Long meeting, long words

May 23, 2012|by Annie Linskey

Today's Board of Public Works meeting was about more than just big government contracts, it also became a lesson in big words.

Maryland's Comptroller Peter Franchot kicked off the effort by whipping out "ratiocination," a fancier term for reasoning. The context: Franchot felt that the state was giving St. Mary's County the short shrift on school construction money. Neighboring Calvert and Charles -- represented by two of the state's most powerful senators -- won larger awards, he pointed out.

Officials at the meeting struggled to explain the discrepancy, and Franchot dismissed their arguments as "ratiocination" after the fact.

"It is one of my favorite words," Franchot said. He defined it for audience as "ex post facto rationalization."

Gov. Martin O'Malley picked up from there -- offering a doozy of a word that we couldn't quite catch. We turned to a well placed source in Government House who swiftly provided an answer: The governor's favorite word is floccinaucinihilipilification. It is a noun and, somewhat ironically, it means unimportant.

As the meeting dragged on, more people wanted to get in on the action. An advocate for minority contracts chipped in with "antidisestablishmentarianism."

Our favorite word at The Baltimore Sun? It's not a hard one to spell, but we don't hear nearly as often as we would like: YES.

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