• Word of the day
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    Thursday, March 01, 2018

    aberration

    noun [ab-uh-rey-shuh n]
    the act of departing from the right, normal, or usual course.
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    What is the origin of aberration?

    The English noun aberration has wandered far from its Latin original. Cicero (106-43 b.c.) is the first (and only) Latin author to use the noun aberrātiō “distraction, diversion, relief (from pain or sorrow).” Aberrātiō is a derivative of the verb aberrāre “to divert, forget for a time; to wander off, go astray, deviate.” Aberration entered English in the 16th century.

    How is aberration used?

    They don't want to believe that the United States is opposed to action on global warming. They’d rather see the Trump administration as an aberration. Lisa Friedman and Brad Plumer, "Introducing Our Newsletter, Climate Fwd:" New York Times, November 15, 2017

    I had never fought or thrown a punch at anyone. It was an aberration to my father, and he had instilled in me this idea of physical violence as an aberration. David Adams Richards, Mercy Among the Children, 2000

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, February 28, 2018

    ufology

    noun [yoo-fol-uh-jee]
    the study of unidentified flying objects.
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    What is the origin of ufology?

    Ufology was first recorded in 1955-60.

    How is ufology used?

    The First International Congress on the U.F.O. Phenomenon, which ended here yesterday, brought the two groups uncomfortably together, and, after a week of heated debate, a single theory of ufology seemed further away tha[n] ever. Alan Riding, "Scientists and Laymen in Conflict At World Conference on U.F.O.'s," New York Times, April 25, 1977

    The history of ufology shows the complex psychology of fringe beliefs. Julie Beck, "What UFOs Mean for Why People Don't Trust Science," The Atlantic, February 18, 2016

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, February 27, 2018

    goldilocks

    adjective [gohl-dee-loks]
    (usually initial capital letter) not being extreme or not varying drastically between extremes, especially between hot and cold: a Goldilocks economy that is neither overheated nor too cold to cause arecession; a goldilocks planet such as Earth.
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    What is the origin of goldilocks?

    Little new or unknown can be said about Goldilocks, but in the late 1980s astronomers began using the phrases Goldilocks planet or Goldilocks zone for planets in our solar system exoplanets that are not too hot, not too cold for supporting life (as we know it on earth).

    How is goldilocks used?

    For future generations to realize the search for distant “Goldilocks planets,” this generation must work harder to protect our own. Alan S. Fintz, "Letter to the Editor: The Good Earth," New York Times, February 1, 2011

    Short-story collections prove to be a solution to folks who are “too busy to read” or are trying to find a way to break up a monotonous commute becoming the “just right” in a Goldilocks situation. Nicole Y. Chung, "9 short-story collections we can't wait to read this fall," Washington Post, September 18, 2017

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, February 26, 2018

    hyetal

    adjective [hahy-i-tl]
    of or relating to rain or rainfall.
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    What is the origin of hyetal?

    The English adjective hyetal is very uncommon, used only in meteorology. The Greek noun hyetόs means “rain”; the noun hyetía means “rainy weather”; both nouns derive from the verb hýein “to rain.” In English and other languages (German, for example), verbs of weather and natural phenomena are impersonal (e.g., it is raining, es regnet; it is snowing, es schneit). In Greek, however, such verbs are personal, Zeus or another god being understood as the subject if not explicitly named; thus hýei means to a Greek not “it is raining,” but “Zeus is raining,” and neíphei “Zeus is snowing.” Hyetal entered English in the 19th century.

    How is hyetal used?

    What grand cause has operated to disturb the ordinary rate of hyetal precipitation ... is a question to be studied by climatologists. , "The Drought and Smoky Days in Central New-York," New York Times, July 23, 1864

    Hyetal regions, mean annual cloudiness, co-tidal lines, cyclonic rotations, and progressive low pressure systems are not charming in themselves. Michael Innes, There Came Both Mist and Snow, 1940

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, February 25, 2018

    mores

    plural noun [mawr-eyz, -eez, mohr-]
    Sociology. folkways of central importance accepted without question and embodying the fundamental moral views of a group.
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    What is the origin of mores?

    The Latin noun mōrēs is the plural of mōs “custom, habit, usage, wont.” The Latin noun, whether singular or plural, has a wider range of usage than English mores has. Mōs may be good, bad, or indifferent: in Cicero’s usage the phrase mōs mājōrum “custom of our ancestors” is roughly equivalent to “constitution”; mōs sinister means “perverted custom," literally “left-handed”; and Horace used to walk along the Via Sacra as was his habit (mōs). Mores entered English in the late 19th century.

    How is mores used?

    ... as Lincoln now feared, with the passing of this noble generation, “if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the Government is the natural consequence.” To fortify against this, Lincoln essentially proposed that the national mores of America—taught in every classroom, preached in every church, proclaimed in every legislative hall—must revolve around “reverence” to the laws ... David Bahr, "Abraham Lincoln's Political Menagerie," Forbes, June 29, 2017

    ... the artist has always considered himself beyond the mores of the community in which he lived. Philip Roth, The Ghost Writer, 1979

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, February 24, 2018

    tutti

    adjective [too-tee]
    Music. all; all the voices or instruments together.
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    What is the origin of tutti?

    The Italian word tutti means “all,” i.e., all the instruments or voices of an orchestra together. Tutti is the masculine plural of tutto “all,” from Vulgar Latin tottus (unattested), from Latin tōtus. Tutti entered English in the 18th century.

    How is tutti used?

    He used to say that music could be either about almost nothing, one tiny strand of sound plucked like a silver hair from the head of the Muse, or about everything there was, all of it, tutti tutti, life, marriage, otherworlds, earthquakes, uncertainties, warnings, rebukes, journeys, dreams, love, the whole ball of wax, the full nine yards, the whole catastrophe. Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, 1999

    You will hear the very obvious difference in volume between the tutti notes and the immediately following music, which is still forte but is played by fewer instruments. Robert Nelson, Carl J. Christensen, Foundations of Music, 2006

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, February 23, 2018

    Rasputin

    noun [ra-spyoo-tin, -tn]
    any person who exercises great but insidious influence.
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    What is the origin of Rasputin?

    Grigori Efimovich Rasputin (c1871-1916) was a Russian peasant and self-proclaimed mystic and holy man (he had no official position in the Russian Orthodox Church). By 1904 Rasputin was popular among the high society of St. Petersburg, and in 1906 he became the healer of Alexei Nikolaevich Romanov, heir to the Russian throne and the hemophiliac son of Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and a carrier of hemophilia). In December 1916 Rasputin was murdered by Russian noblemen because of his influence over Czar Nicholas and the czarina.

    How is Rasputin used?

    ... the dynamics of the situation do not permit him to be a Rasputin, whispering in Nixon's ear. David Nevin, "Autocrat in the Action Arena," Life, September 5, 1969

    Others have described Isaacs as "a Rasputin or Svengali-like character in Kerner's life who exploited his undue influence over the governor and led him astray." Cynthia Grant Bowman, Dawn Clark Netsch: A Political Life, 2010

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