Word Of The Year
a painted, drawn, or sculptured free form or design suggestive in shape of a living organism, especially an ameba or protozoan: The paintings of Joan Miró are often notable for their playful, bright-colored biomorphs.
Biomorph is easily broken down to the combining forms bio– and –morph, both Greek in origin and both thoroughly naturalized in English. Bio– comes from Greek bíos “life, mode of life, the world we live in” (bíos does not mean “animal life,” which is zōḗ). The combining form –morph comes from the Greek combining form –morphós, a derivative of the noun morphḗ “form, shape, beauty.” Morphḗ may perhaps be related to Latin forma, perhaps via Etruscan (the usual suspect). Biomorph entered English at the end of the 19th century.
She painted biomorphs and wonky grids within the defined parameters of the picture plane ….
There is nothing bitter or sweet about this antsy, unnamable biomorph; refusing to stay put in its own painterly space, it reels … into ours — willfully rude and buoyantly playful, a jolt of unalloyed energy.
dealing lightly and gracefully with a subject; brilliantly playful: lambent wit.
Lambent comes straight from Latin lambent-, the inflectional stem of the present participle lambēns, from the verb lambere “to lick, (of food or liquid) lick up, suck up, absorb.” Lambere has the transferred senses “(of fire) to play upon, lick,” “(of water) to wash, bathe,” and “(of creeping plants) to surround, wreathe.” The only English sense deriving from the Latin is “running or moving lightly over a surface”; the other senses, including “dealing lightly and gracefully with a subject,” developed within English. Lambent entered English in the mid-17th century.
There is the lightning wit that flashes of a short sentence or an apt reply, and there is the lambent wit that sparkles either by description or dialogue.
He goes to Oxford, where his lambent gift of tongues is recognized and encouraged, and then to war, where everything he values is laid waste.
verb (used with object)
to atone for; make amends or reparation for.
The verb expiate, “to atone for, make amends for, make reparation for,” comes from Latin expiātus, the past participle of expiāre “to make atonement to the gods for, appease, propitiate (deities, spirits),” a compound formed by the intensive prefix ex– and the simple verb piāre “to propitiate (a deity, spirit),” a derivative of the very important Roman adjective pius “dutiful, faithful (to the gods, one’s country, family, kindred, and friends).” Aeneas is called pius Aeneas 20 times in the Aeneid. Expiate entered English in the early 17th century.
Ridding oneself of guilt is often easier than overcoming shame, in part because our society offers many ways to expiate guilt-inducing offenses, including apologizing, paying fines, and serving jail time.
Carbon offsets do seem to offer the most direct way to assuage traveler’s guilt. In theory, they magically expiate your sins.
of or characteristic of the earth or its inhabitants; terrestrial.
The adjective and noun tellurian ultimately derive from the Latin noun tellūs (inflectional stem tellūr-) “ground, dry land, earth, the earth.” In English the adjective tellurian, meaning pretty much the same as terrestrial, was a technical term used in astronomy. Tellurian used as a noun, “an inhabitant of earth, earthling,” appears in the first half of the 19th century. Throughout much of the 20th century, tellurian, adjective and noun, occurs especially in science fiction. Tellūs comes from a Proto-Indo-European root tel– “flat, level, floor, ground,” the root of Sanskrit tala– “flat surface, flat of the hand”; Old Irish talam “earth”; Old Prussian (an extinct Baltic language) talus “floor (of a room)”; and Greek tēlía “board for rolling dice on, kitchen board.” Tellurian entered English in the second half of the 18th century.
That … I should feel in touch with something that I am, or was, and yet seems to go beyond the rational either bespeaks the power of self-delusion in even those with trained minds, or reveals that tellurian force still present and available to us …
Her [the moon’s] antiquity in preceding and surviving successive tellurian generations …
full of bends or curves; sinuous.
Flexuous comes straight from Latin flexuōsus “full of bends or turns, winding,” an adjective derived from the noun flexus “an act of bending, turning, or swerving, or of turning a corner,” which in turn is a derivative of the verb flectere “to bend, curve, curl (the hair).” Further etymology of flectere is uncertain. Flexuous is not common in English; the word is used chiefly in zoology and botany. Flexuous entered English in the early 17th century.
The searching stems are gently flexuous, belying their innate urge to reach up to the light.
… George Best corkscrewing his way past man after man on a flexuous run of perfect balance and improvised brilliance.
objects, as coins, tools, etc., used by a teacher to illustrate everyday living.
Realia comes from the Late Latin adjective reālia “real things, facts,” the neuter plural of reālis used as a noun. Reālis is a derivative of the noun rēs “thing, matter, affair” (three of the word’s many, many meanings). The earliest English usage of realia referred to German culture and educational systems, specifically the Realschule, a secondary school specializing in practical subjects rather than the liberal arts. In the United States since the late 1890s, realia have meant ordinary, everyday objects used as teaching aids for children. This is nothing new: in the first century a.d., the Roman rhetorician Quintilian recommended using large letters carved of wood, easy for children to handle, to help them learn the alphabet. Realia entered English in the first half of the 19th century.
For students to learn a new language in meaningful contexts, teachers must use every instructional strategy available to them, including the use of actual objects (realia), pictures, videos, and gestures to express meaning.
Many libraries contain realia, or real artifacts. School libraries may include various kinds of rock for the study of geology; cultural libraries may possess objects such as the toki ….
an imaginary land described to children as the place they enter during sleep.
Slumberland is a humorous, poetic, or childish word. It first appears in the Decadent poet Algernon Swinburne’s Tristram of Lyonesse and other Poems (1882): “The great good wizard … Takes his strange rest at heart of slumberland.” Slumber, “to sleep, doze,” comes from Middle English slumeren, frequentative of slumen “to doze,” itself a derivative of Old English slūma “sleep.”
… Drew Ackerman created a podcast to lead listeners into slumberland.
Every time the boy thinks he has ushered them into slumberland, with the goal of getting some shut-eye himself, a new obstacle pops up (“Is something wrong?” “I need my coil!”/ “My sensor aches!” “I want more oil!”).