Character Report © 2017

11-18-17 In a 20 minute writing prompt: show random characteristics... and some teasing for sesquipedalian and pedantic explanations!


"Officer, though reluctant, I, ah, I felt the urgent need to correct Deb's use of the word SINISTER and may have gone into an excessive explanation of the etymology of it and its Latin opposite DEXTER.

"Words associated with the right side are generally complimentary or have signified something desirable, but those pointing to the left are quite the opposite. Even in modern times, everyone tries to get up on the 'right' side of the bed and hopes to stay on the 'right' side of one's boss, if the person is in his/her 'right' mind.*1

"The English word dexterous also derives from the word for 'right' which has come to mean 'skillful'. This is what a person who uses the 'right' hand is expected to be. English also has favored the right over the left. The word 'right' developed from Old English riht, which meant 'to lead straight; to guide; to rule.

"Though the French word for LEFT is GAUCHE (awkwardness or lack of social graces), their word SINISTRE leads to the English SINISTER. Left-handers were generally thought to be unlucky. Left evolved from Old English lyft, which meant 'weak'. English prejudice against the left can be seen in such terms as 'two left feet', meaning 'awkward', and 'left-handed compliment', which is not considered as a compliment! It often also means evil, 'lacking talent or skill' by connotation as well as the denotation..."

"OK! STOP!" snarled Debbie. "I sense your good, dexterous intentions, but your loquacious, sesquipedalian explanation has become less informative and pedantic than I really..."

"Ahh, PEDANTIC — prefix PED — relates to feet as in bi-pedal, pedals, peddler. It came to English around 1600 and originated with Plato, or maybe Socrates. He would take his students outside and walk the gardens and courtyards. He taught them on his feet. So..."

"OK! OK! Enough!" screeched Debbie. "I give up..."

"THAT's when she shot me, officer."

*1 —Excerpts from The Story Behind the Word by Morton S. Freeman;

iSi Press; Philadelphia; 1985; pages 228-229.