After the first page of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition, I thought these Odd Words posts would be easy! (Well, not easy; creating the definitions with all the odd characters is actually rather hard.) But then I flipped the page and there were only two words I didn’t know.
The one I didn’t go for was “abulia” which is a mental disorder characterized by a loss of willpower. But that one hits a little too close to home. Also, I don’t really see it as a disorder. Schopenhauer would doubtless have called it a rational response to the absurdity of existence. I work obsessively, and that strikes me as far more of a disorder. So let us say no more about it.
Today’s word, as you may have guessed, has something to do with the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, I could find no pictures of an actual ablegate. So we are stuck with Cardinal George Pell. What’s important about the image is what it doesn’t contain.
1. a papal envoy to newly appointed cardinals or civil dignitaries.
Date: early 19th century.
Origin: it could be from the French word ablégat or the Latin ablegāre. As far as I know, both these words mean “ablegate.”
Example: It turns out that Francis was upset not because he gets yanked on day in and day out by people looking for a quick blessing, but because this particular puller almost knocked the supreme pontiff onto a wheelchair-bound man during an open-air mass in Morella, Mexico. I guess you could call the whole thing a dis-ablegate! (Papal pun!) —Lindsey Ellefson