Wednesday, May 28, 2008

drop, so far, meretricious,

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Today's most beautiful thing, and one that it is worth looking at more closely, by clicking over the picture.

In Carluccio's delecatessen,as I buy some mozerrela, a young manager , whom I have never met before, standing in front of the counter, asks: "How's your day so far, sir?"

I wake up with the word "meretricious" on my mind. It is a good many years since I confused it with meritorious. But how did it come to mean flashy or noisily boastful? There is an almost sensual pleasure in opening a dictionary on a wet morning to find out. Its primary meaning, I learn, is "characteristic or worthy of a prosititute", being derived from the latin meretrix meaning prostitute. Three words above it my eye falls on a word I have not met before, "merdiverous". Yes, it does mean dung-eating with, as it happens, special reference to insects.

7 comments:

marja-leena said...

Amazing photo! The insects surprise but I love the water drop between the fuschia flowers.

Barrett Bonden said...

.... and therefore not to be confused with a rather better-known word (or activity) that features in novels by Thomas Pynchon and Timothy Mo. I've always liked meretricious but felt its use as an insult should only be directed against those who are likely to attract another insult "clever".

tristan said...

one wonders why dante kept quiet about beatrice's better looking sisters, meretrice & avarice ...

Rashmi said...

Gorgeous!

Lucas said...

Definitely worth clicking to enlarge. The more I look the more I see. The second bug is a surprise.
There is - for me - something Sci Fi about this photograph. The beings and modules of an Asimovian civilisation.

Lucy said...

Gorgeous,I didn't see the insects at first!

I like the word meretricious, but I never thought of it as flashy or boastful, more in the sense of prostituting one's talents, I think, or of soliciting the wrong kind of attention and seeking to make a quick buck in an unworthy way... I think I might have described Peter Mayle's writing so, though whether it was quite the right use... I like Tristan's sisters of Beatrice!

Dave said...

"Merdivorous" - as if "coprophagous" wasn't already enough! My cup runneth over.