Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, July 01, 2022

galvanize

[ gal-vuh-nahyz ] [ ˈgæl vəˌnaɪz ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used with object)

to startle into sudden activity; stimulate.

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What is the origin of galvanize?

Galvanize “to startle into sudden activity” is adapted from French galvaniser, of the same meaning. The change from French s to English z reflects the spelling standards of modern English; while UK English has largely preserved the original s and uses galvanise, US English typically prefers the use of -ize in verbs—though there are exceptions such as advertise and advise. French galvaniser is the namesake of Luigi Galvani, an Italian physiologist who conducted experiments with electricity in the 18th century. Though there is no consensus on the source of the surname Galvani, one hypothesis is that it shares an origin with Gawain, the name of a knight of the Round Table, which likely comes from the Welsh word gwalch “hawk.” Galvanize was first recorded in English circa 1800.

how is galvanize used?

The presence of the enemy seemed to galvanize the growers, underscoring the subtext of Elliot’s message: that their industry was under attack, and they needed D&W’s crisis-management services.

Ruth Ozeki, All Over Creation, 2003

Police and city leaders in several Jersey Shore towns are ready to shut down any raucous pop-up parties. In recent weeks, content creators on TikTok or other social media platforms have galvanized thousands of people to head to the Jersey Shore.

Astrid Martínez, “Point Pleasant Beach taking steps to prevent future pop-up parties,” CBS News, June 18, 2022
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Word of the day

Thursday, June 30, 2022

autonomy

[ aw-ton-uh-mee ] [ ɔˈtɒn ə mi ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

noun

independence or freedom, as of the will or one's actions.

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What is the origin of autonomy?

Autonomy “freedom of the will” comes from Ancient Greek autonomía “independence,” which is based on the adjective autónomos “with laws of one’s own.” Autónomos, in turn, is a compound of the elements autós “self” and nómos “law, custom, management, regulation.” Autós should look all too familiar, as its stems aut- and auto- appear in English terms such as authentic (literally “done by oneself”), automatic (“thinking for oneself”), and autopsy (“seeing for oneself”). Meanwhile, nómos is also the ultimate source of the words astronomy (“star regulation”), Deuteronomy (“second law”), and economy (“household management”). Autonomy was first recorded in English circa 1620.

how is autonomy used?

[Susan] Prendergast, who’s an assistant professor in the University of Victoria’s school of nursing, said Alberta lags behind other provinces such as B.C., Ontario and Nova Scotia, where NPs [nurse practitioners] have more autonomy.

Jennifer Lee, “Alberta's nurse practitioners seek autonomy as family doctor shortage worsens,” CBC, June 23, 2022

This freedom has sometimes been a source of friction in political quarters. “This extensive autonomy is desirable for designing and carrying out research, but should not necessarily extend to aspects of personnel,” says Holger Becker, a physicist who is a lawmaker in the German parliament and is on the parliament’s research committee.

Alison Abbott, “Max Planck’s cherished autonomy questioned following criticism of misconduct investigations,” Nature, June 8, 2022
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Word of the day

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

draconian

[ drey-koh-nee-uhn, druh- ] [ dreɪˈkoʊ ni ən, drə- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

adjective

rigorous; unusually severe or cruel.

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What is the origin of draconian?

Draconian “unusually severe or cruel” is based on Latin Dracō (stem Dracōn-), plus the adjectival suffix -ian. In ancient Athens, a city-state that is now the capital of Greece, Draco (known to his fellow Athenians as Drákōn) was a statesman who was famous—or infamous—for the unusually harsh laws he enacted. The Latin common noun dracō means “dragon, serpent” and appears in the motto of the school Hogwarts, from the Harry Potter series: Dracō dormiēns nunquam tītillandus, meaning “A sleeping dragon must never be tickled.” Latin dracō, originally an adaptation of Ancient Greek drákōn, is the source of English dragon, dragoon, and drake. Draconian was first recorded in English in the 1810s.

how is draconian used?

Wyatt was both a victim and a collaborator in a new kind of political system: the totalitarian state. The 16th century may have been the golden age of English literature, but it also fostered an increasingly draconian monarchy.

Ed Simon, “Among Tyrants,” Poetry Foundation, November 5, 2018

The U.S. Federal Reserve risks weak economic growth throughout this year due to its backward-looking, “draconian” rate hikes, warned Wall Street’s best-known tech sector bull [Cathie Wood].

Christiaan Hetzner, “Cathie Wood warns the Fed is ignoring dangerous signals as it plows ahead with draconian rate hikes,” Fortune, June 20, 2022
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