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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Felicitous Felinity (9)—Nocent

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series Felicitous Felinity.
A year ago on Round and Square (14 July 2012)—Asian Ethnicities: Korea (a)
Two years ago on Round and Square (14 July 2011)—La Tour de la France: The Path Through the Forest

[a] Innocents Aboard RF

There's a decent chance that you are thinking of "docent," but that little rhyme is for another day. You see in nocent, we have a word we sort-of-recognize from a far more common word. In nocent, we see harm, but that other seems to have a gentler meaning. In...nocent. Hmmm. I'll think of it in a minute.
[b] Chocolate RF

Nope. It makes nocence.

"Nocent" is toxic, noxious, harmful, and vile, like poison blowfish...or hot dogs. Danger lies everywhere in the Empire of Nocence, and in the Land of the Kitties, no greater harm lurks than with chocolate and open toilet lids. Just a sniff of cacao snaps away three of the nine lives. Be gentle, kind staff member, and think to piscine, bovine, and porcine forms of cat-cuisine.

It's a big NO...cence to chocolate. The product's nocency is well-known in the world of feline stewardship (this is what we call people who think that they "own" cats). As I like to say, "...chocolate kills kitties, dead." Stay away from it, sweet, saber-tooth. The formerly feral little hunters no longer know its nocence. They are innocents awash in the world of chocolates.
[c] Riveted RF

Now, in no sense am I speaking of Mark Twain or Edith Wharton. In fact, the warm tones of their book titles have an antonymic relationship to that of "nocent" or "nocence." 

"Nonsense," you say? 

Well, think about it. How many mean, harmful, vicious cats do you know? Well, that depends on your perspective, of course. Our chipmunk brothers and sisters cry "nocence" when they see feline versions of LeBron James powering nimbly into their space(s). Zebra friends on the veld say the same of the emperors of the jungle


But there are few worries with household-kitties. Nocence may lurk all around them, but they do not pose great dangers themselves (although many of them somehow seem to like to think that they do). No, nocent is that open window on the nineteenth floor of the apartment building. Somehow, kitty makes it, but the dangers lurk everywhere.
[d] Danger stare RF

Nocent. I get nervous even thinking about it.

American Heritage Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary**
**(Beloit College students and faculty: this is available through the library. Many other RSQ readers may find the link through a college, university, or local library). The "OED" is the best, by far, of any English language dictionary on the planet. Among mere mortals, the American Heritage is superior to anything else (I have loved it since I was a child, and my father taught me the many meanings of "culture"). I use the Merriam-Webster site because it is solid and everyone around the world can access it. Find your way to AHD or OED, though. The latter is even worth $295 a year (seriously). Words matter.
***  ***
Nocent—harmful, dangerous, scary.
[e] Les yeux dangereux RF

Now we come to the little twist that I didn't tell you about in the introduction to this series. If your native language is not English, go to the comments section and give a rough translation that "works" for you. I am hoping to get a whole passel of approximations for "nocent" in languages ranging from Croatian and Hindi to Portuguese and Thai. And of course they will be approximations. Language doesn't have any exact equivalents. That would be boring (try to find a synonym for the Czech word bubak, for scary-monster-hiding-under-the-child's bed's sake.

So what's a word that means something like "harmful, noxious, scary" in your native language?

And, if you really want to think about how to make use of vocabulary, use a sentence that you might actually speak or write.

          From the perspective of university administrators, Monsieur Vipère was 
          among the most nocent of docents they had ever employed. Every word 
          in his lectures stung with rebuke, and even the students grew alarmed.

Nocent. It's as scary as that monster hiding in your closet. Cats understand this. 

You don't. Czech the closet.
[f] Monster sighting RF

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