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Three Words I Learned this Month – Photoperiod, Logophile, and Apricity

I’ve enjoyed writing for many years. I'm dedicating more time to the craft in my retirement days.

Schatzi with a deer antler she found out on a walk with her owner.

Schatzi with a deer antler she found out on a walk with her owner.

Photoperiod

My closest lifelong friend sent me this fantastic picture one day and we chatted about how proud his dog Schatzi was of her find while out on their morning walk. This is both a wonderful shot and such a great treasure! I’m told he let Schatzi gnaw on it for a while. That might shock some antler shed hunters, but I think it’s great. Schatzi deserved a reward for all her troubles.

In late winter here in the United States—and generally after hunting season is closed almost everywhere across the land—deer, elk and moose start to shed their antlers. When they do, multitudes of animals—including dogs, sometimes, of course—will find them. Many take the antlers back to their lair and eat them because they are so full of nutrients. Among the critters who will eat shed antlers are: bears, chipmunks, coyotes, deer, dogs, foxes, ground hogs, mice, opossums, porcupines, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels and wolves.

When I saw the note and picture from my friend Don that day, it made me wonder what triggered the shed each year. This, as it turns out, is how I came upon the word photoperiod (which I had to Google to completely understand). It boils down to this: photoperiod is the amount of time there is light during a given day. What that means, then, is that it’s different every single day—only by minutes, mind you, but it is different each day. It also means the word can be used to describe the amount of time there is darkness during a given day.

photoperiod

: a recurring cycle of light and dark periods of constant length

— m-w.com

This word, then, can be used to describe the annual cycle we know all too well: from June-December daylight hours wane daily until the 21st of December or so, and then they wax from December to the following June. Decrease. Increase. Repeat. Like it or not, the cycle perpetuates.

How photoperiodism relates to Schatzi’s find is best summarized like this: “decreasing daylight and increasing testosterone levels cause antlers to grow, mineralize and shed velvet. Increasing daylight and decreasing testosterone levels cause antlers to fall off each winter.” In other words, “the growth, [hardening] and [dropping] of a buck's antlers are controlled by hormones and regulated by photoperiod, the amount of light per day.” [1]

Update

Update: Just two days after finding the antler shown in the picture above, Schatzi found its mate in a location some 20 feet away. My buddy says the separation wound was still pink and fresh on both of these antlers. Pretty incredible find!

logophile

: a lover of words

— m-w.com

Logophile

My dad was a logophile. My older sister, too. And so was Ursula K. Le Guin, in my estimation.

I believe I have inherited some of my dad’s curiosity about words and word origin, but I don’t know that I could really be considered a logophile. I’m not in the same league with my dad and my sister, anyway. I can tell you that much.

And, nothing against the two of them and their considerable vocabularies and knowledge of words, but neither were they in the same league with Ursula Le Guin. She was in a league of her own, as they say.

I’ve looked and looked for the reference, but have been unable to find it: I know I read somewhere in the last decade or so an interview with Ms. Le Guin where the interviewer asked her, “What’s your favorite word?”

“I like them all,” she said, and then quickly moved on to the next topic.

I wish I could find that blurb again, but I searched for many hours this past week to no avail. If you happen to know of it, encounter it one day, please drop me a note in the comments below, or send me an e-mail. I know she said it, because when I read it, I remember thinking: I bet she knows them all, too!

Whether she did or not, though, I recently found more evidence of her quite extensive vocabulary while reading an interview included at the end of her book The Wild Girls.

In reference to Aeneas, a character who plays the major role in her book Lavinia, the interviewer asks Ursula: “Do you like him better than Ulysses? Or Achilles?”

Her response: “Ulysses is way too complicated to just like or dislike, but Achilles really turns me off. Sulky little egocentric squit.”

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Ursula Le Guin - Photo by Marian Wood Kolisch

Ursula Le Guin - Photo by Marian Wood Kolisch

I suppose if you’re British you might know and understand the word squit, but…well, let’s just say that 1) it, too, gets underlined with a red squiggly line when I type it on my word processor, and 2) I had to look it up to learn that it meant “a person of low status.” I could tell by context and usage it was clearly derogatory, but it was still quite new to me so I Googled it right away.

And that’s what makes me realize perhaps I might just be part logophile after all. I find I really can’t help myself from grabbing phone, tablet or laptop when my eyes or ears meet a word I never encountered before. Too, these days it is easier to love words, to be a lover of words than it was in an era of strictly analog dictionaries. And that's because it is so much easier to get to know words intimately in this digital information age we're living in.

apricity

: the warmth of the sun in winter

— https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/winter-words

Apricity

This word, apricity, appeared in an e-mail I received from the mothership this week. It looks like whoever is responsible for putting together HubPages Weekly found the same Merriam-Webster website I did, thus providing only the following explanation:

"Despite the fact that it is a delightful word for a delightful thing, it never quite caught on, and will not be found in any modern dictionary aside from the Oxford English Dictionary."

As if to demonstrate the point, the word returns a null when you go to m-w.com and type it in. The null looks like this:

three-words-i-learned-this-month-photoperiod-logophile-and-apricity

*It tickles me to see duplicity on the bottom of this list. It’s as if, I guess, I might have grossly misspelled the word I was really thinking of and typed dupl instead of apr. Hey, I guess that could happen!

Anyway…it seems Microsoft Word’s dictionary agrees with the Merriam-Webster proclamation. To wit: every time I type the word apricity, the spell check software underscores it with a red squiggly line, like this:

three-words-i-learned-this-month-photoperiod-logophile-and-apricity

For those reasons, I won’t challenge the veracity of the claim that apricity is included in the Oxford English Dictionary and no other. Instead, I will say this: it is nothing short of wildly inaccurate to say that apricity has not caught on. In fact, I think a solid case can be made for including it in just about any old dictionary from here on out. Indeed, after doing my research on the word for this article, I’m a bit surprised I’d not heard of it before this week. Here’s just a small sampling of what I found:

Apricity is everything from a girl’s name; to a major provider of shared services for health care industry businesses; to a Facebook space for substance abuse recovery; to a magazine of literary, visual and performing arts, and video games.

Apricity Health is an online cancer care monitoring and treatment utility, and Shop Apricity is an online dress shop. Apricity Outdoor Living sells patio furniture so you can bask in the sun on your back porch, and Sweet Apricity sells peppermint marshmallows, sea salt caramels and other goodies. These might be particularly tempting after you receive your shipment of “high-quality water-soluble hemp-derived cannabinoids” from Apricity Collective.

In short, then, apricity is out there being used. It has, in my estimation, actually “caught on” despite protestations to the contrary. Indeed, Google SERPs contain many, many more results than the few interesting ones I’ve chosen to highlight above.

Hey Merriam-Webster, if you’re listening: I think you might want to reconsider your stance on apricity.

One interesting side note (ok, I think it’s an interesting side note): the word apricate doesn’t get me a squiggly red underline on my Word program, but it also doesn’t have a precise definition. Neither my word processing software’s database nor Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary provides a definition for the word. Further, the returns from m-w.com on apricate are even funnier than apricity. I encourage you to check that out at your leisure.

What I found in my research, though, is that the Latin word apricus, meaning “sunny, sunshine, being open to the sun,” and so forth…that word is fairly common, as well, and so it’s generally agreed on all forums I was able to find that the verb apricate means what you think it means: to sunbathe, to bask in the sun, and so forth.

I’d really love to apricate today, but right now we have anything and everything but apricity here in Idaho. The fog is thick in the AM and the clouds are heavy in the PM. Here's what it looks like at the time of writing this article:

three-words-i-learned-this-month-photoperiod-logophile-and-apricity

Here’s hoping that wherever you are, you have opportunity to apricate on this day and for many more winter days to come.

Be safe, be well, and hope you enjoyed learning more about these three words, too. They're new to me if not to you!

Sources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 greg cain

Comments

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on February 01, 2021:

Logophile is the only one I have heard of. But thanks for making me aware of the other two. "Apricity" really has a ring to it, let's use it everywhere so it gets included in every dictionary. A good set of antlers your friend's dog found too. Thanks for the wonderful read.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 01, 2021:

Apricity is now my favorite word. It used to be quintessential, but I think apricity is now in the top spot thanks to you. I'm waiting patiently so I can feel some of that apricity, you know? It's hard to find here in Olympia.

Fun read, buddy! Happy February to you!

Ann Carr from SW England on February 01, 2021:

I looked up 'apricity' when you used it in one of your hubs! I think it's a great word. And bringing back old words, or words that have gone 'out of favour' is a crusade of mine. Just read Robert Macfarlane's book called 'Landmarks' and you'll see what I mean (or read my hub about it!).

I did know logophile - cos I'm one of those, even though there are many words I do not know the meaning of.

Lovely photo of the dog plus antlers - I bet there aren't many photos like that! Amazing that the other was found too.

Great article and the sort we should see more often.

Ann

Ivana Divac from Serbia on February 01, 2021:

I really enjoyed reading your article! Like always, you have great writing style and interesting topics. I like to learn something new every day, so I appreciate this. I like the definition for the word photoperiod. Thanks for sharing!

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