Tuesday, January 23, 2007

If You Don't Know, Now You Know

Occasionally one runs across a word which, even taken in context, one is unable to really figure out what it means. For the last two months or so, my dictional bugaboo has been "soi-disant." It doesn't help than one of the chief employers of this word is a notoriously bad speller/proofreader when blogging, but I've never figured out what it meant other than that it was pejorative. Well, being a good soi-disant blogger, I looked it up:
soi-disant \swah-dee-ZAHN\, adjective:
Self-styled; so-called.
Just a soi-disant public service from me, to you.

(And if you catch me actually using this word more than once a month, you have full permission to call me a pretentious wanker. Not that Yglesias is that - his blogbag includes much more erudition than you pay me for, and with that you get eggroll $10 words.)


Icepick said...

No, using 'soi-disant' is pretentious. 'Self-styled' or 'so-called' are clear and easily understood. Using 'soi-disant' in place of the above is merely a way to say "I went to an Ivy League school (or I want you to believe that I did), and if you have to ask what I mean by that, you didn't and you're unworthy of my esteemed presence." Soi-disant adds nothing, and it's not even 'compact', meaning that it doesn't add any more meaning to a conversation. Hell, it's not even shorter to say than the other two. MY may be erudite, but that doesn't mean he can't be a pretentious wanker as well.

Icepick said...

An example of a word that is compact would be gestalt. Zeitgeist is another good example.