• Word of the day
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    Thursday, May 24, 2018

    antemeridian

    adjective [an-tee-muh-rid-ee-uhn]
    occurring before noon.
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    What is the origin of antemeridian?

    The Latin adverbial phrase ante merīdiem means “before midday, before noon.” The noun merīdiēs is a dissimilation of medīdiēs “middle of the day, midday, south,” formed from the adjective medius “middle, middle of” and the noun diēs “day.” The Roman polymath Varro (c116-c27 b.c.) wrote that he saw the archaic or dialectal form medīdiēs on a sundial in Praeneste (modern Palestrina), a town east southeast of Rome. Antemeridian entered English in the 16th century.

    How is antemeridian used?

    And what, pray tell, is the point of “Twitter”? Seriously, I don't “get” it. I meanest, I see what people use it for; I simply do not comprehend the urge to share publicly thy basest observations about celebrated thespians during ceremonies of awards and the quality of thy antemeridian coffee ... Teddy Wayne, "My Kingdom for an English Course!" New York Times, November 9, 2013

    In the first antemeridian hours there was a lull in the restless hotel night. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, 1955

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    flubdub

    noun [fluhb-duhb]
    pretentious nonsense or show; airs.
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    What is the origin of flubdub?

    There is no etymology other than “fanciful coinage” or “of unknown origin” for flubdub. It is used as a common noun but first appears in print as a surname in 1885.

    How is flubdub used?

    He had, by intently listening to lawyers who had delivered him from justice in the 43 times he had stood prisoner before city and county courts, acquired an astonishing hash of legalistic flubdub. Meyer Berger, "Murder Inc.: Justice Overtakes the Largest and Most Cruel Gang of Killers in U.S. History," Life, September 30, 1940

    Next to seeing a ballgame, the best thing is to sit in the studio with Mr. Barber and watch and listen as he takes the skeletonized report of a game coming over the telegraph wire and wraps up the bare bones with flubdub and pads it out and feeds it to the customers so it sounds as though he, and they, were seeing the plays. Red Smith, "It's All Genuine, Although Synthetic," New York Herald Tribune, August 28, 1946

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, May 22, 2018

    cynosure

    noun [sahy-nuh-shoor, sin-uh-]
    something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance, interest, etc.: the cynosure of all eyes.
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    What is the origin of cynosure?

    In Greek Kynósoura means “dog’s tail” and is also the name of the constellation Ursa Minor (also known as the Lesser Bear, Little Bear, and especially in American usage, the Little Dipper). The first element of Kynósoura is the genitive singular of the Greek noun kúōn “dog, bitch, shepherd dog, watchdog.” Greek kúōn (and its stem kun-) come a very wide spread Proto-Indo-European noun kúwōn (stems kwon-, kun-) “dog,” source of Sanskrit śvā́ (also śuvā́) (stem śun-), Old Prussian sunis, Germanic (German) Hund “dog,” (Old English) hund, (English hound). Greek ourā́ “tail” is akin to Greek órrhos “rump” (from orso-) comes from Proto-Indo-European orsos “buttocks, rump, tail,” source of Germanic (German) Arsch and English arse (ass in American English). Cynosure entered English at the end of the 16th century.

    How is cynosure used?

    The throne of the gods was the most famous institution in Atvatabar. It was the cynosure of every eye, the object of all adoration, the tabernacle of all that was splendid in art, science and spiritual perfection. William R. Bradshaw, The Goddess of Atvatabar, 1892

    ... the garden’s look will be substantially different, with 16 new pieces by artists including ... Katharina Fritsch, whose “Hahn/Cock,” an ultramarine rooster more than 20 feet tall, might challenge “Spoonbridge” as the garden’s cynosure. Robin Pogrebin and Randy Kennedy, "The New Cherries on Top of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden," New York Times, January 21, 2016

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, May 21, 2018

    adultescent

    noun [ad-uhl-tes-uhnt, uh-duhl-]
    a young adult or middle-aged person who has interests, traits, etc., that are usually associated with teenagers.
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    What is the origin of adultescent?

    The informal noun kidult, a combination of kid and adult, which dates from about 1960, has mostly been replaced by the equally informal noun adultescent (from adult and adolescent), which first appears in the mid-1990s.

    How is adultescent used?

    It almost seems as if we’re actively trying to raise a nation of “adultescents.” Elizabeth Kolbert, "Spoiled Rotten," The New Yorker, July 2, 2012

    Adultescent came of age in 2004, but only as a word. The adult it describes is too busy playing Halo 2 on his Xbox or watching SpongeBob at his parents' house to think about growing up. John Tierney, "Adultescent," New York Times, December 26, 2004

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, May 20, 2018

    sub rosa

    adverb [suhb roh-zuh]
    confidentially; secretly; privately.
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    What is the origin of sub rosa?

    The English adverbial phrase sub rosa comes directly from the Latin phrase sub rosā “under the rose,” from the use of a rose suspended from the ceiling of the council chamber during meetings to symbolize the sworn confidence of the participants. This use of the rose is based on the Greek myth that Aphrodite (Latin Venus) gave a rose to her son Eros (Latin Cupid); Eros then gave the rose to Harpocrates, the god of silence and secrets, to ensure that Aphrodite’s dalliances remained hidden. Sub rosa entered English in the 17th century.

    How is sub rosa used?

    He was too impatient. He should've worked sub rosa, built a wider network of supporters; and he should not have struck openly. Michael Flynn, In the Lion's Mouth, 2011

    Besides the pleasure of a newly acquired possession, there is an agreeable feeling of having bought it sub rosa. Daniele Varè, Maker of Heavenly Trousers, 1935

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, May 19, 2018

    omnifarious

    adjective [om-nuh-fair-ee-uhs]
    of all forms, varieties, or kinds.
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    What is the origin of omnifarious?

    English omnifarious comes from the Late Latin adjective omnifarius “of all sorts.” The combining form omni- in omnifarious is completely naturalized in English and needs no explanation. The element -farious comes from the Latin combining form -fārius, -farius, which is used to form multiplicative adjectives (e.g., twofold, threefold, simplex, duplex) and is a back formation from the Late Latin adjective bifārius “twofold, double,” in turn derived from the Latin adverb bifāriam “in two parts or places.” Omnifarious entered English in the 17th century.

    How is omnifarious used?

    ... these essays in Mr. Trilling's new book all aim directly or indirectly at the central suppositions of our omnifarious 20th-century culture. Robie Macauley, "From the Particular to the Universal," New York Times, November 14, 1965

    The point here is all these other “platforms” offer but a fraction of the omnifarious ~500 product and services that Google subsidizes to offer for free in “competition” with mostly fee-based proprietary platform products and services. Scott Cleland, "Why Google's Not a 'Platform,'" Forbes, October 19, 2011

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, May 18, 2018

    spagyric

    adjective [spuh-jeer-ik]
    pertaining to or resembling alchemy; alchemic.
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    What is the origin of spagyric?

    The rare adjective spagyric comes from New Latin spagiricus “alchemical; alchemy; an alchemist” and was first used and probably coined by the Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus (c1493–1541). There is no trustworthy etymology for the word. Spagyric entered English in the late 16th century.

    How is spagyric used?

    He saw the true gold into which the beggarly matter of existence may be transmuted by spagyric art; a succession of delicious moments, all the rare flavours of life concentrated, purged of their lees, and preserved in a beautiful vessel. Arthur Machen, The Hill of Dreams, 1907

    I fear that many a practitioner of the spagyric art has perished handling it without due respect. Jacqueline Carey, Miranda and Caliban, 2017

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