Word of the Day

Friday, August 30, 2019

banalize

[ buh-nal-ahyz, -nah-lahyz, beyn-l-ahyz ]

verb (used with object)

to render or make devoid of freshness or originality; trivialize: Television has often been accused of banalizing even the most serious subjects.

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What is the origin of banalize?

Banalize “to render or make banal, trivialize” dates only from the mid-20th century. Banalize is a derivative of the adjective banal “lacking freshness or originality, trite, hackneyed.” Banal comes from Old French banal, banel “communal, open to the public,” from ban “public proclamation, edict, (in ecclesiastical usage) an official notice of an intended marriage, given three times in the parish church of each of the betrothed,” usually used in the plural banns or bans. In secular life, ban in feudal times meant “a summons from a lord or sovereign to a vassal to perform military service.” Any American male of a certain age who has ever received a letter personally addressed to him from The President of the United States, beginning with “Greeting:” would consider a ban like that as anything but banal.

how is banalize used?

Once the human tragedy has been completed, it gets turned over to the journalists to banalize into entertainment.

Philip Roth, I Married a Communist, 1998

… these poets suffer by living in an anti-Romantic hollow, when the lyric occasion is no longer a noble and high thing, (let alone a public thing) but has been banalized and domesticated.

James Wood, "Several General Conclusions," Slate, January 14, 1999
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Thursday, August 29, 2019

wiredraw

[ wahyuhr-draw ]

verb (used with object)

to strain unwarrantably, as in meaning.

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What is the origin of wiredraw?

The verb wiredraw, which entered English at the end of the 16th century, is a back formation from the agent noun wiredrawer, which dates from the 13th century and means—get this!—a worker whose job is to draw metal into wire (by forcibly pulling metal through holes of smaller and smaller diameter). Readers with scholarly interests will be familiar with the adjective wiredrawn “(of scholarly arguments) overrefined, overly subtle, contrived”—an occupational hazard.

how is wiredraw used?

He wiredraws every thing, and endeavours to misrepresent every circumstance of the story.

Thomas Morgan, The Moral Philosopher, Vol. 2, 1739

They wiredraw their arguments to such a length, that they absolutely weaken the very impression which a previous part of their speech may have produced.

James Grant, The Bench and the Bar, Vol. 2, 1837
Wednesday, August 28, 2019

sanguine

[ sang-gwin ]

adjective

cheerfully optimistic, hopeful, or confident: a sanguine disposition; sanguine expectations.

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What is the origin of sanguine?

Sanguine comes from the Middle English adjective and noun sanguyn(e), sanguyn(e) “blood red, blood-red cloth, rosy hue, ruddy (of complexion), dominated by the humor blood, the humor blood.” The Middle English forms come from the Old French adjective sanguin(e), from the Latin adjective sanguineus “crimson, bloody, bloodstained. polluted with blood,” a derivative adjective of sanguis (stem sanguin-) “blood.” Neither sanguis nor sanguineus has any sense of the humor blood, which in medieval physiology is one of the four elemental fluids of the body (blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile) regarded as determining, by their relative proportions, a person’s physical and mental constitution (their complexion). The medieval physiological theory actually dates back at least as far as Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” (c460–375 b.c.); it was adopted by Galen (c129–216 a.d.), the Greek physician and medical writer and afterward by Muslim and medieval scholars. Sanguine entered English in the 14th century.

how is sanguine used?

Today, investors seem sanguine about risks.

Floyd Norris, "Going Long: Bond Buyers Are Sanguine," New York Times, May 9, 1993

As his temper therefore was naturally sanguine, he indulged it on this occasion, and his imagination worked up a thousand conceits, to favour and support his expectations of meeting his dear Sophia in the evening.

Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, 1749

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