Who wears it better, Cardigan or Leotard?

Thanks to Bồ’s suggestion in the previous post on word origin, Đề was inspired to write more on interesting eponyms.


This word originates from the surname of a German physician, Franz Anton Mesmer. Born in Germany in 1733, Mesmer studied medicine and practiced hypnotize to cure patients. His career was associated with the theory of Animal Magnetism, from which the hypnosis technique was derived from. The term Mesmerism was first used by his pupil to indicate his practice of hypnotizing patients. The term now no longer limits its meaning to hypnosis, but it’s more about fascinating someone or holding them spellbound. 


Also comes from the surname of another scholar from the late 17th century, Luigi Galvani, but instead of putting people into motionless state as mesmerize does, galvanize is to shock people and urge them to do carry out some action. This scientist did an experiment in which he ran an electric current through a dead frog ( I wonder where he got such idea to play with). He noticed that electricity made the frog’s legs twitch. Today, Galvanize  has nothing to do with electricity, at least not literally.


Another person that made his name into an eponym is a 18th century French acrobat. This man, whose full name was Jules Leotard, developed the art of trapeze and was credited for popularizing the flexible one-piece body-tight gym wear that fits the safety and agility requirements of the sport. 


Fashionista or not, you might have one of this in your house, a sweater with buttons in the front. This piece of clothing was named after James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, a British Army Major General. His fame for winning in war battle resulted in the popularity of this garment that were worn by British army. The term was first used to describe the knitted sleeveless vest, but now it refers to sweater which hangs open in the front, sometimes with buttons, sometimes not.


The story behind this word also relates to a military officer. The man whose name lives on not for his victory, but for his betrayal to his own country was Vidkun Quisling. During World War 2, he collaborated with Germany and became the insider that the Nazi needed to take over Norway. A quisling is a traitor or a collaborationist who works for enemy force against his side.


Which river would you drink from?

Welcome back to the Greek mythology series!

Writing about Zeus’s creative punishments all of which last for an eternity reminded Đề of the movie “Eternal sunshine of a spotless mind”. It was a romantic drama about two strangers who felt for each other at first sight then found out later that they used to be madly in love. Their story started when after two years being together, the two lovers separated and decided to undergo a procedure, provided by a company Lacuna, to remove all of the memories of their romance. People say sometimes the best memories are the worst. Just as much as they used to make you happy, beautiful memories hurt when it comes to the realization that those things you had were forever gone. Therefore it’s natural to have the idea of getting such painful part out of your head.

In Greek mythology, there was also a need of mind erasure, all mortals had to do this between their two lives, forget everything before being rebirth-ed. If in “Eternal sunshine of a spotless mind”, they needed a company and all kind of neuroscience technology to help them do that, go through their unconscious mind, find every single related piece and erase it, things were easier and simpler in the Greek ancient stories, all it took was to drink water.

Lethe was one of the five rivers in Hades, the underworld in Greek mythology. It was also known as Ameles Potamos, the river of unmindfulness. The river was told to flow through the cave of Hypnos, the god of sleep, who would murmur his drowsiness into the water. Just like most other rivers in in Greek myths, Lethe had a god or a goddess for its namesake, it was the same-name goddess, a personification of oblivion. One would experience complete forgetfulness of the past after drinking water from it. In the mythology, the souls of the dead would have to drink this water to erase their earthly lives before reincarnation. With some modification, Lethe came into modern English as the word lethargy. Lethargy characterizes a condition of extreme drowsiness, fatigue, laziness or torpor, and usually a lack of emotion or interest. Lethargic means unnaturally drowsy, dull or torpid.

Interestingly enough, there was another river which had just the opposite magic of Lethe, that was river Mnemosyne. It had the ability to make those who drink water from it remember all things and acquire omniscience. Greek mythology at the end of the day was human’s imagination, what they could not possess in the real world were fantasied here. If there was one way to completely obliterate one’s mind in the wink of an eye, there must be another way to fulfill it just as fast. This, to some extent, might as well indicate the ancient (Greek) people’s yearning for justice, which can also be seen in Zeus’ quite fair and elaborate treatment for the righteous and the sinner. The river Mnemosyne was powered and guarded by no other than goddess Mnemosyne. She was the personification of memory and remembrance, the creator of language and words. In some source, she was named the minor-goddess of time too, for she knew everything since the beginning of time. As you may have guessed, her name was the origin of the word memory and other “mnemo-ish” words. Mnemonics is the art or method to improve memory. Mnemonic (adj) is relating to improving memory. Mnemophobia is the fear of memory. So whoever has mnemophobia might consider going to Lacuna company if it ever exists. As for goddess Mnemosyne, she had quite a story as well, but that will come in another post.

Let’s get back to River Lethe and River Mnemosyne. One allows you to forget all the memory that was so beautiful it hurts, all the things you knew and all the events you have been through. The other lets you obtain the pinnacle of knowledge and wisdom. In one way, you basically become a new person with no history, in the other way, well, you will also become a new person except with loads of history of the whole mankind. Here comes the question, if you were given the option to drink from either of the two rivers, which one would you choose, Lethe or Mnemosyne?

Come way back to the couple in that movie, they chose Lethe, not for their entire mind though, just a part of it. But things worked out well for them. After becoming estranged, maybe thanks to their very last remnant of each other’s memory or for some inexplicable reason they happened to meet on a train. Coming across all the records of their relationship in the past, they were astounded and wanted to start everything anew.

Learning in the “Wild”

Đề is reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, a memoir on the journey of the author herself hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). PCT, a long distant hiking trail, is 2,663 mile long with one end is on the U.S border with Mexico, the other is on the U.S. border with Canada. Averagely, the full hike requires six months to thoroughly prepare and six more months to hike. She finished half of that. The trail crosses 25 national forests, 7 national parks and covers a wild range of tough weather. Needless to say, it was an ultimate challenge for a woman to even just think about it, let alone to hike by herself in such wilderness. Cheryl was having a hard time in the grief of her mother’s death and going through her divorce to the man she was still in love with, when she decided the hike the PCT. But that’s another story, this post is about its vocabulary. 

It was a well-written book and wasn’t too hard to read. Each page only has three to four words that are new to Đề, but that’s enough to make a good list of vocabulary to learn from the book. Considering her “amazing” memory which manages to forget almost everything that should be remembered, it is obvious to Đề that she won’t able to learn those words just by folding each page of the book with the page corner pointing exactly at the new word. Writing them down here and getting to know them more might be a better idea. 


The PCT passes the High Sierra trail which, at the time the author hiked, was experiencing a record snow storm, the worst in at least the last decade. Given very little of hike-in-snow experience and her not-so-right hiking equipments due to her poor preparation, the author decided to detour to avoid risking her life with such weather condition. On the new path that she had to take to bypass the snowy part, she crossed the Sierra city. While taking a break in a small convenient store by the road, she noticed a brochure that said this city was wiped out by an avalanche in 1852. Here comes the first word of this post. An avalanche is a massive and rapid flow of snow flow down a mountain side. Simply put, it is a snow-slide or a snow-slip. This reminds me of a viral event last year when Vietnamese social media was hit by a story of a mid-20 Vietnamese female hiker survived the Nepal blizzard and avalanche. 

Feline and Canine

Feline means relating to or resembling cats, so does Canine to dogs. These were used by the author to describe the fox she encountered in the forest, “it looked half feline, half canine”. In that morning while hiking on top of the snow, she suddenly realised a fox coming her way, soundlessly thanks to the snowy ground. It was right in front of her, about ten feet away, sniffing around. “He was barely knee-high, though his strength was irrefutable, his beauty dazzling, his superiority to me apparent down to his every prestige hair”. Her heart was racing, thinking if she should scramble to behind the tree to hide. But lucky for her that day, when the fox noticed her, it studied her for few seconds then turned and walked away. These words can be used as nouns too, feline is a cat and canine is a dog.


Due to the extreme hardship of the trail, not so many people hike it. Not only because people embark at different point of the trail, at different time but also their different hiking speed made it hard for them to come across each other. There were times that Cheryl had to hike through out days without seeing any human sight nor that of civilisation. That’s why when she walked down a jeep road and saw an SUV with stuffs of a modern life in the front seat like a hooded sweatshirt, a cardboard coffee cup or immaculate zip lock bags , she couldn’t help but feel reminiscent of her former life. Reminiscent means suggesting something by resemblance.


Cheryl has a tattoo of a horse on her shoulder. It was Lady, a dear horse of her mother. Cheryl’s mother was’t happy with her husband, Cheryl’s biological father, she was chronically violently abused by him. She lived a long time in pain before having the courage to finally getting away from him. Both mentally and physically weak, the mother needed something to hang on to and she, once a cowgirl, decided to get Lady, a beautiful horse to keep her company. But after she died from cancer, her at-the-time boyfriend started neglecting the horse. Furthermore, Lady was old and weak to the point that Cheryl and her brother believed it would be awful to let the horse die of nature. They had to euthanise Lady. Euthanise is to intentionally end a life to relieve if from suffering. Cheryl couldn’t afford to hire a veterinarian and she couldn’t let the horse to die in some stranger’s hands. Therefore, she and her brother had to take Lady down with a gun themselves.  


Because of the wild nature of such a long-distant hike, after days of hiking, Cheryl realised how much different her current life is from the past days, how her attention completely shifted and how she stopped concerning if she was “infinitesimally fatter or thinner than the day before”. All she could feel during the hike was the brutal pain on her shoulder while she had to carry the Monster, that’s how she named her back pack, which was so heavy that it was almost impossible for her to even lift it off the ground; and the agony that her feet had to bear. Her toes ripped off because she chose the wrong size of shoes. Again, if it wasn’t for her poor preparation, she could have had a lighter backpack and a fitter pair of shoes. Let’s have a closer look at the word infinitesimally. One can easily spot out the “infinite” part and would somewhat guess that this word refers to something infinite. And it’s natural to think of something infinitely large, or maybe just me. But in the contrary, this word comes from the modern Latin word infinitesimus which means infinite-th level in a defending scale. Thus, infinitesimal means unmeasurably small, but not yet to the point of none existence. 


p.s. Only few words have already made quite a post, Đề feels like she could write a whole other book just to talk about the vocabulary of a given book. 

Greek myths and eternal punishments

First off, Đề would like to thank Bồ for inspiring the topic of this series. The previous post on contranyms which are grouped and named after Janus has sparked off the idea of studying words that come from those mythologies. So while arranging some ideas for this post, Đề changed her mind after reading Bồ’s entry. But instead of digging into Roman religions and mythologies where Janus belonged, this series will feature words that were coined based on the stories or characters in Greek mythologies. These words and stories might be obvious to those who have been learning English vocabulary by studying its etymology; however, to Đề, who is very new to these Greek myths and is remotely familiar with Greek roots in English, this is just fascinating. Apparently, mythologies offered variable explanations of the origin of each word, only the prevailing version will be mentioned here.

In this first post of the series, each of the following words will relate to either eternal punishment or nourishment.

Promethean: daringly creative, defiant of authority

The word signifies the characteristics of the Titan giant Prometheus, who was known as a benefactor of mankind for the things he did. He was assigned by Zeus to form human from water and earth but later became enamoured of men which was beyond Zeus’ expectation. Prometheus and Zeus disagreed on how much power to grant human. Zeus wanted to prevent men from having power and even wanted them to perish. But Prometheus, against Zeus’ will, taught men agriculture, brought to men the fire he stole from Zeus’ lightning. To punish him, Zeus tried to hurt his loved ones, his brother and human. Nevertheless, Prometheus continued to defy Zeus, stole more skills from other gods to give to men. Later on, Zeus punished Prometheus himself by having him tied to a mountain where an eagle could tear his liver every day, which would regenerate overnight. Forever since, Prometheus had to endure the agony of having his liver eaten over and over again. Having said that, the word means boldly creative, in the way that this philanthropist loved and helped human; it also means defiant in the way that he defied god’s might and suffered for men.

Sisyphean: laborious, futile and interminable

This word takes us to the story of Sisyphus, who was not a god, but a king. Being chronically avaricious and treacherous, he was known as the craftiest of men. With the quest for power, he did all it took, including killing guests, seducing enemy’s daughter and even betraying Zeus. However the word Sisyphean does not indicate his characteristics, but the punishment for his deceitfulness. He was forced to roll an enormous boulder up to the top of a steep hill. More than that, Zeus has enchanted the boulder to roll away from Sisyphus just before it reached the top. As a result, Sisyphus was consigned to a useless and frustrating task for the rest of eternity.

Tantalise: to torment or tease with the sight of something unattainable

I bet at one point in your life, you must have been tantalised by something in one way or another, then you know how Tantalus, a half-god and half-nymp felt. One time, when attending a Zeus’ dinner in Olympus, Tantalus stole ambrosia and some secrets of Zeus to give to mortals. He later even killed his own son and served it to the gods in a banquet as a sacrifice. Aware and disgusted by his evil-doing of kin slaying, the gods refused to take the offer and revived his child. Tantalus was later punished by standing in a pool of water with low-hanging fruits above his head. But whenever he stretched out to get the fruits, they would grow out of his reach. Henceforth, he is forever tantalised by the food that he could never have.

Cornucopia: abundance, nourishment, a great amount of something, especially produce

The word literally means “horn of plenty”, originating from two Latin words: Cornu (horn) and Copia (plenty). It was told that the infant Zeus was once sent away to avoid his father from devouring him. From this point ward, there were few versions of the legend, one of which was that while hiding in a cave, Zeus was nursed and fed by a goat, Amalthea. One day, he accidentally broke her horn, and in his regret, Zeus charmed the horn to always be fulfilled with whatever Amalthea wished. Hence the word cornucopia, an eternal abundance of foods. This symbol of a horn with plenty of produce is adopted to Thanksgiving celebration in modern days and is traditionally displayed in the centre of a dining table.

Learn more from Greek mythologies =>>

Prometheus by Gustave Moreau, (1868). Courtesy of Wikipedia

Sisyphus by Titian, Spain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Tantalus by Gioacchino Assereto. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Roman goddess Abundantia with a cornucopia, by Rubens. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Set fire to the rain – Lyrics rewrite

I let it fall, my heart,
And as it fell you rose to claim it
It was dark and I was over
Until you kissed my lips and you saved me

I permit its declivity, my anatomical organ which is responsible for blood circulation.
And whilst the matter descented, thou aroused and authorized it
It sinisterly benighted as I arrived at my own conclusion.
Up to the time you orally impact my labium and you salvaged me

My hands, they’re strong
But my knees were far too weak,
To stand in your arms
Without falling to your feet

The appendages at the end of my limbs are mesomorphic
Nevertheless, my patellas were unproportionally enervated,
To position my body on top of your two upper limbs
And preclude the possibility of gravitating downwards to your two lower limbs

But there’s a side to you
That I never knew, never knew.
All the things you’d say
They were never true, never true,
And the games you play
You would always win, always win.

Nonetheless, there is a flaw of you being a man
That my mental capacity was not at all competent to comprehend
The accumulation of your verbal colloquy did not even possess an iota of veracity
As well as the entertaining activities you have participated.
The declaration of your victory has been perpetuated.

But I set fire to the rain,
Watched it pour as I touched your face,
Well, it burned while I cried
‘Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name!

And I ignite the precipitation
Observe its downward motion
While I make a physical contact to your facial profile
I verbally sighed, it conflagrated while I wet my eyes.
By the reason me perceiving it vociferating out your pseudonym.

When I lay with you
I could stay there
Close my eyes
Feel you here forever
You and me together
Nothing is better

During the time at which I am in a horizontal position on a flat surface with you
I had the possibility to sojourn at that region
Restrict the light from penetrating my pupils
Perceive your eternal presence
The amalgamation of our companies
Not a single entity is more advantageous.

‘Cause there’s a side to you
That I never knew, never knew,
All the things you’d say,
They were never true, never true,
And the games you play
You would always win, always win.

For the reason that there exists a shadow in your perfection.
That I was on no occasion cognizant, cognizant.
The accumulation of your verbal colloquy did not even possess an iota of veracity
As well as the entertaining activities you have participated.
The declaration of your victory has been perpetuated.

But I set fire to the rain,
Watched it pour as I touched your face,
Well, it burned while I cried
‘Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name!

And I ignite the precipitation
Observe its downward motion
While I make a physical contact to your facial profile
I verbally sighed, it conflagrated while I wet my eyes.
By the reason me perceiving it vociferating out your pseudonym.

I set fire to the rain
And I threw us into the flames
When we fell, something died
‘Cause I knew that that was the last time, the last time!

And I ignite the precipitation
Then I directed us toward the ablaze flame with the strength and speed of my arms’ movement
As the time we came down under the influence of gravity, an unidentified object perished.
On account of me acknowledging that it was terminated.

Sometimes I wake up by the door,
That heart you caught must be waiting for you
Even now when we’re already over
I can’t help myself from looking for you.

Periodically I arouse my body into a vertical position adjacent to an egress
That hearty organ which you captured is obligated to linger and anticipate for your beingness.
Albeit the fact that our termination has been currently established
I am not capable to refrain my disposition from aiming for your hereness

I set fire to the rain,
Watched it pour as I touched your face,
Well, it burned while I cried
‘Cause I heard it screaming out your name, your name

And I ignite the precipitation
Observe its downward motion
While I make a physical contact to your facial profile
I verbally sighed, it conflagrated while I wet my eyes.
By the reason me perceiving it vociferating out your pseudonym.

I set fire to the rain,
And I threw us into the flames
When we fell, something died
‘Cause I knew that that was the last time, the last time, ohhhh!

And I ignite the precipitation
Then I projected our bodies into the combustive operation
As the time we collapse under the influence of gravity, an unidentified object perished.
On account of me acknowledging that it was suspended.

Oh noooo
Let it burn, oh
Let it burn
Let it burn

This is a denial exclamation
Permit its combustion, exclamational sound.
Give it sanction to conflagrate
Grant it the authority to incinerate
Ditto the above statement


Some of the words in Mọt Sách, our vocabulary list, have been used in Prison Break. When Đề heard them out, Đề couldn’t be happier.


When Scylla was stolen by Scofield and his gang, the Company’s leaders had an urgent and intense meeting in which one of the card holder questioning the General about his next plan. The General was beating around the bush trying to sell some promising statements when the card holder interrupted, “It is a yes or no question, General… We don’t need a soliloquy”.


The General to comment on the capability of Michael Scofield family “The Scofield-Burrows family would have been a formidable asset to the Company.”


The Company people trying to explain to Mike why his mom left him and his brother for so long: “She left you and your brother to save you. There were threats, you and Lincoln might be kidnapped. You were in imminent danger.”

The last two are words Đề learn from the series.

Jeopardize: to endanger

After breaking out of the River Fox, the convicts came after Charles’ treasure. They disguised as some electricity-water guys to have an excuse digging up the garage. Then Sucre and C-Note walked in with “flawless timing” and without proper “uniforms” on, Michael said “the two of you being here jeopardize everything”.

When Mike and Lincoln were fooled by the home-land security guy Don Self who got away with Scylla, Lincoln Burrows was abducted by Self’s boss and accused of breaking the deal, stealing Scylla and killing two government agents. He roared angrily “Stop thinking about us and focus on Self. Why would we jeopardize our freedom? That’s the only thing we care about.”

Conduit: a mean by which something is transmitted.

After Don Self double backed on his operation sponsors and Michael’s gang, he asked Gretchen for a new buyer of Scylla, Gretchen suggested a conduit, who acts as a middleman bringing them to a real buyer.


I am so determined to write an entry today, thou I haven’t finished what need to be done tonight and will have to wake up early tomorrow.

Looking at our growing list of vocabulary, I can’t wait to expand mine. The more I look at them and more new interesting words I find, the more ambitious I feel. I have always known the English vocabulary is an enormous universe that I can’t even fathom its vastness. Only this tiny list I have has been enough to overwhelm me. I look at them frequently everyday forcing to my brain to memorize one by one, but it seems that my mind is only interested in following my instructions.

I met “decipher” today. Despite the context, I squeezed my mind hardly only to figure out that I knew it. KNEW, not any more.

“De-” as in deduct, decode, decease, etc. That’s easy. But what is “cipher”? It sounds like a character name of some dark maverick sci-fi comic books in my childhood but I can’t remember. Well, as always, my brain is notorious for being oblivious.

So I use the omnipotent power of the giant Google. Turned out, cipher is the mathematical symbol for zero ( I swear I have learnt this somewhere that says cypher means nothing). It can also be understood as a secret message, a monogram, something like that, as what I understand.

Therefore, to decipher is to decode, interprete. Here we go.

I have been English tutoring my little brother recently and our focus is vocabulary. I realize that a new word needs to be extensively ruminated to actually be known and memorized. Five times a week is a moderate amount, just enough to remember the word. And one needs to actually repeatedly read them, meet them, confront them, look them up, use them in a sentence to make them familiar. And what’s better way than putting them in a blog entry? Need to write assiduously.

Story No. 1

The introduction of Weird Stories Category.

This is the section where Bồ and Đề learn English together by sitting down and writing stories. Due to the distance, we use Google Docs for this live activity since it allows simultaneously editing. In the early days of their friendship, Bồ and Đề have composed Mọt Sách, a vocabulary list that consists of all the new “big” words that they wish to learn. Each of them would write one sentence and be able to lead the story as they might. And while doing so, they would have to scroll up and down the list to use as many words from it as possible.

This is the first Weird Story.

I wake up in a prairie, standing not far away is a grotesque creature.

The creature doesn’t notice my presence, it is voraciously imbibing a peculiar muddy liquid.

Where is this place? What time is it? And what is this monster? I am completely oblivious of what’s happening.

Suddenly, the sky darkens, the sunny day has switched to night time in a blink. It must be night, just like how I feel at this very moment, benighted.

Not knowing if this monstrous thing is a friend or an enemy, I think this is an auspicious time to get lost.

In my attempt to escape, I clumsily step on a puddle; making my movement noticeable to the thing. The creature turns around and gives me a baleful look.

I knew it, I always jeopardize myself by being persistently reckless. But before I can blame myself more, its face turns into a warm smile and said to me: “Where’re you going, darling?”

Oh, you think you can just vanish like that? Lemme tell ya, this is my territory. Like, I am the god of this land, you know. Like, I am omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, whatever those words even mean. Like, you know, every little move of yours is in my, like, control.” The thing talks to me, in an extremely annoying high-pitch female or, worse, gay accent.

“The god of this land? I doubt that. Look at you! A sovereign would never have to labour so hard that have such indubitably callous shoulders and palms. Tell me, my dearest lord, what kind god you are? A slavery one?”

The monster demurs for a moment to ruminate my words. One second, two seconds passes. Then it bursts into tears and dashes into the forest. While I feel like I just survive a heart attack, I can hear it yells at me from the deep, “How can you talk to me in such an atrocious manner? I will seek for retaliation.”

What is going on? Who is this sensitive little creature? Despite its rough appearance, it doesn’t seem to be formidable at all, actually quite estimable and eminent instead. But never mind, I still need to find out who I am and where I belong. So I run. Toward the sun .

Then the monster comes back with a couple hundreds of its minions. They attack me and devour me.
The End.


It means people who is pleased to talk about any topic, according to Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. It originates from the noun quodlibet, which is a phylosophical issue or a fine point in an formal argument.

The word seems to be a perfect title for our blog, since it is founded by two enthusiastic quodlibetarians who want to make this a place where we can talk about more than one oriented topic.

The knowing of this word was a total accident. Me, De, while trying to set up the blog and deciding its name, was looking out for words that will describe us best. I think about our common points, interests and habits. One sure thing is that we spent quite an amount of time chatting about any topics coming into our minds. So, I was thinking of some concepts like loquacious or babble or abracadabra, when I remembered the root “loqua” in loquacious means ” to speak”. I looked up to see what else this root can bring me to, but I mistakenly messed up and typed in quo instead. Anddd here we are.

To me, the word has an ancient English sound and image, reminds me of queen, quotient, librarian, etc. It feels vintage, knowledgeable, and somehow annoying. But I’m so pleased with what I found. It’s a bit long thou and I stumble sometimes reading it. Still, it’s just what I needed.

So yeah, that’s how I came up with the blog address. quodlibetarians.wordpress.com.

I also managed to register it as a gmail account. Feel free to contact us via quodlibetariansatgmaildotcom