Word of the Day

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Aesopian

[ ee-soh-pee-uh n, ee-sop-ee- ]

adjective

conveying meaning by hint, euphemism, innuendo, or the like: In the candidate's Aesopian language, “soft on Communism” was to be interpreted as “Communist sympathizer.”

learn about the english language

What is the origin of Aesopian?

The English adjective Aesopian has multiple origins. The Latin adjective has the forms Aesōpīus and Aesōpēus, from Greek Aisṓpeios, derivative adjective of the proper name Aísōpos (Aesop). Aesop was a Greek slave who supposedly lived c620 b.c.–c560b.c. on the island of Samos and told animal fables that teach a lesson, e.g., “The Tortoise and the Hare.” Aesopian entered English in the late 17th century.

how is Aesopian used?

Gauss taught that past political thinkers wrote in a kind of code–an Aesopian language of double or multiple meanings–in order to avoid persecution in their own day and to communicate with contemporaries and successors who knew how to read between the lines, as it were.

Terence Ball, Rousseau's Ghost, 1998

By then, some Soviet writers had learned to use the Aesopian language, with its hints and euphemisms, to get their books into print.

Elena Gorokhova, "Beyond Banned: Books That Survived the Censors," NPR, March 30, 2011
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Monday, February 12, 2018

madeleine

[ mad-l-in, mad-l-eyn ]

noun

something that triggers memories or nostalgia: in allusion to a nostalgic passage in Proust's Remembrance of Things Past.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of madeleine?

The etymology of madeleine (in full, gâteau à la Madeleine), which is named after an 18th-century cook named Madeleine Paulnier or Paumier, is dubious. Madeleines (the small cakes) are popular today, but perhaps the word madeleine “something that evokes a memory or nostalgia” has more significance from the use of madeleine in this sense in Swann’s Way (1922), the first volume of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu), also known in English as Remembrance of Things Past.

how is madeleine used?

… thus temporarily bringing the sounds and smells of his dream world to him, a madeleine of the ever-postponed future.

Jane DeLynn, Real Estate, 1988

To reread this is like scenting a Madeleine of the drama and struggle that once was.

Mustapha Marrouchi, Edward Said at the Limits, 2004
Sunday, February 11, 2018

berceuse

[ French ber-sœz ]

noun

Music. a cradlesong; lullaby.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of berceuse?

Berceuse, not yet naturalized in English, still retains its French pronunciation or a semblance of it. Berceuse is an agent noun in French, meaning “girl or woman who rocks a cradle, lullaby,” the feminine of berceur “a cradle rocker.” In English, berceuse is restricted to “lullaby,” especially as a musical composition in 6/8 time, as, e.g., “Brahms’ Lullaby.” Berceuse entered English in the 19th century.

how is berceuse used?

The berceuse is so soothing, it ought to send your husband to sleep …

A. R. Goring-Thomas, Wayward Feet, 1912

I love soft songs that soothe me–something cradle-like–a Berceuse, you understand.

Fergus Hume, The Man with a Secret, 1890

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.