Challenging Word of the Week (April 24)

Greetings word lovers! If it's Monday, then that means it's time for another Challenging Word of the Week!

This week's word is jactation. If you're not already familiar with it, take a guess as to its definition. Does jactation mean:

A) To brag or boast    

B) To tell a grandiose lie

C) To compliment another to the point of embarrassment

Before I reveal the meaning of this week's word, I'd like to take a brief pause and remind you that these challenging words come to you from the Butter Lamb Reference Library and the book, 2000 Most Challenging and Obscure Words, by Norman W. Schur. 

So, without further delay, here is the answer to this week's challenging word: A) to brag or boast. However, this week's word was kind of tricky as, according to Mr. Schur, it has "two distinct meanings." Here's the 411 from the author.

Jactation (ak TAY shun )n. Jactation has two totally distinct meanings. It is bragging boasting, like braggadocio, fanfaronade, gasconade, rodomontade, and thrasonical bchavior in general, There would seem to be no end of words for this human weakness. Jactation comes from Latin jactatio (boasting. ostentation ), related to jactatus, past participle of jactare (to boast). 

But jactate and its Latin sources all wear another hat: In pathology, jactation is nervous, restless tossing about, convulsive body movements, because Latin jactare also means "nervous, restless tossing about," and only by transference to "broadcast" words, to fling them about, and thus, to "boast." 

To complicate matters, there is a confusingly similar term, jactitation (jak tih TAY shun), which is a legal term for a false boast or claim that causes harm to another and can lead to a lawsuit;, and this word, too, has a distinct meaning identical with that second meaning of jactation: "tossing about." Here the source is Middle Latin jactitatio (tossing), related to jactitatus, past participle of jactitare (to keep tossing about). To sum up: jactation and jactitation are identical in the terminology of pathology: to "toss about"; otherwise, jactation is boasting, pure and simple, while jactitation is the false and harmful variety. Apart from the medical symptoms jactate all you want, if you're silly enough to brag: but stop short of jactitating or you may land in court.

Well, there you have it. Come back in about seven days for another challenging word of week! Or, maybe comeback sooner for more exciting content from the Butter Lamb Resource Library!

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