Word of the Day

Word of the day

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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Sunday, December 06, 2020

verbum sap

[ vur-buhm -sap ]

phrase

a word to the wise is sufficient; no more need be said.

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What is the origin of verbum sap?

Verbum sap is short for Latin Verbum sapientī sat(is) est “a word to the wise is sufficient.” Verbum comes from the Proto-Indo-European root wer– (with variants) “to speak,” the same source as English word, German Wort, Old Prussian wirds “word,” and Lithuanian vardas “name.” Sapientī is the dative singular of sapiēns “rational, sane, understanding,” the present participle of sapere “to taste, taste of, have good taste; to be intelligent, know, understand.” Sapere is the source of the Romance verbs savoir (French), saber (Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan), and Italian sapere, all meaning “to know.” The participle sapiēns is also the specific epithet for the genus Homo “human being.” Sat or satis “enough, sufficient” is by origin an indeclinable noun, i.e., the noun has no inflections. Satis comes from the Proto-Indo-European root -, – “to satisfy, fill,” and its derivative noun sātis “satiety, fullness” (also the source of Old Irish sāith “satiety”). The variant – is the source of Gothic saths “full,” German satt, Old English sæd “grave, heavy, full,” originally “sated, full” (English sad), and Greek hádēn “enough” (in Greek, original initial s before a vowel becomes h). Est is related to Old English and English is, German and Gothic ist, Greek estí, Sanskrit ásti, Old Irish is, Old Lithuanian esti, Old Church Slavonic jestĭ, and Hittite eszi, all meaning “is,” from Proto-Indo-European esti. Verbum sapienti entered English in the second half of the 16th century, verbum sap in the first half of the 19th century.

how is verbum sap used?

Never yet, my dear girl, did I long to administer a productive pecuniary Squeeze to any human creature as I long to administer it to Mr. Novel Vanstone. I say no more. Verbum sap.

Wilkie Collins, No Name, 1862

P.S. I have mentioned to your mother that I am thinking of buying you a small car. Verbum sap.

Mary Roberts Rinehart, Bab: A Sub-Deb, 1917

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Saturday, December 05, 2020

tirrivee

[ tur-uh-vee ]

noun

Scot.

a tantrum.

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What is the origin of tirrivee?

Tirrivee “a tantrum, a display of bad temper” is another perplexing Scots word with no secure etymology. It may be a variant or corruption of the verb tailyevey “to move from side to side, rock” another Scots word of no known etymology. Sir Walter Scott used tirrivee in his Waverley novels, enough to ensure the word’s survival. Tirrivee entered English in the early 19th century.

how is tirrivee used?

Say that you forgive me, that you love me not a whit the less for my yesterday’s tirrivee

Jane Baillie Welsh to Thomas Carlyle, 1824, in Carlyle Till Marriage, 1923

What a tirrivee Dominie was in!

John Innes, Till A' the Seas Gang Dry, 1924

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