Word of the Day

Word of the day

Thursday, September 23, 2021

trident

[ trahyd-nt ]

noun

a three-pronged instrument or weapon.

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What is the origin of trident?

Trident “a three-pronged instrument or weapon” derives from the Latin adjective tridēns “having/with three teeth” and is often associated with Neptune, known to the Greeks as Poseidon, the god of the sea and earthquakes. A similar symbol is the bident, a spear with two prongs, which was associated with Pluto, known to the Greeks as Hades, the god of the underworld. Trident’s two Latin sources, trēs and dēns (stem dent-), are cognates of their respective English translations three and tooth. A common trend in the Indo-European language family is for t in Latin to correspond to th in native English words, and this pattern is also visible when comparing Latin frāter, māter, and pater to English brother, mother, and father. Trident was first recorded in English in the late 1500s.

how is trident used?

As king, Aquaman wields the trident of Poseidon, granted to the Atlanteans by the sea god. More than simply an emblem of power, the trident can manipulate water as well as create storms and floods. It shoots bolts of energy, extends the wielder’s powers of telepathy with sea animals, and can even transform into a sword.

Christopher Wood, Heroes Masked and Mythic: Echoes of Ancient Archetypes in Comic Book Characters, 2020 

So that’s what has kept The Times chaste all these years: Mombudsmen! We like the idea of Sam Sifton sitting at his desk with his mother looking stern in angel robes on one shoulder and the rest of us dressed in red prodding him with a trident on the other.

Eric Randall, "What Keeps The New York Times Curse-Free? Editors' Moms," The Atlantic, June 14, 2012

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Word of the day

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

muliebrity

[ myoo-lee-eb-ri-tee ]

noun

womanly nature or qualities.

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What is the origin of muliebrity?

Muliebrity “womanly nature or qualities” derives from Late Latin muliēbritās “womanhood,” from mulier “woman.” Mulier is of uncertain origin, though the most common theory connects the noun to the comparative adjective mollior “softer,” from mollis “soft, calm, gentle,” the source of the English verb mollify “to soften in feeling or temper.” Mulier was one of four primary Latin words that evolved into the terms for “woman,” “lady,” or “wife” in modern Romance languages; while mulier became Portuguese mulher and Spanish mujer, Latin fēmina “woman” became French femme and Spanish hembra, Latin domina “lady, mistress (of a household)” became French dame and Spanish doña, and Latin senior “older” became Portuguese senhora and Spanish señora. Muliebrity was first recorded in English in the late 1500s.

how is muliebrity used?

She is so much a woman that I forget there are tomorrows. She is a poem, an epic of muliebrity, in those satin slippers and light gowns, and rustling dresses, and with jewels in her ears ….. And when she wears them, I can’t think at all.

Audrey Borenstein, “The Natural History of a Friendship,” Evanescence, 2010

Unlike, say, Harry Styles or Billy Porter, both of whom have been known to flaunt gender ambivalence in their style choices, Bryan offers something more… suburban: machismo up top and muliebrity from the waist down.

Evan Ross Katz, "Can You Walk a Mile in Mark Bryan’s Louboutins?" Interview, March 2, 2021

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Word of the day

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

serotinal

[ si-rot-n-l, ser-uh-tahyn-l ]

adjective

pertaining to or occurring in late summer.

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What is the origin of serotinal?

Serotinal “pertaining to or occurring in late summer” describes the midpoint that neither estival “pertaining or appropriate to summer” nor autumnal “belonging to or suggestive of autumn” can completely cover. The term derives from the Latin adverb sērō “late,” from the adjective sērus “late, slow, tardy.” Sērō and the feminine form of sērus, sēra, later became the sources of the word for “evening” in many Romance languages, such as French soir, Italian sera, and Portuguese serão. Serotinal was first recorded in English in the late 1890s.

how is serotinal used?

Here in North America, the serotinal season is that marvelous time, in early September, when the monarch butterflies start to migrate, the lakes are still warm enough for swimming, and the resorts are empty. As Helen Hunt Jackson writes in her poem “September,” “By all these lovely tokens / September days are here, / With summer’s best of weather / And autumn’s best of cheer.”

Christopher Dewdney, 18 Miles: The Epic Drama of Our Atmosphere and Its Weather, 2018

Released this past summer, Beyond Eyes is an utterly gorgeous game that captures the very earliest stages of fall in a way few games even attempt, blending serotinal greens with the slow incursion of rusty reds. It’s still a rather summery-looking game, but depending on where you live in the world it may be a pretty darn accurate representation of your own experiences with fall.

Janine Hawkins, "10 Autumn Games For Your Virtual Leaf Peeping," Paste, October 5, 2015

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