Definition: Adjective. Having way hair.

Etymology: from the ancient Greek, kuma, meaning “wave” and trikh, a stem of thrix, meaning “hair.”

Pronuciation: sy MO truh kus

Trivia: Cymotrichous is notable, not only because there are so many cymotrichous people, but because it was the winning word in the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee on June 2, 2011. Sukanya Roy, then 14 years old, spelled the word correctly, beating out 275 top spellers, for the coveted title and $40,000 in cash and prizes. And no, her hair is not wavy.

There’s a Word for That: Ultracrepidarian

atkins-bookshelf-wordsAn ultracrepidarian is a person who criticizes beyond the scope of their competence; a person who comments on a subject without sufficient knowledge that subject. The word is a derived from the Latin phrase, “Ne supra crepidam judicaret” that literally translated means “beyond the sandal,” but generally means “let him not criticize above the sandal.” Here is the historical context to this interesting phrase: in ancient Roman times, a famous artist named Apelles was drawing a person and started with the feet and sandals first. By chance, a shoemaker happened to be passing and looking at the drawing, criticized Apelles for not drawing the latch of the sandal correctly. The artist deferred to the shoemaker’s legitimate criticism and corrected the drawing. But the shoemaker did not stop at the sandals, he then began to criticize the way the artist drew the legs. At this point, Apelles got angry and shouted at the shoemaker, “Sutor, ne ultra crepidam judicaret!” (Shoemaker, not above the sandal!”). Although Pliny recorded this initial phrase in Natural History (Book 35), later Latin writers modified the phrase to “Ne supra crepidam judicaret.” Essayist William Hazlitt was the first to use the word, ultracrepidarian, derived from the original phrase as recorded by Pliny, in a letter written in 1818, and later in 1819. 

Related word: Philistine, a person uninformed in a specific area of knowledge.

Read related posts: There’s a Word for That: Esprit de l’escalier
There’s a Word for That: Jouissance
There’s a Word for That: Abibliophobia
There’s a Word for That: Petrichor
There’s a Word for That: Deipnosophist
There’s a Word for That: Pareidolia

There’s a Word for That: Macroverbumsciolist

For further reading: ISMs: from Autoeroticism to Zoroastrianism by Gregory Bergman, Adams Media(2006).

There’s a Word for That: Sheeple

atkins-bookshelf-wordsSheeple are people who mindlessly follow a trend or mass movement. Individuals who do not think on their own and do not form their own opinions, accepting as factual anything reported in mainstream media. The word is also used to refer to people who are conformists or submissive.

The word is a portmanteau (two individual words combined to form a new word) — composed of the words “sheep” and “people.” The word first appeared in print in an article in the Emory University Quarterly in 1950. The word  has been connected to John Brunner’s science fiction novel, The Sheep Look Up, published in 1972, that predicts the destruction of the environment in America. In the novel, people are compared to sheep and the cover features an illustration on people looking at the heavens while wearing stylized gas masks with curved sheep’s horns in the back. The word reappeared in the Wall Street Journal in an article in 1984. Despite its appearance in print and its use on the web (particularly in the comment sections of political stories that are rife with mudslinging), the word is not included in the print edition of the OED (perhaps the word rubs the editors the wrong way), but found in several American dictionaries, such as the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th Edition).

For further reading: Urban Dictionary by Aaron Peckham, Andrews McMeel Publishing (2005), American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th Edition), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2011).