Nice and Egregious: Shifted Meanings

Recently C pointed me to a blog post about the etymology of the word ‘Egregious’. This is especially relevant to me, as you may guess, because of the title I chose for this blog: ‘Sometimes Egregious, Always Gregarious’.

At the time I chose the title, I thought that ‘egregious’ and ‘gregarious’ were almost anagrams of each other, and were only one letter apart. Hence the ‘one letter can make a word of difference'[1]. It turns out that you need to replace the ‘e’ in ‘egregious’ with the ‘ar’ in ‘gregarious’, but I think it’s still apropos and funny.

Anyways, etymology. I also chose the words ‘egregious’ and ‘gregarious’ because I feel they describe me. ‘Egregious’ because I’m often pushing the boundaries[2], or going the ‘third mile'[3]. ‘Gregarious’ because I like talking to people, saying random things when I walk up to strangers. (Come to think of it, ‘Garrulous’ might be better in some situations, but it doesn’t anagram quite as well. Also, it implies a talking requirement that I don’t always fulfill.)

So, now you know more than you thought you needed to about how this blog came to have its title. I hope you’re happy[4].

[1]The phrase ‘One letter can make a word of difference’ came from P, from his rotating .sig file during undergrad. It was routinely a source of wonder for me.

[2]’Pushing the boundaries’ was the motto for my undergrad program, Engineering Science. I enjoy doing this in many ways, the most socially acceptable probably being attempting to solve problems with stupid and outlandish suggestions.

[3]My grandfather was part of the 3T5 class, which decided to give back to the community by instituting a ‘Second Mile’ award. The ‘First Mile’ is the things you normally do, working at work and the things you do at home. The ‘Second Mile’ is ‘going the extra mile’ in service to the community. Our class decided to have an ad hoc ‘Third Mile’ award, which is awarded when ‘You’ve gone too far’.

[4]Really, I do. 😀

3 thoughts on “Nice and Egregious: Shifted Meanings

    1. I had herd of this Greg. Also punny is the idea of a flock/herd rising above a herd/herd.

      I also enjoy that ‘egregious’ arose from late 16thC irony: “Disapproving sense, now predominant, arose late 16c., originally ironic.”

      I had noticed the similarity, but would never have thought that that they would be related in any way.

      On an unrelated note, I really enjoy the idea that you can learn a lot about the history of the peoples of a place through the place names that have persisted through many cultures having settled there. I can’t find the reference right now, but I’ve read that place names for things like rivers are very ‘sticky’, and often persist after the language that spawned them has been long forgotten.

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