Odd Words: Bedizen

BedizenPage 24 of The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words: Revised Edition just sucked. Really! First we got more be- words. Then we got a bunch of ben- words. I decided to go with “bedizen,” because there was only one other word that I could even remotely say I didn’t know.

One Word Beyond Bedizen

The other word was beldam, which our dictionary defines as “an old woman; a hag.” That’s interesting in that I would have figured that it meant “beautiful woman.” That is, after all, what it literally means. And apparently, it was first used to mean more or less “grandmother.” But now it’s just an old woman or even a hag. Anyway, I think the word is archaic. Thus: don’t use it — not even for an odd words post.

Bedizen is a more interesting word:

Be·di·zen  verb  \bi-‘dī-zən\

1. to ornament or dress gaudily or vulgarly.

Date: mid 17th century.

Origin: it seems to come from the Dutch word disen, which seems to mean to put on a facade to impress others. But I’ve had to use a number of different sources to come to that conclusion.

Example: But with age — and possibly, I concede, declining virility — I began to see that pornography entailed the exploitation of vulnerable and mostly young people, while the depictions of violence which bedizen our ubiquitous screens aren’t victimless crimes — no matter how enthusiastically those who stage them, may consent.A Point of View

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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.

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