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Expand Your Political Vocabulary

 by Hannah Lobel


Tags: Politics, Election 2008, vocabulary, political vocabulary, Sarah Palin, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, John McCain, Wordsmith, Daily Show,

Wordsmith.org, whose “Word.A.Day” emails dispatch daily doses of rare vocabulary, has taken up the election as its theme this week. Specifically, creator Anu Garg is featuring words that contain the candidates’ names.

These words have been on the books since long before this never-ending campaign began, but let’s see if we can force some creative connections and use each in a candidate-related sentence.

Here’s the list so far:

palinode (PAL-uh-noad)
noun: A poem in which the author retracts something said in an earlier poem.
From Greek palinoidia, from palin (again) + oide (song). It's the same palin that shows up in the word palindrome.

Please use the word in a sentence:
If Sarah Palin had apologized for her recent bilious musings on the “Real America” in poem form, rather than as a hypothetical hedging, it would have been a Palin palinode. (For Palin-inspired poetry, check out the submissions to our Great Writing Salon.)

bidentate (by-DEN-tayt)
adjective: Having two teeth or toothlike parts.
From Latin bi- (two) + dens (tooth).

Please use the word in a sentence:
One wanting to caricature Biden’s latest campaign-trail gaffe might show him as a bucktoothed, bidentate goofball. 

obambulate (o-BAM-byuh-layt)
verb intr.: To walk about.
From Latin ob- (towards, against) + ambulare (to walk). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ambhi- (around) that is also the source of ambulance, alley, preamble, and bivouac. The first print citation of the word is from 1614.

Please use the word in a sentence:
This one’s too easy. Any candidate can obambulate a stage at a rally, so: Obama will certainly ombambulate in Richmond, Virginia, today. Perhaps it’s a more fitting word, though, to describe his opponents’ wanderings during their second, townhall debate. (You can relive those moments with The Daily Show video below, starting around 7:20.)

Check in tomorrow or Friday with Wordsmith for the McCain edition.