Word of the Day

Sunday, October 13, 2019

aplomb

[ uh-plom, uh-pluhm ]

noun

imperturbable self-possession, poise, or assurance.

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What is the origin of aplomb?

The English adjective aplomb is from the French noun aplomb “self-possession,” literally “perpendicularity,” from the Old French phrase a plomb “perpendicularly,” literally “according to the lead weight,” from Latin ad “at, to” and plumbum “lead.” Aplomb entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is aplomb used?

… I had found that in entering with aplomb, and mounting the estrade with emphasis, consisted the grand secret of ensuring immediate silence.

Charlotte Brontë, The Professor, 1857

Whether he was coached in the art of transcendental stillness by his mother, whose acting career is not long over, has yet to be revealed, but he performed his task with aplomb.

Anthony Lane, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Introduce Their Son, a Royal Named Archie," The New Yorker, May 8, 2019
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Saturday, October 12, 2019

historiated

[ hi-stawr-ee-ey-tid, -stohr- ]

adjective

decorated with animals, flowers, or other designs that have a narrative or symbolic purpose, especially of initial letters on an illuminated manuscript.

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What is the origin of historiated?

The adjective historiated comes from Medieval Latin historiātus, the past participle of the verb historiāre “to tell a story or a narrative in pictures” (as in an illuminated manuscript or capital letter), from Latin historia “investigation, research, inquiry, a record or account of an investigation, a history,” from Greek historía, a derivation of the noun hístōr “knowing, expert.” Historiated entered English in the mid-19th century.

how is historiated used?

Historiated initials often emphasize the praiseworthiness of a certain paragraph with an elaborately illustrated letter.

Emma Green, "The Emoji Bible, Reviewed," The Atlantic, June 9, 2016

At the request of Queen Claude, he used historiated rather than purely decorative borders.

Roberta Smith, "Heaven and Earth, Sized to Grasp," New York Times, June 5, 2014
Friday, October 11, 2019

felicitate

[ fi-lis-i-teyt ]

verb (used with object)

to compliment upon a happy event; congratulate.

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What is the origin of felicitate?

The verb felicitate comes from Late Latin fēlīcitātus, past participle of fēlīcitāre “to make happy,” a derivative of the Latin adjective fēlix (inflectional stem fēlīc-) “fruitful, fertile, rich, auspicious, wealthy, lucky, blessed.” Related Latin words include fēcundus “fertile, fruitful” (English fecund); fēlāre “to suckle”; fēmina “woman, female” (English feminine); and fīlius and fīlia “son, daughter” (from which English has filial). The Latin forms derive from the Proto-Indo-European root dhē-, dhēi-, dhi– “to suck, suckle.” From that root Sanskrit has dhāya– “nourishing,” dhātrī “wet nurse, mother,” and dhḗnā “milch cow.” Greek has thēlḗ “mother’s breast, nipple,” thḗnion “milk,” tithḗnē (also títhē) “wet nurse.” Among the Celtic languages, Old Irish has dīnu “lamb” and the verb dīth “(he) sucked”; Breton has denaff “(I) suck,” and Welsh dynu “(to) suck.” Felicitate entered English in the first half of the 17th century.

how is felicitate used?

Mrs. Smithers, you will also permit me to felicitate you upon this happy event.

John Kendrick Bangs, Coffee and Repartee, 1893

The novelists appear to felicitate themselves in all sincerity upon their success …

Thomas R. Lounsbury, "Differences in English and American Usage," Harper's Monthly Magazine, Vol. 127, June–November 1913

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