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Filibuster, cathedral, obvious, slapstick (comedy)

Created date

March 22nd, 2018

Filibuster

The term “filibuster” is most appropriate following California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s marathon hijacking of the House floor in February. Quite simply, a “filibuster” is when a member of Congress rambles on interminably about a particular topic to delay or otherwise entirely obstruct the decision-making process.

Known within legislative circles as “talking a bill to death,” the practice was named “filibuster” after the Dutch word “vrijbuiter,” or “freebooter,” the term for a pillaging adventurer. Similarly defined variations exist in Spanish (“filibustero”) and French (“flibustier”), ultimately giving rise to the Anglicized version used today.

Especially in this case, knowing the origin of the word gives one a new, not so lustrous impression of the practice.

“The senator’s filibuster spanned a record-breaking ten hours.”

Cathedral

Cathedrals in any country are grand structures, ornate in design and heavily adorned. This style is fitting given the word’s origin.

The term “cathedral” comes from the Greek “kathedra,” which means a seat or chair. Because most of these buildings are the seats of acting bishops, the Greek derivation fits.

“On a trip to Washington, you must visit the National Cathedral.”

Obvious

Here’s another one from the classics. “Obviously,” that which is “obvious,” is plain to see; it’s right in front of us.

The term comes from the Latin “obviare,” the infinitive meaning “to meet in the road.” In other words, if it’s right in the middle of the road, it’s “obvious.”

“It’s pretty obvious what obvious means.”

Slapstick (comedy)

The term “slapstick” comes from a tactic long used by circus clowns to get laughs. Originally, the “slapstick” was a device that comprised two sticks bound together.

When slapped, the sticks made a loud noise which, combined with some form of exaggerated physical humor, elicited laughter from the audience.

In time, the word became a reference to any sort of physical comedy.

“The Three Stooges were masters of slapstick comedy.”

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