Sunday, August 22, 2010

David’s Definitions for October 2010


An adjective describing platitudes, trite sayings, clichés. A person who constantly utters such stuff can also be called bromidic. This describes a lot of politicians and speakers at graduations. In the great musical "South Pacific," Nellie Forbush describes herself as bromidic - boring, ordinary, and "a cliché coming true." The adjective bromidic comes from the noun bromide, which refers to such platitudes and clichés. A person who tends to utter bromides can also be called a bromide. In turn, bromide comes from chemistry. Yes, chemistry! Not because chemistry is a cliche, but because a bromide is a compound of the element bromine and some other element, and 100 years ago, certain bromides, in particular potassium bromide, also called bromide of potassium, were commonly used as sedatives. Hence bromide came to mean something that puts you to sleep - like the typical graduation speech. Interestingly, the element bromine, where all of this started, has a very pungent smell, and the name bromine comes from a Greek word that refers to the stench of billy goats, which is not something that any of us would consider bromidic.

(Will be published in the October 2010 issue of Denver's Community News.)

The Scrabble word score of bromidic is 15.
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