Word of the Day

Sunday, March 11, 2018

behindhand

[ bih-hahynd-hand ]

adverb, adjective

late; tardy.

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What is the origin of behindhand?

The adverb behindhand is formed on the analogy of the much earlier beforehand, which dates from the 13th century. Behindhand is especially but not exclusively concerned with monetary transactions, but from early in its history had the sense “out of date, behind the times.” Behindhand entered English in the 16th century.

how is behindhand used?

“Hum!” cried the old gentleman, consulting a watch he carried. “I think we are twenty minutes behindhand.”

Horatio Alger, Randy of the River, 1906

I was going to pop in to see if Miss Harner was O.K., but I was a bit behindhand after collecting some flowerpots and a bucket and that what had been blown into our hedge.

Miss Read, Gossip from Thrush Green, 1981
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Saturday, March 10, 2018

krummholz

[ kroom-hohlts ]

noun

a forest of stunted trees near the timber line on a mountain.

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What is the origin of krummholz?

The German noun Krummholz, literally “crooked wood,” means “a forest of stunted trees near the timber line; elfinwood.” The German adjective krumm “bent, crooked, warped, stooping, devious” is related to British dialectal words crump “bent, crooked” and crumpback (also crump-back) “hunchback.” The German noun Holz “wood” is related to English holt and Old Norse holt. The Germanic nouns derive from Proto-Germanic hulto-, from keld-, an extended form of the Proto-Indo-European root kel- “to cut, hit.” Keld- is the source of Greek kládos “twig, branch, shoot” (and the English taxonomic term clade), and Slavic (Polish) kłoda “log.” Krummholz entered English in the early 20th century.

how is krummholz used?

A few miles away bare scree-covered slopes protruded from the gnarled krummholz, marking the trail’s maximum height.

Annie Proulx, "Testimony of the Donkey," Fine Just the Way It Is, 2008

I should point out that nowhere are the wabi and sabi palettes of time acting on nature more visible than in the krummholz–the “elfin timber,” gnarled and twisted little trees at treeline that might be a thousand years old …

Dan Simmons, “Introduction to ‘Looking for Kelly Dahl,’” Worlds Enough & Time, 2002
Friday, March 09, 2018

demonym

[ dem-uh-nim ]

noun

the name used for the people who live in a particular country, state, or other locality: Two demonyms for the residents of Michigan are Michigander and Michiganian.

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What is the origin of demonym?

The noun demonym is clearly from Greek dêmos “people, common people, common soldiery (as opposed to officers), popular government, democracy, district, country, land.” The second part of the word comes from Greek dialect (Doric, Aeolic) ónyma, a variant of ónoma “name” (the Attic and Ionic dialectal form) and is very common in compounds like antonym and pseudonym. Demonym entered English in the late 20th century.

how is demonym used?

The word “Hoosier,” which today is the demonym used to describe people from the state of Indiana, is a mystery nearing its second century. It is one of the best-known irregular demonyms for American states, along with “Yankee,” referring to someone from New York (and sometimes expanded from that into the entire Northeast), and “Buckeye,” which refers to someone from Ohio.

Dan Nosowitz, "The Unsolvable Mystery of the Word 'Hoosier'," Atlas Obscura, August 22, 2017

Shafik turns his thoughts back to the archaic demonym, Shawam, singular Shami, which is what the native Egyptians called people from a certain part of the Fertile Crescent.

Alain Farah, "Life of the Father," Granta, 141: Canada, November 9, 2017

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