Word of the Day

Word of the day

Saturday, July 06, 2019

ansa

[ an-suh ]

noun

either of the apparent extremities of the rings of Saturn or of other planets, especially when viewed from a distance under certain conditions, when they look like two handles.

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What is the origin of ansa?

English ansa comes via French anse “handle” from Latin ānsa “handle (of a cup, a door), a loop, an opening, an opportunity.” As a term in art history or archaeology, ansa means “an incised, decorated handle of a vase.” The astronomical sense “one of the apparent extremities of the rings of Saturn or other celestial bodies” is a New Latin sense dating from the 17th century. Latin ānsa is akin to Old Prussian ansis “hook, kettle-hook” and Lithuanian ąsà “pot handle.”

how is ansa used?

A distinct dark patch, like a notch, visible near the middle of the ansa, broadest on the face of ring, and extending nearly from the inner to outer edge.

Thomas Gwyn Elger, "Physical Observations of Saturn in 1888," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 48, 1888

The moon Epimetheus can be seen near Saturn, just above the right ansa, or the portion of the ring that appears farthest away from the planet’s disk in the image.

Jeanna Bryner, "Spectacular Saturn Images by 'Amateurs' Will Make Your Jaw Drop," Space.comSeptember 18, 2017
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Friday, July 05, 2019

thalassic

[ thuh-las-ik ]

adjective

of or relating to seas and oceans.

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What is the origin of thalassic?

Thalassic “pertaining to seas or oceans, growing or found in the sea” is a relatively rare technical term used in oceanography, usually applied to bodies of salt water such as gulfs or bays that are smaller than oceans. The adjective comes ultimately from the Greek noun thálassa, thálatta “sea, the sea, the Mediterranean Sea.” Thálassa has no reliable etymology but is from the same pre-Greek language that gave Greek an alternative form to thálassa, thálatta, namely, dalánkha, recorded only once, in a dictionary of the 5th century a.d.

Early in “Telemachus,” the first chapter of Ulysses, the irrepressible Malachi “Buck” Mulligan tries to convert a sullen Stephen Dedalus from Catholicism to Hellenism: “Ah, Dedalus, the Greeks…. You must read them in the original. Thalatta! Thalatta!” But Buck’s Hellenism is as shallow as everything else about him: he would have seen thalatta thalatta in his second or third semester of high school Greek in Book 4, Chapter 7 of the Anabasis of Xenophon, whose works were much read as school texts because of the simplicity of his style. The word thalassic entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is thalassic used?

I, recalling the crimson chamber in his castle, speculated upon his living arrangements in thalassic caverns I could scarcely conceive.

Gene Wolfe, The Urth of the New Sun, 1987

He was sure something would come from the deeps to attack the fleet. There were old thalassic Instrumentalities uglier than any revenants stirring ashore.

Glen Cook, Lord of the Silent Kingdom, 2007
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Thursday, July 04, 2019

John Hancock

[ jon han-kok ]

noun

a person's signature: Put your John Hancock on this check.

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What is the origin of John Hancock?

John Hancock (1737–93) was a prominent American patriot, statesman, and merchant, mostly unknown today except for his magnificent signature. Hancock served as president of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia when the Declaration of Independence was approved (not signed) on July 4, 1776. Hancock’s signature on the Declaration became an American colloquialism for a personal signature in the mid-19th century.

how is John Hancock used?

Let’s sign the contract right now.… Put down your John Hancock, and begin to draw the ole salary from this minute, with a month’s vacation pay!

Sinclair Lewis, Dodsworth, 1929

“Handwriting can, does, and often will change due to moods, major life changes, and stress,” McKnight says, adding that pregnancy can affect your John Hancock, too.

Elizabeth Narins, "Did Pregnancy Change Meghan Markle's Signature?" Cosmopolitan, October 22, 2018
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