Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Word #1: Parsimonious

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a link to my day zero page.  I'm slowly building my way towards a longer list, but while I'm at it, I figured I might as well start chipping away at some of these goals.  Goal #17:  Learn 50 new words. So here it is, the inaugural word of the week:


I've seen this word around.  Parsimonious and I run in different circles, but we see each other at intervals.  I've always assumed it meant something sensual or luxurious.  The word rolls off the tongue with such grace that it just exudes a natural pleasure.  I was a bit surprised to learn its true meaning: 

Of a person: characterized by or using parsimony; tight-fisted, mean. In early use also in positive sense: thrifty, frugal; (of a person's expenditure) economical, sparing.

In extended use, of a person or thing: sparing in the giving or using of something abstract, as emotion, good fortune, words, etc.

Of a thing: poor, meagre, scanty; spec. (of land) unproductive, barren.

Of a scientific hypothesis or explanation (esp. a phylogenetic tree): assuming the simplest state, process, evolutionary pathway, etc., that is consistent with the facts or observations; in accordance with the law or principle of parsimony.

Of the functioning of an organism or natural system: exhibiting economy of action, effort, or process
(definitions courtesy of Oxford English Dictionary, online version)

Tight-fisted, sparing, unproductive, barren.  Blech.  What a mood this sets, eh?  And yet, I find it liberating to inadvertently pick this word at the beginning of a project.  You have to fight your worst habits in order to build new, healthy ones, so why not begin a task by learning about its antithesis? 

Hello to you, Parsimonious.  Hope I don't run across you too often! 



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