Word of the Day

Monday, December 28, 2020

amity

[ am-i-tee ]

noun

friendship; peaceful harmony.

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What is the origin of amity?

Amity “friendship; peaceful harmony; peaceful harmony between states” comes via Middle English amite, amitie, amiste from Old French amistié, amisté, amistet “friendship, affection,” from the unrecorded Vulgar Latin noun amīcitāt-, the inflectional stem of amīcitās, equivalent to Latin amīcitia “friendship.” (The same Vulgar Latin noun becomes amistad in Spanish, which may be familiar to Americans from the Steven Spielberg movie Amistad, 1997.) Amīcitia is a derivative of the noun amīcus “friend, lover,” which in its turn is a derivative of the verb amāre “to love, be in love, fall in love with,” which has no further etymology. Amity entered English in the first half of the 15th century.

how is amity used?

Felix held out his hand as a token of amity, which the other took.

Richard Jefferies, After London, 1885

She did not care for. Mrs. Markey … but John and Joe Markey were congenial and went in together on the commuting train every morning, so the two women kept up an elaborate pretence of warm amity.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Baby Party," Hearst's International Cosmopolitan, February 1925

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Sunday, December 27, 2020

fainéant

[ fey-nee-uhnt; French fe-ney-ahn ]

adjective

idle; indolent.

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What is the origin of fainéant?

The English adjective and noun fainéant “indolent, idle; an idler, a do-nothing” is plainly French. The earlier French spelling fait-nient, literally meaning “he does nothing,” is a folk etymology of Old French faignant “idler, sluggard,” the present participle of faindre, feindre “to shirk,” source of English faint and feign. Fainéant entered English in the first half of the 17th century.

how is fainéant used?

He became a very fainéant Pope, occupying his leisure hours, not discreditably, with literature and learned men, but making of those hours a far larger portion of his life than was consistent with the duty of a supreme head of the Church.

Thomas Adolphus Trollope, The Papal Enclaves, As They Were and As They Are, 1876

The evidence which he presents in such detail continues to produce, if anything, precisely that impression of the faineant President which he has been anxious to dispel.

George Dangerfield, "One in the shade of Jefferson, one in the shade of Adams," New York Times, July 4, 1971

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Saturday, December 26, 2020

fistic

[ fis-tik ]

adjective

of boxing; pugilistic.

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What is the origin of fistic?

Fistic “pertaining to the fists or boxing” is a transparent compound of the English noun fist and the adjective suffix –ic. Fist comes from Old English fȳst and is closely related to Dutch vuist and German Faust. The thoroughly naturalized suffix –ic derives from Latin –icus and Greek –ikos and was originally applied to Latin or Greek nouns (such as metallic, music, poetic, public). Fistic is a facetious synonym of pugilistic, which is a derivative of Latin pugil “fist fighter, boxer.” Pugil is akin to pugna “fist” and its derived verb pugnāre “to fight,” ultimate source of English pugnacious. All of the Latin words are related to the Greek adverb pýx “with the fist,” and the noun pygmḗ “fist, fistfight, boxing,” also a measure of length from the elbow to the knuckles (of the fist). Fistic entered English in the early 19th century.

how is fistic used?

Yes, boxing and the other fistic and grappling arts are still with us, driven by the popularity of mixed martial arts and Ultimate Mixed Fighting bouts.

William Porter, "Metro Denver gyms offer a workout for everyone," Denver Post, July 7, 2014

To continue in fistic phraseology, he had a genius for coming up to the scratch, wherever and whatever it was, and proving himself an ugly customer. … He was certain to knock the wind out of common sense …

Charles Dickens, Hard Times, 1854

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