Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

The word for the day is "Spavined"

Among the reasons I'm a fan of Harlan Ellison -- beyond his ferocious writing style, his almost pathological honesty, and his being good friends with several friends and acquaintances of mine (he's "done solids" for many people I'm fond of) -- is his vast, nay, voluminous vocabulary.

Today the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is spavined. I'd only seen the word once before, in Harlan's 1985 short story "Paladin of the Lost Hour":
This was an old man. Not an incredibly old man, obsolete, spavined; not as worn as the swayback stone steps ascending the Pyramid of the Sun to an ancient temple; not yet a relic. But even so, a very old man, this old man...*
You know the meaning from the context, but to be thorough, here's how Merriam-Webster defines it:
\SPAV-ind\, adjective; Meaning 1: affected with spavin [bony enlargements on a horse's hocks], 2: old and decrepit : over-the-hill. Example Sentence: There is no point in expecting the spavined Arts Council to do more than sponsor the same stale events and shopworn fund-raisers.
Merriam-Webster could've used Harlan's line.
* Quoted not from the text, but from the CD of Harlan's reading of it. So I don't know if I got the punctuation quite right...
Tags: harlan, language

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