Glossary: Words beginning with W, X, Y, Z

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W (back to top)






weltschmerz (back to top)

“Try to believe you want him here because of what he unwittingly demonstrates when he says he can’t choose between Rice Krispies and Cheerios. What he’s showing you must be weltschmerz: the knowledge that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind.

“To Do List for Morning.” Stephen Ira. Printed in The Collection, ed. by Tom. Léger and Riley MacLeod. New York: Topside Press, 2012. p. 239.

whickering (back to top)

“Lou,” Zane calls, whickering like a loon, and he has indents on his hands from carrying in their groceries.

Ut Mosny. Arctolatry. 2019. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-359-47552-0

white-slave (back to top)

To enslave a white person.

“A secret romance for one, with the suggestion that she had eloped with somebody, or that some Turk had developed a passion for her and taken extreme measures — such things have happened in Istanbul before now, you know — or even that she had been white-slaved — but I hardly think they would risk kidnapping a prominent man like Allan Duncannon and his daughter into the bargain.”
Dennis Wheatley. The Eunuch of Stamboul (1935) New York: Paperback Library, Inc., 1967. p 209.

whoonga (back to top)

“…armed gangsters [in South Africa] have begun raiding AIDS clinics and mugging patients to steal the ARV medication, Stocrin. Together with cannabis, rat poison and some other ingredients, it is being used to make a lethal new drug, known as whoonga or wunga. Selling for just 15-35 rand a dose to give you a high, it is spreading like wildfire through the black townships. Just two puffs are said to get you hooked.”

“Getting to grips.” The Economist. Dec. 4, 2010. p. 60.

wordfact (back to top)

The process of how language shapes our perception and ultimately the truth itself.

“There is a danger, however, in the language of symbols, for once words become removed from things, they begin to shape their own reality. John Kenneth Galbraith calls this phenomenon ‘wordfact.’ An excellent illustration is the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Donna Woolfolk Cross. Word Abuse: How the words we use use us. New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, Inc. 1979. p. 30.

X (back to top)



xeroxlore (back to top)

Rumors spread by photocopying.

“The howlers [among urban legends], it turns out, are examples of a subgenre called xeroxlore. The employee who posts one of these lists admits that he did not compile the items himself but took them from a list someone gave him, which were taken from another list, which excerpted letters that someone in some office somewhere really did receive.”

Steven Pinker. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. (1994) New York: HarperPerennial, 1995. p. 388.

xoogler (back to top)

“But his complaint resonates with some Xooglers (the nickname for former Google employees), who say decision-making has become painfully slow as the firm has grown.”

“How long will Google’s magic last?” Economist. Dec. 4, 2010. p. 78.

Y (back to top)

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yclept (back to top)


“This mighty monster had a son yclept Sharrkan…”

Richard F. Burton, ed. and trans. The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night: A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights Entertainments. New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1934. Vol 1. “King Omar bin al-Nu’uman and his Sons Sharrkan and Zau al-Makan.” p 520.

yoga (back to top)

An Eastern spiritual practice of stretching and breathing. From the Sanskrit meaning “to join together.”

“And since each degree of change in the heavenly bodies creates a new frequency of energy, the [Jyotish] astrologer must memorize several thousand individual patterns between any two or three planets–these arrangements are called yogas, literally the ‘yoking’ of stars. * * * In ancient India this closing of the gap was described as yoga or union (the same Sanskrit root gave us the verb ‘to yoke’).”

Deepak Chopra. How To Know God: The Soul’s Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries. New York: Harmony Books, 2000. p 264-265, 290.

Z (back to top)






zamburek (back to top)

“It wore an appearance partaking more of the character of a military expedition than one purely for pleasure; particularly as in the collected crowd were to be seen a body of two hundred camels, called Zamburek, each bearing a small swivel gun on its back, which were fired as the royal foot touched the royal stirrup. * * * As he approached his own horse, he found the astrologer royal ready with his watch to give him the true time for touching his foot with the stirrup, and then by the assistance of his Shatir Bashi, who placed his hand under his arm, he vaulted into the saddle. At that moment, the discharge of the two hundred swivels from the camel artillery was heard, the great band of the nokara, consisting of drums, and cymbals, and hautbois began to play, and there was a shout of laudatory exclamations and prayers from those around.”

James Morier. Zohrab, the Hostage. London: Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, 1832. Vol. I, pp. 32-33, 34.

zamindar (back to top)

”Still inclined to favor the Muslim way of doing things, Maryam held that it made no difference if you were the daughter of a feudal zamindar or an illiterate Punjabi peasant; every patient at the Paagal Khanaah was treated with kindness.”

Deborah Baker. The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2011. p. 129-130.

zar (back to top)

“Most Ethiopians, including the Beta-Israel, believe in the cult of the zar, a personal spirit that may be male or female, is usually malevolent, and causes terrible disease or other misfortune — most often to women between the ages of fifteen and thirty. The shamans who deal with zars and other spirits are called balazar, master of the zar.

Louis Rapoport. The Lost Jews: Last of the Ethiopian Falashas. New York: Stein and Day, 1980. p. 172.

zareba (back to top)

“Reared in a land where to-morrow is the busiest day of the week, he distrusts bustle, and, lest by an oversight he should be forced to hurry, he has erected a strict zareba of red-tape through which he gazes with a stony, departmental attention to business.”

Julian Duguid. Green Hell. London: George Newnes, 1935. p. 23.

zenkey (back to top)

A hybrid between a donkey mother and zebra father. In 2003, the only living zenkey was at Nasu Safari Park north of Tokyo.