Word of the Day

Monday, May 21, 2018

adultescent

[ ad-uhl-tes-uhnt, uh-duhl- ]

noun

a young adult or middle-aged person who has interests, traits, etc., that are usually associated with teenagers.

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What is the origin of adultescent?

The informal noun kidult, a combination of kid and adult, which dates from about 1960, has mostly been replaced by the equally informal noun adultescent (from adult and adolescent), which first appears in the mid-1990s.

how is adultescent used?

It almost seems as if we’re actively trying to raise a nation of “adultescents.”

Elizabeth Kolbert, "Spoiled Rotten," The New Yorker, July 2, 2012

Adultescent came of age in 2004, but only as a word. The adult it describes is too busy playing Halo 2 on his Xbox or watching SpongeBob at his parents’ house to think about growing up.

John Tierney, "Adultescent," New York Times, December 26, 2004
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Sunday, May 20, 2018

sub rosa

[ suhb roh-zuh ]

adverb

confidentially; secretly; privately.

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What is the origin of sub rosa?

The English adverbial phrase sub rosa comes directly from the Latin phrase sub rosā “under the rose,” from the use of a rose suspended from the ceiling of the council chamber during meetings to symbolize the sworn confidence of the participants. This use of the rose is based on the Greek myth that Aphrodite (Latin Venus) gave a rose to her son Eros (Latin Cupid); Eros then gave the rose to Harpocrates, the god of silence and secrets, to ensure that Aphrodite’s dalliances remained hidden. Sub rosa entered English in the 17th century.

how is sub rosa used?

He was too impatient. He should’ve worked sub rosa, built a wider network of supporters; and he should not have struck openly.

Michael Flynn, In the Lion's Mouth, 2011

Besides the pleasure of a newly acquired possession, there is an agreeable feeling of having bought it sub rosa.

Daniele Varè, Maker of Heavenly Trousers, 1935
Saturday, May 19, 2018

omnifarious

[ om-nuh-fair-ee-uhs ]

adjective

of all forms, varieties, or kinds.

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What is the origin of omnifarious?

English omnifarious comes from the Late Latin adjective omnifarius “of all sorts.” The combining form omni- in omnifarious is completely naturalized in English and needs no explanation. The element -farious comes from the Latin combining form -fārius, -farius, which is used to form multiplicative adjectives (e.g., twofold, threefold, simplex, duplex) and is a back formation from the Late Latin adjective bifārius “twofold, double,” in turn derived from the Latin adverb bifāriam “in two parts or places.” Omnifarious entered English in the 17th century.

how is omnifarious used?

… these essays in Mr. Trilling’s new book all aim directly or indirectly at the central suppositions of our omnifarious 20th-century culture.

Robie Macauley, "From the Particular to the Universal," New York Times, November 14, 1965

The point here is all these other “platforms” offer but a fraction of the omnifarious ~500 product and services that Google subsidizes to offer for free in “competition” with mostly fee-based proprietary platform products and services.

Scott Cleland, "Why Google's Not a 'Platform,'" Forbes, October 19, 2011
Friday, May 18, 2018

spagyric

[ spuh-jeer-ik ]

adjective

pertaining to or resembling alchemy; alchemic.

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What is the origin of spagyric?

The rare adjective spagyric comes from New Latin spagiricus “alchemical; alchemy; an alchemist” and was first used and probably coined by the Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus (c1493–1541). There is no trustworthy etymology for the word. Spagyric entered English in the late 16th century.

how is spagyric used?

He saw the true gold into which the beggarly matter of existence may be transmuted by spagyric art; a succession of delicious moments, all the rare flavours of life concentrated, purged of their lees, and preserved in a beautiful vessel.

Arthur Machen, The Hill of Dreams, 1907

I fear that many a practitioner of the spagyric art has perished handling it without due respect.

Jacqueline Carey, Miranda and Caliban, 2017
Thursday, May 17, 2018

paraph

[ par-uhf, puh-raf ]

noun

a flourish made after a signature, as in a document, originally as a precaution against forgery.

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What is the origin of paraph?

A paraph is the flamboyant flourish at the end of a signature to prevent forgery. The most famous and perhaps only paraph familiar to modern Americans is the one at the end of John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence. Paraph comes from Middle French paraphe or paraffe “abbreviated signature,” which is either a shortening of Late Latin paragraphus “a short horizontal line below the beginning of a line and marking a break in the sense,” or Medieval Latin paraphus “a flourish at the end of a signature.” Paraph entered English in the late 14th century.

how is paraph used?

Between you and me pivotal affinities occlude such petty tics as my constant distinctive signature with its unforgeable paraph

Joseph McElroy, Ancient History: A Paraphrase, 1971
[Frédéric] Chopin signed in a compact and bold hand. His signature exhibits choppy letter construction and is typically finished off with a bold paraph.

Ron Keurajian, Collecting Historical Autographs, 2017
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

bezonian

[ bih-zoh-nee-uhn ]

noun

Archaic. an indigent rascal; scoundrel.

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What is the origin of bezonian?

The root of the archaic English noun bezonian is the Italian noun bisogno “need, lack,” also in the late 16th century, “raw, needy recruit (newly landed in Italy from Spain).” In English bezonian has always had this meaning, but also, by an easy extension, ”poor beggar, indigent rascal.” Bezonian entered English in the late 16th century.

how is bezonian used?

Great men oft die by vile bezonians

William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, 1623

To Juan, who was nearest him, address’d / His thanks, and hopes to take the city soon / Not reckoning him to be a “base Bezonian” / (As Pistol calls it) but a young Livonian.

Lord Byron, Don Juan, 1819–24
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

tempus fugit

[ tem-poos foo-git ]

Latin. time flies.

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What is the origin of tempus fugit?

One cannot get more classical than tempus fugit “time flies,” a phrase that occurs in the Georgics, a poem about farming and country life published around 29 b.c. by the Roman poet Vergil (70-19 b.c.). Tempus fugit entered English in the late 18th century.

how is tempus fugit used?

Well, tempus fugit; let us be going. We have just an hour to reach our dining-hall.

Ruth McEnery Stuart, "Two Gentlemen of Leisure," Moriah's Mourning, 1898

“Thank you! Thank you!” you call to the woman, “but tempus fugit and to be honest, it’s fugiting rather quickly for me at the moment …”

Herbie Brennan, RomanQuest, 2011

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