Word of the Day

Word of the day

Saturday, June 23, 2018

backstairs

[ bak-stairz ]

adjective

secret, underhanded, or scandalous: backstairs gossip.

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What is the origin of backstairs?

Backstairs was first recorded in 1635-45. It’s the adjectival extension of the noun back stairs.

how is backstairs used?

I say to Lord Hartington before you all, not by any backstairs intrigue and not by any secret negotiations, but in the face of this great meeting held in this great town and before all of England … “Come over and help us!”

Herbert Maxwell, "Lord Randolph Churchill," The National Review, Vol. XXV, March to August 1895

He would never believe it–it was a nasty piece of backstairs gossip!

Upton Sinclair, The Metropolis, 1908
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Word of the day

Friday, June 22, 2018

pellucid

[ puh-loo-sid ]

adjective

clear in meaning, expression, or style: a pellucid way of writing.

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What is the origin of pellucid?

English pellucid comes from the Latin adjective pellūcidus (the usual Latin spelling is perlūcidus) “very clear, transparent.” The Latin adjective lūcidus is thoroughly naturalized in English lucid, but the Latin prefix and preposition per- is worth explanation. In Latin per- is used to intensify adjectives, adverbs, and verbs, e.g., perbonus “very good, excellent,” perbrevis “very short,” perbene “very well,” perbellē “very charmingly,” and percelebrāre “to make thoroughly known.” The Greek prefix and preposition perí- serves the same purpose, as in Periklês (c495-429 b.c.), the Athenian statesman, from the adjective perikleês “very famous.” Pellucid entered English in the 17th century.

how is pellucid used?

His art is highly complex, but its expression is so pellucid, so simple, that we can see only its body, never the mechanism of its body.

Edward Garnett, "Introduction," The Novels of Ivan Turgenev, 1906

Trump’s ramblings about Vladi­mir Putin were positively pellucid in their clarity compared with his March 29 comments on the U.S.-South Korea trade deal …

Max Boot, "What on earth is Trump saying?" Washington Post, April 11, 2018

Word of the day

Thursday, June 21, 2018

summerize

[ suhm-uh-rahyz ]

verb

to prepare (a house, car, etc.) so as to counteract the hot weather of summer: to summerize a house by adding air conditioning.

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What is the origin of summerize?

In the late 18th century, summerize meant “to spend the summer,” a sense rarely used nowadays. In the mid-19th century in the U.S. in colloquial usage, summerize acquired its usual meaning “to prepare for summer.”

how is summerize used?

Swap out the stiff white shirt for button-downs in mellower colors. “If you’re in finance, it’s hard to make a big fashion statement, but this is a good way to summerize your wardrobe,” says Coats.

, "7 stylish office looks for summer (including 4 that will cool off even the strictest of dress codes)," Forbes, June 7, 2017

The spark plugs don’t need to be changed for three years, and the motor can “summerize” itself by fogging the cylinders with oil when you put your machine away in the spring.

Ezra Dyer, "Dashing Through the Snow," New York Times, January 29, 2009

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