Thursday, October 22, 2009

Genius of George Washington Vocabulary

Icon: A person who is held up as an example or role model.

Demigod: (Demi = half) A person who is so great that he has almost God-like abilities.

Iconoclast: (Clast = broken rock) Someone who tries to pull down or diminish heroes or sacred ideas.


(Click to embiggen)

Charisma: The ability to inspire devotion and dedication.

Apocryphal: Of questionable authenticity; a story that is most likely unreliable. The term derives from the root “crypt,” meaning secret (think cryptographer or encryption).

Cashiered: Fired (in a military sense).

Pyrrhic victory: A victory that is so costly that, if repeated, will lead to defeat. Named after Pyrhhus the Greek general whose victory over the Romans was so costly his army disintegrated.

Fabian strategy: A military plan where pitched battles are avoided. Space is traded for time and the logistical lifeline of the invader are threatened. The Fabian strategist hopes to wear down a superior enemy’s resolve. Named after the Roman general Fabius who was outmatched by Hannibal but was able to force Hannibal’s withdrawal from the Italian Peninsula by keeping his army in the field and not risking it in a pitched battle against Hannibal’s genius. Fabius was consciously emulated by (among others) George Washington, James Longstreet, Russia against Napoleon, Stalin in WW II, Algeria against the French, and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.

Informational Paralysis: The inability to choose a course of action that stems from a desire to acquire additional evidence. “A good decision implemented in a timely matter is better than a perfect decision implemented too late.” “The problem is when perfect, being the enemy of the good, freezes us into inaction.” “A good plan implemented in a timely fashion is superior to a perfect plan executed too late.”

Redoubt: A smaller fort supporting a larger fort; it is intended to make an attacker doubt his chances of success again and again. (re-doubting)

Redoubtable: Very brave. Brave enough to storm a redoubt. Worthy of awe or praise.

Cincinnatus: A person who is willing to sacrifice all for his country in time of danger but wants no reward or power when the danger has passed. Derived from the Roman general Cincinnatus who won victory and was offered the crown but only wanted to return to his farm. Washington was called America’s Cincinnatus.

Indispensable Man: Someone crucial to success.

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