Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday Word: Penumbra

Special message from Sierra's Blog:
Dear Readers,
I want to thank everyone for putting up with the rash of typos and sloppy execution in Sierra's post yesterday. I don't know. I don't know. Sometimes it's downright painful being her blog. This is why I drink.

Love and kisses,
Sierra's Blog
Now, back to our regularly scheduled post.


Thanks to everyone who participated in last week's Annual Wednesday Word Drive, which you can still participate in, yes, yes! Although that post was a total and complete cop-out as far as post-writing goes, many of you came through magnificently and left some great words in the comments. Also, I might have been slightly misleading when I promised that I would write a story using the word. What I will do, however, is write something. Yes! Something.

Anyway, this week's word comes courtesy of the enigmatic JCK Ferreiro, who, I have surmised, works in marketing like me. JCK suggested penumbra. This is, admittedly, a word I'd never heard of, but which sounds totally fun to say. Penumbra! I'm going knock the penumbra out of you! (Except that would be silly, because that is not what penumbra means.)

Penumbra means many things having to do with space apparently, none of which I really understood (I was in a breezy mood when looking), but the easiest meaning to understand was a shroud that covers or obscures. Ah, obscures! Yes, now if penumbra means to obscure, then we have something interesting indeed. At right is a photo showing a dense plasma penumbra.(Riii-gggh-tt.)

Even more interesting is that a Google search for penumbra reveals a bunch of companies (.com, .net, .org, etc) with it as their business name. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't want to do business with a penumbra. What kind of secrets is the business hiding? What is the business shrouding or obscuring? Penumbra Literary Agency....not so much.

How do we use penumbra? Well, when we want to be nice-sounding smarty pantses. We say, "A penumbra of shadows caressed the room." (Or not. That's some pure malarkey there.) Or we just sort of use it...when we want to be creative with the idea of obscuring, surrounding, or shrouding. But note that there is a definite creepy element to the word. I don't want hordes of fans creating a human penumbra around me while I'm, say, signing books. That would frighten me.

Did you know how to use this pretty (but creepy) word? Can you use it now?

P.S. I had an argument with the blog last night about some things, so if anything weird shows up in this post, just totally ignore it.

13 comments:

reberto.alberto said...

Hi there!

Shortstorybook.net is organizing a short story writing contest.

We do think that you too might have a marvelous story to tell, one that is your own! So if you can compose it in not more than few words, we would want to hear from you. Also, you stand a chance to get your story published on our site and win cash prize of USD 100.

“Then what are you waiting for? …put on your thinking cap and get writing. For registration and other information check - http://bit.ly/short-story-contest-2010

Happy writing!

Sierra Godfrey said...

Oh, Reberto Alberto, thank you for commenting. What a penumbra of a comment--and very appropriate!! I have many stories to tell all of which involve marketing ploys. I'll get right on this one.

Tawna Fenske said...

A spam comment...you have arrived! Had someone on my blog the other day trying to sell fake Rolex watches. Suffice it to say, I hustled right out and bought 12 (as did all my readers, I'm certain).

Tawna

Sierra Godfrey said...

I KNOW RIGHT?!? I am LOVING THIS!! Humbert Humbert has swayed me totally with the strange use of quotation marks. Who is saying "Then what are you waiting for?" Or is it sarcasm-- a little laugh at my story-writing expense? Now THAT would be a good story.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

Come on, wouldn't you want someone judging your writing who can themselves write as well as Reberto Alberto? Here's my short story for the contest in "not more than a few words": go f off!

I also like how the website R.A. links to is hidden behind the penumbra (see what I did there?) of bit.ly - likely so you cannot easily identify the malware that launches when you go there.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Good thing I didn't click. Cripes alive.

Mia said...

Penumbra *nods* *jots down* I like that....

*blinks* I'm sorry Reb, but did you just QUOTE YOURSELF there at the end of that and then FORGET TO CLOSE THE QUOTE??

Reb, I love you really. Honestly I do, but GEEZ. Never FORGET TO CLOSE QUOTATION MARKS AROUND WRITERS. You nearly KILLED me there, old chum.

IMAGINE WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO SIERRA. THINK OF HER NERVES, MAN, THINK OF HER NERVES.

p.s. I am slightly insulted that you think I don't a story that is my own to tell and I'm simply taking somebody else's tale and running with it. Where is your FAITH, man?? I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS

Mia said...

*coughs* that bit after the p.s. should read "I don't have a story that is MY own"

See Reb? Around here we OWN UP to the typos.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

Oh, I don't know for sure what happens when you click there. I'm just thinking of reasons why some spam commenter would want to hide the URL they are sending you to, and that's one that came to mind.

Jck said...

OMG! Sierra!!! You did PENUMBRA! And I just see it today! oh! me lazy, i know!!!

Jck said...

Well, I know I got here late and all. One thing I need to confess, I'm Argentinean-Floridian.
So Penumbra means the area surrounded by the shadows, in Spanish! That’s its meaning, but it refers to a big big area and dark, dense shadows.
Its use is pretty popular in Spanish literature, for the creepy descriptions or gloomy emotions.
Borges used it a lot!
What I love about this word is that is exactly the same in Spanish and English, and it spells the same too! *tears up like a baby*

atsiko said...

"penumbra"- "pen"=nearly and "umbra"=darkness. A penumbra is a partial blocking of a light source, generally a celecstial body, and also one of the three parts of a shadow. Partial eclipses result in a penumbra, for example.


Yeah, just finished an astronomy course. :)

Anyway, haven't commented for awhile, but I still read you.

Sierra Godfrey said...

JCK -- totes, and it was so fun to use this word!!

I love that it means the same thing in Spanish and English. How neat.

Atsiko -- thank you for being so faithful. Thanks for the etymology. Love it!

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