Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, January 17, 2021

beamish

[ bee-mish ]

adjective

bright, cheerful, and optimistic.

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What is the origin of beamish?

You can be forgiven for thinking that beamish “bright, cheerful, optimistic” is a creation of Lewis Carroll’s: in his poem “Jabberwocky” in Through the Looking Glass (1871), Carroll wrote: “’And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? / Come to my arms, my beamish boy! / O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’ / He chortled in his joy.” Carroll was only the second English author to use beamish: the first one was John Palsgrave (ca. 1485-1545), classicist, linguist, lawyer, textbook author, and–most “interesting”–a priest serving at the court of King Henry VIII. As tutor to King Henry’s sister, Princess Mary, Palsgrave wrote and dedicated to King Henry a 1000-page French-English bilingual dictionary and contrastive grammar of English and French, Lesclarcissement de la langue francoyse (1530) “The Clarification of the French Language.” In his “Clarification,” Palsgrave translated and defined the French adjective radieux, “Beamysshe as the sonne is, radieux.”

how is beamish used?

Carell was playing Barry, a sweet, beamish misfit who builds dioramas using taxidermized mice.

Tad Friend, "First Banana," The New Yorker, June 28, 2010

As I went up the aisle at evening’s end, I was looking at rows of beamish faces, faces that were both pleased with the unfamiliar style of the show and also pleased with themselves for having managed to get the hang of it.

Walter Kerr, "A Dotty Old Friend Is Back in Town," New York Times, January 31, 1982

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Saturday, January 16, 2021

terrene

[ te-reen, tuh-, ter-een ]

adjective

earthly; worldly.

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What is the origin of terrene?

Terrene ultimately comes, via Middle English terrene, terrain, from Anglo-French terreine, terren, from Old French terrïen, from Latin terrēnus “belonging to or living on dry land, earthly, earthy, pertaining to the material part of humans, belonging to this mortal world (as opposed to the celestial or divine).” Terrēnus is a derivative of the noun terra (from unrecorded tersa) “land, dry land, mainland, surface of the earth,” from the Proto-Indo-European root ters– “to dry,” from which Greek derives térsesthai “to become dry,” Albanian ter “to dry (in the open air),” and Old English thurst “dryness,” English “thirst.” Terrene entered English in the 14th century.

how is terrene used?

Over all this Raynaud looked from his high citadel as if he had no concern in these terrene matters.

C. F. Keary, "The Four Students," Macmillan's Magazine, January 1892

we were created, and sent into the world, to struggle through many hardships; some to serve for examples to deter others from vice, some to prove that Virtue enables her votaries to rise above all terrene objects.

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, Emma; or, The Unfortunate Attachment, 1773

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Friday, January 15, 2021

ergo

[ ur-goh, er-goh ]

conjunction, adverb

therefore.

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What is the origin of ergo?

The conjunction and adverb ergo comes straight from the Latin conjunction ergō, ergo “therefore, consequently, accordingly, and so,” much used in rhetoric and logic. Ergo came into Middle English toward the end of the 14th century as a conjunction or adverb introducing the conclusion of a syllogism, e.g., “Socrates is a man, / all men are mortal; / ergo Socrates is mortal.”

how is ergo used?

Nonetheless, receiving rapid testing for the virus has become a mark of status and, ergo, a trending topic on social media.

Alyson Krueger, "Rapid Testing Is the New Velvet Rope," New York Times, August 16, 2020

Almost all professional orchestras have their own Web sites, where you can … read cute bios of the players. (The oboist bungee-jumps; ergo, musicians are human beings, not alien geeks.)

Alex Ross, "On the Road," The New Yorker, June 25, 2007

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