there definitely ought to be.

Haleigh!   Yoohooo, Haleigh!  Help me out here, will you, please?


Just Ducky said...

I think the word is neologism.:)

theMom said...

Oh, thank you, yes. That's the one I was seeking.

But as I perused the definitions of neologism just now, out of mere curiosity of course, I found such fun definitions! I almost want to start a whole new post on that one.

Everything from mental illness to sacred writings to regular old new words.