Odd Words: Acouasm

Voices in My Head - AcouasmIt’s only day three of this series and it is having the exact opposite effect on me as I expected. It’s making me feel full of myself. The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition is a dictionary, but not one with trivial words like “about” and “the.” Yet I’m finding that I know 95 percent of the words.

Learning Words

The funny thing is that I’ve recently reconnected with an old friend, Mark Neville. When I first met him, I was perhaps 20 years old. And I was struggling to improve my vocabulary, looking forward to eventually taking the SAT. I had a list of about 20 words that I was trying to learn. And Mark knew them all. I never did memorize those words.

But something changed around that time. I started reading a lot more — and widely. And if you want to develop your vocabulary, that’s the way to do it: read. Then you learn words without even trying. But I do remember struggling through some George Eliot with a dictionary close by. And much later, I did the same thing when I was going through a William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor phase. But mostly, you just learn the words without thinking much about it. And that’s much more pleasant than memorizing words out of context.

I Suffer From Acouasm

I could have gone with “acariasis” — but I don’t want to think about mites right now. Anyway, there was a much better word: “acouasm.” I have these all the time. I assume most people do. But if you don’t, it doesn’t mean I’m crazy. In fact, I don’t even know why you would suggest that. Really, there’s nothing wrong with me. Those doctors don’t know what they’re talking about anyway. I’m fine. Really, I am!

A·cou·asm  noun  \ə-‘koo-azm\

1. an imagined ringing in the head.

Date: unknown, but as a psychiatric term, probably fairly recent.

Origin: Greek: άκου, which is something like a hailing, “Hark!”

Example: Its singles have been imported from another, much better album, and any suggestion of a direct Wu-Tang influence can only be described as an acouasm.Barry Schwart

Not Feeling Too Good

I’ll bet you anything Mark already knew that word!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Odd Words: Acouasm

  1. Since you’ve gone past it alphabetically, here’s a word I learned just a few days ago:

    acnestis

    The part of the back (or backbone) between the shoulder blades and the loins which an animal cannot reach to scratch; the part of the human back between the shoulder blades.

    From post-classical Latin acnestis from Hellenistic Greek ἄκνηστις spine, backbone from ancient Greek κνῆστις spine, cheese-grater, in Hellenistic Greek also itching

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/acnestis

    What I love about it is that the Greeks used the same word for ‘spine’ and ‘cheese-grater’, and that the English word refers both to ‘spine’ and ‘itch’, which are involved in the Greek roots..

    • Wow! That wasn’t in the book. But I’m glad you are into the spirit of the series. I was just reading that cosmos and cosmetics are based on the same Greek root that means more or less to arrange or to add to or embellish.

      This would be great if people came up with words in between the last two I’ve posted. It could remake the world, because as we all know from Naked Lunch, “Language is a virus from outer space”!

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