• Word of the day
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    Monday, October 22, 2018

    barnstorm

    verb [bahrn-stawrm]
    to conduct a campaign or speaking tour in rural areas by making brief stops in many small towns.
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    What is the origin of barnstorm?

    The original sense of barnstorm, the theater sense, “to tour small towns and rural areas (often in barns),” dates from the second half of the 19th century. The political or campaigning sense “to conduct a speaking tour in rural areas by making brief stops in small towns,” and the professional sports sense “to tour an area playing exhibition games after the regular season” date from the end of the 19th century. The flying or piloting sense “to give exhibitions of stunt flying, participate in airplane races, etc., while touring country towns and rural areas” dates from the first half of the 20th century.

    How is barnstorm used?

    President Trump and Vice President Pence are barnstorming swing states with 68 days to go before the midterm elections. Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger, "The Hill's Morning Report -- Trump, Pence barnstorm swing states," The Hill, August 30, 2018

    ... Mr. Frotman barnstormed the country to encourage state officials to scrutinize the companies that are contracted by the department to manage the loan portfolio, collect debt from students and work out payment plans with delinquent borrowers. Glenn Thrush, "After Scaling Back Student Loan Regulations, Administration Tries to Stop State Efforts," New York Times, September 6, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, October 21, 2018

    humdinger

    noun [huhm-ding-er]
    Informal. a person, thing, action, or statement of remarkable excellence or effect.
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    What is the origin of humdinger?

    The origin of humdinger is speculative. It was originally American slang, first appearing in print at the beginning of the 20th century and in British English about 1926.

    How is humdinger used?

    ... Beethoven gave the Viennese a humdinger, something to make them sit up and take notice. Michael Steinberg, The Concerto: A Listener's Guide, 1998

    Streep, whose speeches are perfect, delivered a humdinger of a tribute to Emma Thompson, who was receiving the best-actress honor, for “Saving Mr. Banks.” Michael Schulman, "Meryl Streep Pokes Back at Male Hollywood," The New Yorker, January 9, 2014

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, October 20, 2018

    single-hearted

    adjective [sing-guhl-hahr-tid]
    sincere and undivided in feeling or spirit; dedicated; not reflecting mixed emotions: He was single-hearted in his patriotism.
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    What is the origin of single-hearted?

    Single-hearted was first recorded in 1570–80.

    How is single-hearted used?

    Whatever becomes of me, I shall remember always this single-hearted devotion of yours, Margaret, and I shall thank God that I know of it and love you for it. Edward Boltwood, "The Touchstone," The Smart Set, May 1910

    ... one gets what one goes after with single-hearted purpose, but otherwise not. Anya Seton, The Turquoise, 1946

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, October 19, 2018

    ploce

    noun [ploh-see]
    Rhetoric. the repetition of a word or phrase to gain special emphasis or to indicate an extension of meaning, as in Ex. 3:14: “I am that I am.”
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    What is the origin of ploce?

    The uncommon English rhetorical term ploce comes via Late Latin plocē from Greek plokḗ, a noun with many meanings: “twining, twisting, braid; complication (of a dramatic plot); construction (of a syllogism); web, web of deceit; (in biology) histological structure; (in rhetoric) repetition of the same word in close succession in a slightly different sense or for emphasis” (e.g., “A man should act like a man”). Greek plokḗ comes from the verb plékein “to weave, braid, twine,” from the Proto-Indo-European root plek-, plok-, source of Latin plicāre “to fold, bend, roll, twine” and the combining form -plex, used in forming numerals, e.g. simplex, duplex, triplex (equivalent to English -fold). The Proto-Indo-European neuter noun ploksom becomes flahsam in Germanic and flax in English. In Slavic (Polish), plek- forms the verb pleść “to plait, weave.” Ploce entered English in the 16th century.

    How is ploce used?

    Ploce is the repetition of the same word under different forms or with different meanings in the same sentence.... as--"Judge not, that ye be not judged." James De Mille, The Elements of Rhetoric, 1878

    There he found examples of such figures or tropes as synechdoche, metonymy, meiosis, amplification, ploce, polyptoton, etc., all designed to enhance the style of the would-be poet and preacher. Donald E. Stanford, "Edward Taylor," Major Writers of Early American Literature, 1976

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, October 18, 2018

    cryonaut

    noun [krahy-uh-nawt]
    a person whose dead body has been preserved by the technique of cryonics.
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    What is the origin of cryonaut?

    The rare noun cryonaut derives clearly and simply from the Greek nouns krýos “icy cold” and naútēs “sailor.” Krýos comes from the Proto-Indo-European root kreus-, krus- “to freeze, form a crust,” from which Greek also derives krýstallos “ice” (English crystal). Krus- is also the source of Latin crusta “a hard covering, scab, crust.” Naútēs is a derivative of the noun naûs “ship,” from the same Proto-Indo-European source as Latin nāvis “ship,” nauta “sailor,” and nāvigāre “travel by ship.” Cryonaut entered English in the 20th century.

    How is cryonaut used?

    ... cryonics ... has now been around for 60 years, since the death of retired psychology professor James H. Bedford. Alcor, the company that still has his body in a frozen chamber, calls him the first “cryonaut.” Kat Eschner, "The First Cryonic Preservation Took Place Fifty Years Ago Today," Smithsonian, January 12, 2017

    For the moment, preservation is a pricey proposition, largely because each "cryonaut" must set aside enough capital to pay for maintenance indefinitely out of interest alone. Michael Cieply, “They Freeze Death if Not Taxes,” Los Angeles Times, September 9, 1990

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, October 17, 2018

    thunderstone

    noun [thuhn-der-stohn]
    any of various stones or fossils formerly thought to be fallen thunderbolts.
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    What is the origin of thunderstone?

    Thunderstone in the sense “thunderbolt” dates from the end of the 16th century; the sense “stone or fossil” dates from the late 17th century.

    How is thunderstone used?

    Palta might not be hidden from the sky; thus the sacred thunder-stone of Terminus at Rome stood under a hole in the roof of Jupiter's temple ... Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, 1955

    In Germany until the early 20th century people believed in the magic properties of the devil's fingers, known also as catstones, thunderstones, wombstones or even candles of the dead. According to ancient lore these strange stones are falling from the sky and witches can use them to cause thunderstorms. David Bressan, "Fire burn, and cauldron bubble ... The Thunderstone," Scientific American, October 28, 2013

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, October 16, 2018

    linguaphile

    noun [ling-gwuh-fahyl]
    a language and word lover.
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    What is the origin of linguaphile?

    Linguist has existed in English since the 16th century. It means “one who is adept at learning and using foreign languages; one who is a student of language or linguistics; a translator or interpreter.” Linguaphile has a somewhat different meaning: “one who loves words or languages.” The originally Greek suffix -phile (“lover of”) is completely naturalized in English. Lingua in Latin means “tongue, language”; its Old Latin form was dingua, from Proto-Indo-European dṇghwā, which is also the source of Germanic (English) tongue, and of Celtic (Old Irish) teng, Baltic inžũ-, and Slavic (Polish) język (with Baltic and Slavic loss of initial d-; ę represents a nasalized vowel). Linguaphile entered English in the late 20th century.

    How is linguaphile used?

    The collection has so many good passages — whole paragraphs that move into pages with never a misstep — that any linguaphile could spend a great afternoon in a little spasm of dazzle. Robin Romm, "Baser Instincts," New York Times, July 19, 2013

    In the story “Entourage,” a linguaphile travels to Poland, Denmark, Germany, Turkey, and more, collecting suitcases full of books in their original languages. Nathan Scott McNamara, "Everything Was a Fake," Los Angeles Review of Books, June 8, 2018

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