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reversion to an earlier type; throwback.
The Latin noun behind the English noun atavism is atavus “great-great-great grandfather; ancestor.” Atavus is formed from atta “daddy,” a nursery word widespread in Indo-European languages, e.g., Greek átta “daddy,” and the possibly Gothic proper name Attila “little father, daddy.” The second element, avus “(maternal) grandfather,” also has cognates in other Indo-European languages, e.g., Old Prussian (an extinct Baltic language related to Latvian and Lithuanian) awis “uncle,” and, very familiar in English, those Scottish and Irish surnames beginning with “O’,” e.g., O’Connor “descended from Connor”). The Celtic “O’” comes from Irish ó “grandson,” from early Irish aue, and appearing as avi “descendant of” in ogham (an alphabet used in archaic Irish inscriptions from about the 5th century). Atavism entered English in the 19th century.
So much of their business was done via e-mail that the phone was almost unnecessary–a sort of quaint atavism that nobody thought to use first–but this morning the ringing had been ceaseless.
Because the United States has proved successful in absorbing people from so many different backgrounds, the American political elite has, since the mid-20th century at least, tended to look on group identity as a kind of irrational atavism.
Chiefly British. to sleep or lie down in any convenient place.
The origin of the English verb doss is obscure. It is most likely derived from the Latin noun dossum, a variant of dorsum “the back (of the body),” a noun of unclear origin. The verb endorse comes from Medieval Latin indorsāre “to write on or sign the back of a document”; the adjective dorsal “having a back or located on the back” is most likely familiar as an anatomical term, especially referring to the fin of a shark or a dolphin. Doss entered English in the late 18th century.
… he was too old to doss on furniture night after night.
I didn’t want a place to doss down.
a rumbling noise heard occasionally in some parts of the world, probably caused by seismic activity.
Brontide is an uncommon word, probably formed from the Greek noun brontḗ “thunder” and the suffix -ide, a variant of -id (“offspring of”) occurring originally in loanwords from Greek, and productive in English especially in names of dynasties (e.g., Attalid) and in names of periodic meteor showers, with the base noun usually denoting the constellation in which the shower appears (e.g., Perseid). Brontḗ appears in brontosaurus “thunder lizard” and is from the same Proto-Indo-European root bhrem- (with a variant brem-) “to growl” as Latin fremitus “dull roar,” Old High German breman and Old English bremman, both meaning “to roar,” and Slavic (Polish) brzmieć “to make a sound.” Brontide entered English about 2000.
“What’s a brontide?” she said, keeping him from bolting. … “They’re like thunder on a clear day. They’re like the unexplained sounds of artillery when there’s no battle.”
… he urges that brontides predominate in countries which are subject to earthquakes, that they are often heard as heralds of earthquakes, and are specifically frequent during seismic series, and that brontides are sometimes accompanied by very feeble tremors.
lustful or sensual.
Not many Latin words are as easy to break down into their component parts as concupiscent is. The first element is a variant of the preposition and prefix cum “with,” here used as an intensive prefix (“thoroughly”). The second element is the Latin root cup- “desire.” The third, -isc, is the inceptive (also called inchoative) suffix (“beginning to …”). The final element is -ent, the inflectional stem of the present participle; concupiscent literally means “beginning to strongly desire” or simply “desirous.” Concupiscent entered English in the 14th century.
He looks at Faust’s romance with Gretchen (Camilla Horn) with an agonized tenderness, and at Mephisto’s courtship of the concupiscent Marthe (Yvette Guilbert) with rib-shaking ribaldry.
He’d have bet his Porsche, from that one look, that she had summed him up as one more concupiscent old guy, easily manipulated.
of or relating to the eyelids.
The Latin noun palpebra (also palpebrum) “eyelid” is composed of the verb palpāre “to touch, stroke, caress” and -brum, a suffix forming nouns of instruments, e.g., candēlābrum “a stand for holding several candles, candelabra.” Palpāre derives from a complicated Proto-Indo-European root pāl- (from peǝl-) and its many variants, e.g., pel-, pelǝ-, plē-, etc. “to touch, feel, flutter, float.” A palpebra is “something that flutters (quickly).” The root is also the source of Latin palpitāre “(of a pulse) to beat, pulsate,” pāpiliō “butterfly, moth,” and Old English fēlan “to examine by touch,” English feel. Palpebral entered English in the mid-18th century.
adrift on a gold-brown leather recliner, / the little finger of her left hand tapping / on the crocheted antimacassar, / palpebral twitches of chronic hypnagogia.
In his palpebral vision, she beckoned.
to sulk; mope.
The rare English verb mump is akin to the equally rare Dutch mompen “to mumble, grumble,” and the magnificent German verbs mumpfen “to chew with one’s mouth full” and mimpfeln “to mumble while eating.” The Germanic verbs most likely derive from a Proto-Indo-European root meuǝ- “be silent,” from which English also derives mum “silent,” Latin mūtus “silent, mute,” and Greek mustḗrion “secret rite, mystery,” a derivative of mústēs “an initiate,” a derivative of mueîn “to initiate, instruct, teach,” itself a derivative of múein “to close the eyes, mouth, or other opening” (lest one reveal what is not to be revealed). Mump entered English in the 16th century.
Up, Dullard! It is better service to enjoy a novel than to mump.
Come, my dear fellow, do not spoil the excellent impression you have already made. I am sure to mump and moan is not in you …
to think out; devise; invent.
Excogitate comes from Latin excōgitātus, the past participle of excōgitāre meaning “to devise, invent, think out.” It entered English in the 1520s.
I wouldn’t put the question to you for the world, and expose you to the inconvenience of having to … excogitate an answer.
The average politician knows fully as little or as much about railway management as he does about photographing the moon or applying the solar spectrum; yet, once upon a board of railway commissioners, he is required to excogitate and frame rules for an industry which not only supplies the financial arteries of a continent, but holds the lives as well as the credits of its citizens dependent upon the click of a telegraph or the angle of a semaphore …