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Opening Arguments

My word's bigger than your word

I do a feature for the Saturday editorial page called "Snob words," the noble purpose of which is to give people who want to show off the vocabulary to do it with. Last Saturday, I spotlighted prandial, "of or relating to a meal, especially dinner," and provided the helpful example, "A postprandial cigar is better than an antemeridian kick in the pants." Then I went one step too far and provided the bonus word "antemeridian: before noon." This prompted an e-mail from M.J. Guzek of Craigville, who pointed out that:

It is a common misconception that the abbreviation "a.m." stands for "ante meridian." However, "meridian" is not a Latin word. It's an English word derived from the Latin "meridianus," meaning "pertaining to the midday." In fact, "a.m." abbreviates "ante meridian" literally from the Latin "before the zenith."

Drat. Out-snobbed. M.J. helpfully ends by giving me permission "to quote the above, if you wish." Thanks so much. By the way, M.J., you do know, of course, that the true opposite of postprandial is antejentacular, "before breakfast."