April 23, 2017


Built from or relating to an ancient masonry made up of no mortar and giant irregular blocks.

According to Webster’s, the name comes from the architecture in ancient sites like Troy and Mycenae where the design was so puzzling that it was suggested that only a race of Cyclops could have such strength to build this.

The word features prominently to describe the architecture of the fictional city of R’lyeh, resting place of Cthulhu.  The angles of the city were said to make no sense.


Fregoli delusion

September 15, 2012

My head is starting to spin from all of these mental conditions, so I will keep this brief.  This delusion is almost the opposite of Capgras — it is the believe that two different people are actually the same person in disguise.  Like Capgras, it seems to relate to some breakdown with the minds ability to recognize faces.

Fregoli’s, interestingly enough, is not named after the physician who first noted it, like many other illnesses are.  The illness was first reported in 1927 by two doctors, Courbon and Fail, who told the story of a woman who believed that she was pursued by Sarah Bernhardt and another famous actress, who could take control of anyone’s body and make her do things against her will.  Fregoli is a reference to the Italian actor Leopoldo Fregoli, who was a famous quick-change actor of the time.


Code, Chris. Classic Cases in Neuropsychology II


September 6, 2012

Since I was a child playing with G.I. Joe action figures, I have know that shrapnel is the word for shell fragments, particularly those designed to purposely explode from an artillery round to injure enemy soldiers.  What I only recently learned, however, is that the word has an eponym.

Henry Shrapnel was a British lieutenant who invented the explosive shell in the mid-1780s.  Until that point, artillery was used mostly to attack enemy fortifications or armament.  His invention made it an effective anti-personnel weapon.  The British army did not fully embrace the idea until the start of the nineteenth century when it proved its worth in several Napoleonic battles, including Waterloo.
Source: “March 13, 1842: Henry Shrapnel Dies, But His Name Lives On” Wired


August 11, 2009

A eponynmous word from Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy.  A macadam is a road, or the stones in a road, made up broken stones of even size, compacted together, and “bound with tar or bitumen” according the the O.A.D.  It was invented by Scotsman John Laudon MacAdam and the standard form for paving roads pre-asphalt.  A google image search shows various examples of the paving, but it is difficult to recognize without being able to inspect closely.  Most paved and tar roads that do not use asphalt are macadam roads.