1) a prayer consisting of a series of invocations and supplications by the leader with alternate responses by the congregation
It is supposed to originate from the Middle English letanie, it in turn is from the Late Latin litania, which refers to the Late Greek litaneia, which stems from the word for entreaty: litanos, meaning supplicant. Unsurprisingly, very frequently in religious tradition, you will find that litanies are used to list the "supplicant's" many woes or ordeals that they have to suffer through in life. But litanies are not necessarily negative things! Litanies can be uplifting, upbeat, and cheerful as well. One of my favorite examples of a "literary litany" is copywriter Robert Pirosh's letter of introduction to Hollywood bigwig directors in the 1930s.2)
a : a resonant or repetitive chantb : a usually lengthy recitation or enumerationc : a sizable series or set of problems
Dear Sir:So next time you need to vent about all the bad stuff in your life, try giving folks a "Litany of Woes" instead of a list of complaints. So much more epic that way!
I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave "V" words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land's-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.
I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.
I have just returned and I still like words.
May I have a few with you?
385 Madison Avenue