Day three and we’re only up to the H’s? I’ve got time to make up. If you’re late to class, I’m explaining the origin and usage of various uncommon words that have been used on Magic cards. Pay attention, there will be a quiz later.
One who wields a halberd, duh. A halberd (or Swiss voulge, if you happen to be in Zurich) is a long pike with an axe-head at the end and, in the hands of Swiss armies — yes, Swiss armies, they were actually once a very fearsome fighting force — halberdiers could carve through both mounted and armored opponents with ease. The name most likely comes from old German words for staff and axe.
There are multiple definitions, but the most appropriate one is that of a mythical kingfisher-like bird that supposedly had the power to calm the winds and the seas. The birds on Halcyon Glaze look nothing like kingfishers (I’m not entirely sure what they are, period), but that’s a quibble with the artists. When used as an adjective, halcyon means content, calm, happy, e.g. halcyon days, which I’ve never experienced with Halcyon Glaze — that card has been the death of me in many a triple Ravnica queue.
A heath is an expanse of lowlands covered by low-growing vegetation, generally shrubs. Found frequently in oddly-spelled Scottish poetry. See also heather, which comes from heath.
Definition A (an evil curse or spell) has nothing to do with Definition B (a prefix for the number six, e.g. hexagon). Still, the actual card Hex has a nice you-got-your-peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate feel to it, so I won’t complain excessively. There’s a finite infinity of letter combinations, so it’s inevitable that there will be some overlap.
Definition A comes from hexe, coined by the German-Swiss immigrants to Pennsylvania from hexen, “to practice sorcery.” Definition B comes straight from the Greek for six, hex.
The term comes from the Greek hecaton, meaning 100; a hecatomb was the sacrifice of 100 cattle to the gods, it has now come to mean any great sacrifice or slaughter. Those four creatures you have to sacrifice seems pretty weak in comparison.
The broadest meaning is that of a high priest or similar official, and comes from the Greek term meaning the same. In modern times, the term hierarch has been replaced in western Christian churches by ordinary, which really does seem rather ordinary. Eastern Christian churches still use hierarch, bless their anachronistic hearts.
Even more archaic than hierarch is this term, again from the Greek, which refers to a mystagogue or “one who interprets sacred mysteries.” D&D players will be much more familiar with this term, as if you could get a Druid up to Hierophant-class… well, then, you’d have something. It can refer to a high priest but the title is more nebulous than that.
Don’t Homarids kind of look like lobster-people? I’m assuming that’s where the name homarid comes from, as lobsters are of the family Homiridae. Some are also of the family Nephropidae, but I guess nephropid didn’t have the same ring.
Can either be a fetus, a midget, dwarf or otherwise small person, or an alchemically created dwarf. Pinocchio, a homunculus? Could be. In the D&D world, a wizard can create a homunculus to serve as a familiar. You can find the two Homunculi in the Magic pantheon and decide for yourself which definition best fits.
Hyalopterous means “having glassy or transparent wings.” Now that’s an archaic term. The story has been well told by now, but the Lemurs in question were really supposed to be lemures, spirits of the dead from Roman mythology, and noted D&D baddies, but somewhere along the line the communication got a bit garbled.
Now, lemurs are very acrobatic and can jump a great distance, but flight? Right out. No great pointy teeth, either.
Pertaining to the characteristics of fire, or referring to rocks formed of volcanic origins. The word ignite comes from the same Latin root word, ignis.
It has many different meanings, but the most common one is “a really, really big fire.” It comes from the Latin infernus, meaning “from underneath,” as one of its alternate meanings is a synonym for Hell.
Anyone belonging to a non-organized military outfit is referred to as an irregular; it can also refer to the non-standard military techniques employed by these units. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Holmes would frequently employ the services of street urchins for various errands; they were called the Baker Street Irregulars, a name adopted by a prominent group of Holmes enthusiasts, and I’d be remiss if didn’t mention my membership in the Blue Blaze Irregulars.
Now that I think of it, it’s been a long time since I heard from the Banzai Institute…
Noxious, bad-smelling. The skunk’s Latinized nomenclature is Mephitis mephitis. Overly simple but it gets the point across.
It’s a tricky one to pronounce. It’s knee-MON-ick, the first M is silent. Sort of. We’ll save it for Linguistics 401. Mnemonics pertains to assisting memory, for example, using the acronym Roy G. Biv to remember the seven colors of the visible spectrum is called a mnemonic device. In Greek mythology, Mnemosyne was one of the Titans and mother of the nine Muses.
For a very brief time, between the death of the dinosaurs and before the rise of the mammals, ratites — giant flightless birds — were the top predators on this planet, so a Hunting Moa isn’t that much of a stretch. Moas are extinct in our end of the multiverse, but other species, such as ostriches, emus, and rheas still survive, and when you look at you with those giant red eyes, I’ll wager that they’re thinking “if I didn’t have this puny beak, human, you would be so lunch.”
A remora is a kind of fish that will attach itself to other larger fish, often sharks or rays, and eat the leftover scraps when the larger animal feeds. But that’s not what this entry is about. Prophecy had a series of spells called “rhystic,” which worked very similarly to Mystic Remora’s ability, and the word came from the reversal of letters in Mystic Remora. This type of reversal is known as a spoonerism, so named for the Reverend William Archibald Spooner, who was well known for these slips of the tongue (or tips of the slung). I’ve found that the older I get, the more I’m prone to these “but-gusting” phrases. Early onset senility sucks, man.
A corruption of the Indian title nawab, it refers to any powerful, rich or influential person in society. Former vice president Spiro Agnew once derisively referred to the press as “nattering nabobs of negativism,” before pleading nolo contendere to tax evasion charges, and people who like to use big words in prison often find out what the acronym PMITA stands for, right quick. Or so I have been told.
Another name for mother-of-pearl, the iridescent interior found in the shells of some mollusks, most notably abalone.
We’re halfway through the alphabet now. I said pay attention! No sleeping in class! Those who are not in class tomorrow… do not get fruit cup!