Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bubbling over with ebullience and other social words sure to be on SATs

An SAT Question of the Day:
Dahntay’s ------- over winning the prestigious prize was ------- only by the fact that his father was unable to attend the ceremony.

incredulity . . . misconstrued
ebullience . . . tempered
bashfulness . . . extended
satisfaction . . . confirmed
relief . . .conveyed

The Eskimos supposedly have 50 different words for snow. In our society, we have an infinite number of words to describe social proclivities, many of which are sure bets to pop up on the SAT.

On the extraverted (or extroverted) side, there's garrulous (talkative, chatty); gregarious (friendly), ebullient (bubbling over with enthusiasm).

On the introverted (no alternate spelling on this one) side, there's diffident (shy, lacking self-confidence), reticent (quiet, shy, withdrawn), stoic (one who so represses his emotions that he is indifferent to pleasure or pain.

On the positive side, there's aplomb (self-assurance, self-possession, especially in difficult or embarrassing situations), panache (literally, a plume in a helmet; swagger, flamboyance, as in "She does everything with panache."), elan (ardor, eagerness, spirit).

On the negative side, there's fractious (extremely irritable, unruly), mendacious (lying), pusillanimous (a mean-spirited and contemptible lack of courage; a stronger word than cowardly), bibulous (addicted to drink), inebriated (drunk), a pariah (an outcast -- a Hindu word).

The answer to a previous SAT Question of the Day turned on the word "salutary" (beneficial, promoting health, ). "Salubrious" means basically the same thing, with more emphasis on bodily health. Both come from the Latin salus, meaning health (or general welfare).
Before you sip the table wine in France, you might raise your glass and say, "Salu." Since "health" has always been a greeting of sorts, we get "salute" as a greeting and the "salutatorian" (usually the No. 2 student in a class) delivering the greeting speech at a commencement exercise. (Note, as every salutatorian must, that the word "Commencement" tells us that graduation is a beginning, not an end. Wow!)
A saluki is an Arabian or Egyptian dog, from Saluq, an ancient city in Arabia, which may have been a healthy place. :-)

The expression mens sana in corpore sano, which you don't hear that much these days,
described the Classical ideal of "a sound mind in a sound body." Perhaps the motto of Major League Baseball, or at least Barry Bonds, should be corpus maximum steroidiis plurimis (the largest body by means of the most steroids).

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