SCG Daily Shot — What’s In A Name, Part 2

Our magical mystery tour through the ancient and arcane is only beginning! Admit it, this is much more interesting than Sesame Street (but not The Electric Company — The Easy Reader rules, man). We’re just starting with the C’s now in explaining the origins of Magic card names, so it’s not too late to catch up!

If you tuned in yesterday, we’d just started going over the meaning and origins of various names of Magic cards. Some you may know, many you may not. We’re just starting with the C’s now, so it’s not too late to catch up.

A cabal (kuh-BAL, not KAY-bull, so saith Dave the logofascist) is a small group of secret plotters, or refers to the machinations of such a group. The term is believed to be derived from Hebrew Kaballah, mystical interpretations of the Torah.

There you have it! Proof that Madonna wants to take over the world.

A column carved in the shape of a woman, supporting a roof or other structure. A column shaped in the shape of a man is called a “telemon” or “atlas.” We’ve had two Caryatids in Magic so far – how about some love for the telemones, Creative?

I mean that, of course, in a strictly platonic fashion.

See Anurid. Squids and octopi are cephalopods, meaning “head foot,” which is really about all they are when you think about it.

Kind of sounds like “surgeon,” doesn’t it? Give yourself a gold star, as this archaic term is the origin of the modern word surgeon, and itself comes from the Greek cheirourgia, meaning “hand work.” Bonus points if you’ve ever used it in a sentence that did not use the word “Goblin” as well.

From the Greek kylix, it’s a shallow bowl with two handles used as a drinking cup. Great for wine, inadvisable for coffee. Both spellings are acceptable, but if spelled with a “C” it’s a soft c (SIGH-licks).

Crash of Rhinos
The English language has some of the most wonderfully descriptive descriptions of animals in groups (generically referred to as a venery). It also has some real mindbenders. Yes, indeed, a group of rhinos is correctly referred to as a “crash.” Other good examples not yet utilized by Creative include a murder of crows, an exaltation of larks, a congress of eagles, a parliament of owls, a quiver of cobras, a fesnying of ferrets, and a skulk of foxes, just to name a scant few.

Sadly, many of these terms are entering the realm of the archaic and forgotten. Do your Guy Montag duty and memorize a few. So, should you come across a fesnying of ferrets, you can both correctly identify them and get odd stares and bewildered glances from your friends.

(Fortunately, there is only one Ferrett – The Ferrett, alone in a crowd)

Broadly, a pickpocket, more specifically, one who steals by cutting purses off belts. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, this word means exactly what you think it means.

This one comes to us from the Romans, and originally meant “to reduce by one-tenth” (deci = ten), but now means any large-scale defeat or destruction, most likely more than just ten percent.

Either way you look at it, though, the card still bites.

One of my favorite words of all-time, it means to confuse or to frustrate. It’s a 19th century Americanism, an alteration of either discompose or discomfort, and something I can imagine the 19th century version of Dan Patrick coining. “We’ll be back with more ninepins and buggy races on SportsCentre after this brief message from Pequod Whale Oil.”

All power to the umlaut! It literally means “double goer” auf Deutsch, and vernacularly means “an evil twin.” It’s also a word that found its way into the English language with no translational changes whatsoever (although the umlaut is frequently dropped). These oddities are known as loanwords.

Meaning “a bad place” in the most literal sense, a dystopia refers to the opposite of a utopia, and in modern usage, means a repressive or totalitarian government. Oddly enough, utopia literally means “no place”; the word eutopia more correctly means “good place.”

There are only three words in the English language that have both a “q” and an “x” in them. Equinox is one of them. Can you name the other two? (Different words from the same root don’t count.)

That smell you get when you take off your socks after playing basketball for three hours? Your feet are fetid, a.k.a. “foul-smelling and malodorous.” There’s a reason you see this word on Zombie cards quite frequently, as all the Old Spice in the world isn’t going to make them socially presentable.

This is pronounced with a soft “g,” and it means cold – very, very cold. From the Latin gelidus, meaning “frost.” Both the noun and verb gel come from gelidus. That “antigelid venom” that runs through the Ohran Viper’s blood better be frickin’ antifreeze.

An ancient order of crocodilian with a much narrower, toothy jaw than its reptilian cousins, primarily native to the Indian subcontinent. You can’t get eaten by a gharial, as they’re primarily piscivores – which might explain the puny 1/1 stats.

A glaive is either a sword or a stick with a pointy thing on the end. It is not a boomeranging shuriken-doohickey. That was Krull, and in addition to being MST3K-bad, it was dead wrong. To review: Auriok Glaivemaster = correct. Krull = two hours of your life you won’t get back.

Can be a grapheme, or a more complex character indicating a word or words, i.e. hieroglyphs.

Watch that prefix hiero-; it will be popping up again soon.

In Jewish folklore, a golem was an artificial construct – usually a statue or other sculptured figure – in the form of a person and endowed with life. It can also refer to an idiot or simpleton.

That would probably be the Thran Golem, but don’t tell him; it’ll hurt his feelings. He’s very sensitive, you know. Next thing you know, he’ll be off pining with the Tar Pit Cyclops, watching Oprah and scarfing down Haägen-Dazs.

It’s a book for performing magic, the dark arts. Evil Dead’s Necronomicon would be an example of a grimoire. (Whereas attributing the Necronomicon to Evil Dead is an example of a travesty – The Ferrett, Lovecraft purist)

Curiously, grimoire shares the same linguistic roots as the English words grammar and glamour, a glamour being a magic spell or enchantment, as my wife the big-time fantasy novel reader reminded me.

Our magical mystery tour through the ancient and arcane is only beginning! Admit it, this is much more interesting than Sesame Street (but not The Electric Company – The Easy Reader rules, man).