Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, March 07, 2021

sweven

[ swev-uhn ]

noun

a vision; dream.

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What is the origin of sweven?

Sweven means “a vision; a dream.” It comes from Middle English sweven (with nearly 20 variant spellings) “a dream in sleep, a dream-vision or supernatural vision appearing while one is awake,” all of which occurred in Old English swefen, swefn (in Old English especially as regards revelatory or premonitory dreams in the Bible). Sweven is related to Old Norse svefn, Sanskrit svápna-, Old Church Slavonic sŭnŭ, Greek hýpnos, Latin somnus, Old Irish suan, Welsh hun, all meaning “sleep and/or dream.” All of the “daughter” forms derive from the Proto-Indo-European root swep-, swop-, sup– “to sleep.”

how is sweven used?

She wakened Earl Harold out of his sweven, to don his harness on …

Charles Kingsley, "The Weird Lady," Poems, 1889

The King with the Hundred Knights mette a wonder dream two nights afore the battle …. All that heard of the sweven said it was a token of great battle.

Thomas Malory, Le Morte D'Arthur, Vol. 1, edited by Janet Cowen, 1970, first published, 1485

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Word of the day

Saturday, March 06, 2021

proceleusmatic

[ pros-uh-loos-mat-ik, proh-suh- ]

adjective

inciting, animating, or inspiring.

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What is the origin of proceleusmatic?

Unless you like studying ancient Greek metrics, you are not likely ever to see proceleusmatic. The term entered English in the early 18th century as a noun referring to a metrical foot consisting of four short syllables (and also more reasonably called a tetrabrach, literally “four shorts”). Proceleusmatic comes via Latin proceleu(s)maticus from Greek prokeleusmatikós (also prokeleumatikós) the name of the foot, a derivative of the verb (pro)keleúein “to give orders.” One of the derivatives of keleúein, the agent noun keleustḗs, means “coxswain, one who beats time for the rowers,” referring specifically to the very quick rhythm to incite rowers of triremes (light, fast warships) charging into battle to ram enemy ships. Four shorts constantly beating would do the trick.

how is proceleusmatic used?

The strokes of the sickle were timed by the modulation of the harvest-song, in which all their voices were united. … The ancient proceleusmatic song, by which the rowers of galleys were animated, may be supposed to have been of this kind.

Samuel Johnson, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, 1775

Boss had replied that Clinton’s tenure as governor of his state had been “proceleusmatic,” whatever that meant, but he didn’t have any presidential aspirations himself…

Donald Harington, Thirteen Albatrosses, 2002

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Word of the day

Friday, March 05, 2021

grubstake

[ gruhb-steyk ]

noun

money or other assistance furnished at a time of need or of starting an enterprise.

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What is the origin of grubstake?

Grubstake “money or other assistance furnished at a time of need or of starting an enterprise,” was originally American mining slang that first appeared in the Far West of the U.S. (Montana) in 1863. It originally referred to provisions or gear furnished to a prospector on condition of participating in the profits of any discoveries. The grub in grubstake is British and American slang for food; stake is “something wagered in a game, or race or a monetary or commercial interest or investment in an enterprise in hope of gain.”

how is grubstake used?

In short order, the team turned the partners’ $10 million grubstake into $100 million.

William D. Cohan, "Man vs. Machine on Wall Street: How Computers Beat the Market," The Atlantic, March 29, 2011

He told Westerberg he planned on staying until April 15, just long enough to put together a grubstake. He needed a pile of new gear, he explained, because he was going to Alaska.

Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild, 1996

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