Word of the Day

Word of the day

Saturday, October 09, 2021

armscye

[ ahrm-sahy, -zahy ]

noun

the armhole opening in a garment through which the hand, and then the arm, passes, and to which a sleeve may be attached.

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What is the origin of armscye?

Armscye “the armhole opening in a garment” is a compound of arm and the Scots term scye “armhole.” Because scye is a borrowing from another dialect and of unknown origin, a common misinterpretation is that armscye derives from a phrase such as “arm’s eye.” This mistake is known as an eggcorn, which is a type of folk etymology that refers to the alteration of a word or phrase that has been misheard or misinterpreted. The word eggcorn itself comes from a mistaken belief that acorn, which is of Old English origin, is a recent compound of Modern English egg and corn. Other eggcorns that may ring a bell include free reign instead of the correct free rein and for all intensive purposes instead of the correct for all intents and purposes. Armscye was first recorded in English in the 1920s.

how is armscye used?

Whatever his errands were in the city, they’d involved having his beard trimmed and changing into a suit of new clothes, a sad grey-blue that well suited his olive complexion. Lightning-like lines of gold lace picked out the seams …. [I]t was only at close quarters that you could see the coarseness of the weave and the straining lines across the back under the armscye that told of poor tailoring.

Suzannah Rowntree, The City Beyond the Glass, 2018

And then I saw the muscles bunched in his shoulders that had strained the threads of the armscye apart, the heft of his chest, the improbable narrowness of his hips. Hero, with wing, grounded.

Guy Davenport, "A Field of Snow on the Slope of the Rosenberg," DaVinci's Bicycle, 1979

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Word of the day

Friday, October 08, 2021

vespertine

[ ves-per-tin, -tahyn ]

adjective

of, relating to, or occurring in the evening.

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What is the origin of vespertine?

Vespertine “of, relating to, or occurring in the evening” derives from Latin vesper “evening,” which comes from a Proto-Indo-European root with the same sense. Through this root, vesper is a cognate of the English term west, with a shift in definition because of the direction of the sunset. As we learned with the recent Word of the Day aureate, which may be related to east and Latin aurōra “dawn,” there is often an overlap between the cardinal directions and the location of the sun. Another distant relative of vesper is Ancient Greek hésperos “evening,” and its derivative Hesperus “evening star” is a nickname for the planet Venus. Vespertine was first recorded in English at the turn of the 16th century.

how is vespertine used?

A bluish evening moved in, almost as if the quietened sun wanted to aid the approaching transaction, which Schumann felt in his bones might offer an answer or at least redefine the question. An un-fog-like mist came in from the Thames and mated with the vespertine light. The millions of bricks that defined, that contained the institution tried to absorb it, and some part of them did.

Brian Catling, The Erstwhile, 2016

Up Broadway Chandler moved with the vespertine dress parade. For this evening he was an exhibit as well as a gazer. … [H]e was a true son of the great city of razzle-dazzle, and to him one evening in the limelight made up for many dark ones.

O. Henry, "Lost on Dress Parade," The Four Million, 1906

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Word of the day

Thursday, October 07, 2021

pariah

[ puh-rahy-uh ]

noun

any person or animal that is generally despised or avoided.

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What is the origin of pariah?

Pariah “a social outcast” is at its core a term for a member of a low caste in the traditional cultures of the southern Indian subcontinent. The word was adapted from Tamil paṟaiyan, literally meaning “drummer” because of that low caste’s hereditary duty. Paṟaiyan, in turn, derives from paṟai “drum.” While the majority of people from India speak an Indo-European language, such as Hindi and Bengali, the Dravidian family is predominant in southern India. Dravidian languages include Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada—each spoken by tens of millions of people. Pariah was first recorded in English in the early 1600s.

how is pariah used?

In February 1956, a Montgomery County grand jury indicted King and dozens of other boycott leaders for unlawful conspiracy. Gilmore was among those who testified at King’s trial .… The testimony made Gilmore a hero to local Blacks, [John T.] Edge says. But “in the white world she became a pariah.”

Maria Godoy, “Meet The Fearless Cook Who Secretly Fed—And Funded—The Civil Rights Movement,” NPR, January 15, 2018

Before his death, [D. H.] Lawrence was a pariah, living outside the herd and throwing bombs into it. After his death, he was reborn as a Byronic hero: W. H. Auden described the carloads of women who, having lurched across the Taos desert and up the Rocky Mountains, stood in reverence before a memorial chapel to Lawrence[.]

Frances Wilson, "The D. H. Lawrence We Forgot," The New Yorker, October 8, 2020

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