Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Word Encounter

I like words. I like knowing what words mean. When I encounter a word I'm unfamiliar with I think to myself, how do you not know this? (In case you're wondering, I can be a bit hard on myself. Perhaps even to the point of demanding perfection. It's a small problem.) I'm not actually upset that I don't know a word, but I feel that I ought to know or at least be able to deduce what the word means, which isn't always the case.

This evening I was finishing up reading a book of essays edited by Anne Fadiman--previously mentioned in a post that included her book of essays Ex Libris--called Rereadings. As I was reading I came across a word that the boyfriend tossed my way about this time last year. Blitzkrieg. I don't know if I'd heard it before then, but I clearly remember him using it when he would surprise ask me out on a date as we were leaving work. This was his subtle way of beginning our dating relationship...surprise attack. Right, J? I did, I think, look at him blankly when he said with his dimpled smile (so very happy I'd agreed to dinner), "I blitzkrieged you, didn't I?" He gave a rough definition of what he meant. And since then he occasionally uses the word. And ironically I've encountered that word several times since then. It's amazing how knowing something makes you alert to its presence in the world.

What I don't remember is whether the context of the word use has ever been other than a military reference (other than the boyfriend's use), which is where the word came from. The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy gives this definition: A form of warfare used by German forces in World War II. In a blitzkrieg, troops in vehicles, such as tanks, made quick surprise strikes with support from airplanes. These tactics resulted in the swift German conquest of France in 1940 (see fall of France). Blitzkrieg is German for “lightning war.”

Do any of you have any thoughts or knowledge about the current use of blitzkrieg? And a special thank-you to J for expanding my word horizon.


Heather L. said...

Never heard of that word before! I had a similar experience with the word "suhsurrus" last year -- hope the spelling is right. Sort of a "gentle whispering" like the trees make in the wind. I loved the word once I found out more about its meaning, and then I saw it in several places!

stephanie said...

I've never heard you word before. I'll have to do a little more research into it and then watch out for its usage. Thanks for sharing!

jeremy said...

I do remember blitzkrieg from my brother watching tons of war movies and reading comics like Seargent Rock, and the Unknown Soldier. I was using the word in a way that I thought fitting as I liked to ask you out at the last minute...keep that element of surprise going, you know?

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