U is for Unctuousness

urbane unctuousness
usurping utopia
urging upscaling

senryu M. LaFreniere, all rights reserved
Underland Script font (letter U) by Wacaksara Co.
mom’s typewriter font (poem) by Christoph Mueller
19th in the A to Z challenge 2019

I just love words, the way they roll around in your mouth, the way certain letters spit out sounds while others create melodies.

Compounds are fun too, making it easier to decipher new words but sometimes they lead you astray.  Take “un”. It means “not” whatever it is in front of. Unhappy, unearned, unearthly.  And you can make up your own “not” words.

Then you get something like “unctuousness” meaning (from various dictionaries for adj describing people)

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badgeThe thing is where is the word “ctuous”? Obviously that would be a flattering word meaning sincere rather than insincere; honestly earnest because “unctuous” means not “ctuous”, right?

And before you say there are no English words that start with “ct”, you’d be wrong.  There is “ctenoid”.

So let’s follow it up.  It came from the Latin word “unctus” which meant anointing. Back in the days, people used to anoint themselves with oily hence the meaning for food is “oily” or “fatty”.  Ahhh, the mystery is solved.  “Oily” evolved in it’s meaning as a description of people as “unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech“. Unctuous is actually a Latin synonym back in the days when people spoke both English and Latin for oily. And there you have it.

Words evolve showing bits of human history. Yeah, you can say “oily politician” but “unctuous politician” has a cooler sound with the punchy c. And unctuous came from unctus which sound like anus and some of them can be an a—— with how they want to push their own short-term agenda without thinking of the greater good long-term. This is why I love words.  They say so much in a few letters.

this time I used “unctuous” as the search term. I was rather surprised that the results included a Dr. Jekyll action figure today although the book Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City totally makes sense. Another day, you will see different results.

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