Word of the Day

Saturday, March 02, 2019

animus

[ an-uh-muhs ]

noun

strong dislike or enmity; hostile attitude; animosity.

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What is the origin of animus?

In Latin the noun animus has many meanings: “the mind (as opposed to the body), the mind (or soul) that with the body constitutes a person, the mind as the seat of consciousness, the immortal part of a person (the soul)….” Animus comes from the same Proto-Indo-European source (anә– “to breathe”) as Greek ánemos “the wind.” The modern sense “strong dislike, enmity” is a development within English, appearing only at the end of the 18th century.

how is animus used?

This time, it’s not a border wall or a health care proposal driving the animus, but an online ad for a men’s razor, because, of course.

Emily Dreyfuss, "Gillette's Ad Proves the Definition of a Good Man Has Changed," Wired, January 16, 2019

Second, people should not let their animus toward him—and his animus toward the truth—trick them into trafficking in conspiracy theories.

David Leonhardt, "How to Cut Child Poverty," New York Times, October 27, 2017
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Friday, March 01, 2019

tergiversate

[ tur-ji-ver-seyt ]

verb

to change repeatedly one's attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.

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What is the origin of tergiversate?

Tergiversate comes from the Latin verb tergiversārī “to keep turning one’s back on a task, show reluctance.” The Latin noun tergum means “back (of a human or animal),” and the verb versārī “to keep moving about” is a derivative of vertere “to turn.” Tergiversate entered English in the 17th century.

how is tergiversate used?

The nominees will equivocate and tergiversate. They will never engage.

Stephen L. Carter, "What We Think About Supreme Court Hearings Is Wrong," Bloomberg, July 17, 2018

I can sense a growing concentricity in my manner of thinking, a desire to circle back on my own thoughts, to tergiversate, to animadvert, to extemporise.

Will Self, "Inclusion," Grey Area, 1994
Thursday, February 28, 2019

petrichor

[ pe-tri-kawr, ‐trahy- ]

noun

a distinctive scent, usually described as earthy, pleasant, or sweet, produced by rainfall on very dry ground.

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What is the origin of petrichor?

Petrichor is an uncommon word used in mineral chemistry or geochemistry to describe the pleasant scent of rain falling on very dry ground. Petrichor is a compound of the Greek nouns pétrā “rock, stone” (as in petroleum “rock oil”) and īchṓr, the juice or liquid—not blood!—that flows in the veins of the Olympian gods. About 60 percent of ancient Greek words have no satisfactory etymology; īchṓr is one of them. Petrichor was coined by two Australian chemists, Isabel “Joy” Bear and Richard Grenfell Thomas, in 1964.

how is petrichor used?

I surfaced from the tunnel in a shack, where the air was close and smelled of petrichor.

Samantha Shannon, The Mime Order, 2015

So whether rainfall reminds you of summer soccer games, puddle-splashing with siblings or a terrifying storm, thank (or blame) the planets [sic], microbes and minerals that give petrichor such a distinctive odor.

Marissa Fessenden, "High-Speed Video Shows When The Smell of Rain Begins," Smithsonian.com, January 20, 2015

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