Word of the Day

Friday, May 17, 2019

alameda

[ al-uh-mey-duh ]

noun

a public walk shaded with trees.

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What is the origin of alameda?

It is hard to imagine a lovelier-sounding word than alameda. It is not a word in general American usage, but a regionalism in the American Southwest, a common noun meaning “a tree-shaded public walk.” Alameda comes directly from Spanish alameda “poplar grove,” formed from the noun álamo “poplar” (a noun of unknown etymology) and the noun suffix –eda, which regularly derives from the Latin noun suffix –ētum, denoting a place where plants are grown, e.g., arborētum “a place where trees are grown.” The placename and proper noun Alameda, a city in California east of San Francisco across the San Francisco Bay, was so named not by Spaniards or Mexicans, but by American settlers in a popular vote in 1853. Alameda entered English in the 18th century.

how is alameda used?

The ascent to it is by an alameda or public walk, which was formerly beautifully planted, but the trees were cut down during the revolutionary contest.

Josiah Conder, The Modern Traveller: Colombia, 1825

At the foot of the hill is an alameda, or public walk, which, though not so fashionable as the more modern and splendid paseo of the Xenil, still boasts a varied and picturesque concourse.

Washington Irving, The Alhambra, 1832
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Thursday, May 16, 2019

whataboutism

[ hwuht-uh-bou-tiz-uhm, wuht‐, hwot‐, wot‐ ]

noun

a conversational tactic in which a person responds to an argument or attack by changing the subject to focus on someone else’s misconduct, implying that all criticism is invalid because no one is completely blameless: Excusing your mistakes with whataboutism is not the same as defending your record.

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What is the origin of whataboutism?

Whataboutism is a transparent formation of the phrase “What about…?” used to form objections in an argument, and the noun suffix –ism. Whataboutism entered English in the second half of the 20th century.

how is whataboutism used?

Whataboutism appears to broaden context, to offer a counterpoint, when really it’s diverting blame, muddying the waters and confusing … rational listeners.

Dan Zak, "Whataboutism: The Cold War tactic, thawed by Putin, is brandished by Donald Trump," Washington Post, August 18, 2017

The best response to whataboutism has historically been to say that while, yes, other countries have their faults, injustice should not be tolerated anywhere.

Olga Khazan, "The Soviet-Era Strategy That Explains What Russia Is Doing With Snowden," The Atlantic, August 2, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

consent

[ kuhn-sent ]

verb

to permit, approve, or agree.

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What is the origin of consent?

In English, the verb sense of consent is recorded considerably earlier than the noun. Consent ultimately derives from the Latin verb consentīre “to share or join in a sensation or feeling, be in unison or harmony.” Consentīre is a compound of the Latin prefix con-, a variant of com– “together, with.” The Latin verb sentīre has many meanings: “to perceive by any of the senses, feel, be aware of, recognize, discern, hold an opinion, think, cast a vote, give a verdict.” The many English derivatives of the Latin verb include assent, consent, resent, sense, sentence, sentient, and sentiment. The verb senses of consent entered English in the 13th century, the noun in the second half of the 14th.

how is consent used?

Before you even put your cookie on my computer, or in my mobile device, you have to make sure I consent to being followed ….

Rayna Stamboliyska, as quoted in "Europe's New Online Privacy Rules Could Protect U.S. Users Too," NPR; All Tech Considered, April 16, 2018

If she consents to assist the experiment, she consents of her own free will ….

Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone, 1868

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