Word of the Day

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

abscond

[ ab-skond ]

verb (used without object)

to depart in a sudden and secret manner, especially to avoid capture and legal prosecution.

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What is the origin of abscond?

Abscond ultimately comes from Latin abscondere, “to hide away, stow away, store away,” a double compound verb formed from the preposition and prefix abs, abs-, a variant of ab, ab– “away, away from,” and the compound verb condere “to put in or into, store away, put away” (formed from the familiar prefix con-, here used with intensive force “thoroughly, completely,” and –dere “to put,” a verb used only in compounds). The usual modern meaning of abscond “to depart in a sudden and secret manner, so as to avoid capture and prosecution,” does not occur in Latin but developed in English during the 17th century. It is a reflexive or passive use of the verb: “to hide oneself, hide oneself away (from), flee, flee from prosecution.” Abscond entered English in the second half of the 16th century in the sense “to conceal, obscure.”

how is abscond used?

Mr. Angiolillo’s descendants say that their stepbrother absconded with the diamond after his mother died in 2009, but the stepbrother, Marco Milella, has insisted that he inherited the stone from his mother and that it was his to sell, according to court records.

Julia Jacobs, "Appeals Court Sends the Case of a Pink $40 Million Diamond to Trial," New York Times, July 10, 2020

In a complaint filed in the Central District of California, the three principals were charged not only with running the site but also with planning an “exit scam,” in which they intended to abscond with some eleven million dollars being held in users’ accounts.

Ed Caesar, "The Cold War Bunker That Became Home to a Dark-Web Empire," The New Yorker, July 27, 2020

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Tuesday, December 08, 2020

infodemic

[ in-foh-dem-ik ]

noun

a massive amount of widely and rapidly circulating information about a particular crisis or controversial issue, consisting of a confusing combination of fact, falsehood, rumor, and opinion.

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What is the origin of infodemic?

Infodemic, a transparent blend of info(rmation) and (epi)demic, was coined in 2003 by David J. Rothkopf, an American political scientist and journalist. Prof. Rothkopf was referring specifically to the profusion of information, misinformation, rumor, and outright falsehoods during the SARS epidemic of 2003.

how is infodemic used?

Yet if information is the disease, knowledge is also a cure. We should react to infodemics just as we do to diseases.

David J. Rothkopf, "When the Buzz Bites Back," Washington Post, May 11, 2003

Her aim was to assess and stop a global spread—not of the dangerous virus but of hazardous false information. She wanted to halt what her colleagues at the health agency are calling an “infodemic.”

Matt Richtel, "W.H.O. Fights a Pandemic Besides Coronavirus: An ‘Infodemic,’" New York Times, February 6, 2020

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Monday, December 07, 2020

ambit

[ am-bit ]

noun

a sphere of operation or influence; range; scope.

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What is the origin of ambit?

Ambit comes straight from the Latin noun ambitus, a noun of many meanings associated with or derived from circular motion, e.g., “circuit, revolution; a ring, periphery, or circuit; a strip of ground around a building“ but not the English sense “sphere of operation or influence; range; scope,” a sense that developed in English in the mid-17th century. In Cicero’s speeches, ambitus was the common crime of bribery, graft, or corruption in electioneering committed by a candidate or his associates. Ambitus is a derivative of the verb ambīre “to visit in rotation, solicit or canvass for votes,” a compound of the prefix ambi– “both, on both sides, around” and the verb īre “to go.” Ambit entered English in one of its original Latin senses “strip of ground around a house or other building” in the second half of the 15th century.

how is ambit used?

The EPA’s ambit is too narrow, and climate change too sprawling, for Inslee’s time and talents.

Robinson Meyer, "For Voters, Does Climate ... Actually Even Matter?" The Atlantic, August 22, 2019

The Oversight and Reform Committee has a broad ambit that allows it to scrutinize seemingly everything done by the executive branch.

Jon Healey, "Care about balance of power? Root for Trump's legal team in financial records fight," Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2019

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