Word of the Day

Word of the day

Monday, January 11, 2021

aoristic

[ ey-uh-ris-tik ]

adjective

indefinite; indeterminate.

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What is the origin of aoristic?

Aoristic “indeterminate, undefined,” comes from Greek aoristikós, a derivative of the verbal adjective aóristos “unlimited, unbounded, indeterminate, debatable,” which is a compound of the negative prefix a-, an– (from the same Proto-Indo-European source as un– in English and in– in Latin), and the verbal adjective horistós “definable (of words), delimited (of property or land).” Horistós comes from the verb horízein “to divide, separate,” whose present active masculine participle horízōn “separating,” when modifying the noun kýklos “circle” (“the separating circle”) refers to the (apparent) circle separating the land from the sea, the horizon. Horízōn kýklos seems to be a coinage of Aristotle’s; so it can be trusted. Aoristic entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is aoristic used?

Because Gideon is away indefinitely our lives seem bracketed in a kind of aoristic limbo where things happen haphazardly, without an ordered sequence.

Elon Salmon, When There Were Heroes, 2003

She caught at the nerves like certain aoristic combinations in music, like tones of a stringed instrument swept by the wind, enticing, unseizable.

George Meredith, Beauchamp's Career, 1875

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Sunday, January 10, 2021

guileless

[ gahyl-lis ]

adjective

sincere; honest; straightforward; frank.

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What is the origin of guileless?

Guileless means “without guile, sincere, honest, frank.” Guile comes from Middle English gile, guile “a crafty or fraudulent trick, double-dealing,” from Old French guile “lie, trick, deception,” most likely from a Germanic source. The problem is: Which Germanic language or languages? From the point of view of phonetics, Old French guile could very well come from Germanic wīl, but sources are lacking: Old English wīl “device, trick” may itself be a borrowing from Old French. Old Norse vél “artifice, device, trick” is wrong for phonetic reasons. Guileless entered English in the first half of the 18th century.

how is guileless used?

Looking at them is an exercise in nostalgia not only for the languid California of the early seventies, or the looseness offered by working in a medium that had little respect from the art world and therefore no money, but for a moment when, even if only in the world of these images, the encounter between self and stranger could be guileless.

Emma Cline, "Mike Mandel's Selfies from the Seventies," The New Yorker, October 12, 2020

Guileless? Guess again, sister. There is nothing remotely guileless about this guy, and nowhere is that more evident than in his land deals.

Elizabeth Gilbert, The Last American Man, 2002

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Saturday, January 09, 2021

whithersoever

[ hwith-er-soh-ev-er, with- ]

conjunction

to whatever place.

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What is the origin of whithersoever?

Whithersoever, now archaic, meaning “to whatever place,” comes from Middle English whider-so-evere, whidersere, whidursever, an adverb phrase that could be spelled as two or three words; the one-word spelling first appears in the first half of the 17th century. Etymologists break down whithersoever in several ways: whitherso (by itself meaning “whithersoever”) + ever; whither + so + ever; whider + so-ever; and whiderso + ever. Old English has the adverb phrase swā hwider swā, which means the same thing as the Middle English forms but is not their direct ancestor. Whithersoever entered English in the first half of the 13th century.

how is whithersoever used?

Though you may cross vast spaces of sea … your faults will follow you whithersoever you travel.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c4 b.c.–a.d. 65), "On Travel as a Cure for Discontent," Seneca: Ad Lucilium epistulae morales, translated by Richard M. Gummere, 1917

From wheresoever they come and whithersoever they afterward go, all ships that use the canal will pass through the Caribbean.

Alfred Thayer Mahan, "The United States Looking Outward," The Atlantic, December 1890

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