Word of the Day

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

appellative

[ uh-pel-uh-tiv ]

noun

a descriptive name or designation, as Bald in Charles the Bald.

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What is the origin of appellative?

Appellative comes from the Late Latin grammatical term appellātīvus “pertaining to a common noun” and nōmen appellātīvum “a common noun” (in contrast to nōmen proprium “a proper noun”). Appellātīvus is a derivative of the verb appellāre “to speak to, address, call upon, invoke.” Appellative in the sense “descriptive name,” as Great in Alfred the Great, is a development in English dating from the first half of the 17th century. Appellative in its original Latin sense entered English in the early 16th century.

how is appellative used?

In connection with this appellative of “Whalebone whales,” it is of great importance to mention, that however such a nomenclature may be convenient in facilitating allusions to some kind of whales, yet it is in vain to attempt a clear classification of the leviathan …

Herman Melville, Moby Dick, 1851

In addition too to this almost Cimmerian gloom was the agrément of a penetrating rain, known perhaps to some of my readers by the gentle appellative of a Scotch mist …

"Goodwood Races", The Sporting Magazine, Vol. 24, No. 144, September 1829
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Tuesday, June 04, 2019

fictioneer

[ fik-shuh-neer ]

noun

a writer of fiction, especially a prolific one whose works are of mediocre quality.

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What is the origin of fictioneer?

The noun fictioneer is composed of the noun fiction and the noun suffix –eer denoting agency. The suffix is neutral in words like engineer and mountaineer, but it frequently has a pejorative sense, as in profiteer and racketeer. Fictioneer, too, has always had a hint of contempt in it: an early (1901) definition of fictioneer reads “a writer of ‘machine-made’ fiction.” Fictioneer entered English in the early 20th century.

how is fictioneer used?

If you were not a fictioneer, if you did not place a monetary value on the efforts of your imagination, I should be inclined to think that you were lying ….

Theodore Goodridge Roberts, "The Whisper," Munsey's Magazine, Vol. 54, 1915

That was long ago, and she’s a grandmother today, but still she can toss around the lingo of the Wild West with a fluency that would be the envy of a Hollywood scenarist or a fictioneer of the great open spaces.

Jean Ashton, "Revives Glories of 'Wild West'," Windsor Daily Star, August 30, 1941
Monday, June 03, 2019

fecund

[ fee-kuhnd, -kuhnd, fek-uhnd, -uhnd ]

adjective

very productive or creative intellectually: the fecund years of the Italian Renaissance.

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What is the origin of fecund?

The English adjective fecund ultimately comes from Latin fēcundus “fertile, productive,” used of humans, animals, and plants. The first syllable – is a Latin development of the Proto-Indo-European root dhē(i)– “to suck, suckle.” From – Latin forms the derivatives fēlīx “fruitful, productive, fortunate, blessed, lucky” (source of the English name Felix and felicity), fēmina “woman” (originally a feminine participle meaning “suckling”), fētus “parturition, birth, conception, begetting, young (plant or animal), child,” and fīlius and fīlia “son” and “daughter,” respectively (and source of filial). Dhē(i)– appears in Greek as thē(i)-, as in thêsthai “to suckle” and thēlḗ “nipple, teat” (an element of the uncommon English noun thelitis “inflammation of the nipple”). Fecund entered English in the 15th century.

how is fecund used?

… he possesses a fecund imagination able to spin out one successful series after another ….

John Koblin, "As the Streaming Wars Heat Up, Ryan Murphy Cashes In," New York Times, February 14, 2018

He sort of reminded me of Billy Name … the guy who pretty much functioned as the Factory’s foreman during its most fecund years.

Mark Leyner, Gone with the Mind, 2016

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