Word of the Day

Monday, September 14, 2020

blatherskite

[ blath-er-skahyt ]

noun

a person given to voluble, empty talk.

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What is the origin of blatherskite?

Blatherskite “one who is given to voluble, empty talk,” which dates from the middle of the 19th century, was originally and remains mostly an Americanism. Blatherskite is a variant of Scottish bletherskate, which dates from the mid-17th century and is a compound of the verb blether or blather “to talk nonsense” and the Anglo-American slang word skate “person, contemptible person, broken-down horse.” Another variant, bladderskate, appears in the traditional Scottish song “Maggie Lauder,” which was popular among American soldiers during the American Revolution.

how is blatherskite used?

This appeared to deeply offend Deputy Gregorig, who shouted back at Iro, “You cowardly blatherskite, say that again!”

Mark Twain, "Stirring Times in Austria," Harper's Magazine, March 1898

Ms. Murphy had already developed, for one reason or another, a reputation for fragility, and the blatherskites around Broadway began whispering.

Campbell Robertson, "No Ill Feelings: Producers Bet on a 'Superwoman,'" New York Times, April 30, 2007

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

lapidify

[ luh-pid-uh-fahy ]

verb (used with or without object)

Archaic.

to turn into stone.

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What is the origin of lapidify?

The relatively rare verb lapidify, “to turn into or become stone, petrify,” comes via French lapidifier from Medieval Latin lapidificāre. Lapidificāre is a transparent compound of Latin lapid– (the inflectional stem of lapis “stone”) and the Latin verb-forming suffix –ficāre, ultimately a derivative of facere “to make, do.” The resemblance between lapis and Greek lépas “bare rock” is “hardly accidental,” as the pros say: Both words probably come from a Mediterranean (non-Indo-European) language. Lapidify entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is lapidify used?

Perhaps in a few months a slow seepage, rich in minerals, would return to these passages and gradually glue their bodies to the rocks where they sat, to seal their crypt and lapidify their bones.

David Brin, Earth, 1990

The rule of the Abang, in an age when the techniques existed to lapidify any rule to permanency, was, because of the very rise of a party, doomed.

Anthony Burgess, The Enemy in the Blanket, 1958

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Saturday, September 12, 2020

threequel

[ three-kwuhl ]

noun

the third in a series of literary works, movies, etc.; a second sequel: The first two films in this underworld anthology were cinematic gems, but the threequel was at best a disappointment.

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What is the origin of threequel?

Threequel, “the third in a series of literary works, movies, etc.; a second sequel,” is a very recent neologism dating from around 1980. Threequel is an obvious compound of three and (se)quel. The term pops up in amusingly dismissive reviews of Jaws 3-D (a.k.a. Jaws III and Jaws 3), Rambo III, and RoboCop 3.

how is threequel used?

Threequels present a unique challenge: audiences expect the exact same cast to make them feel the exact same way the first two installments did, but with an entirely new and original storyline.

Seth Grossman, "This Wasn’t Even Good Reality TV," New York Times, October 20, 2016

2011’s five top-grossing films tell a very different story: one sequel (The Hangover Part II), one threequel (Transformers: Dark of the Moon), two fourquels (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)—and one eightquel (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2).

Scott Meslow, "Between 'Potter' and 'Hunger Games,' a Spotty Decade for Teen-Lit Films," The Atlantic, March 22, 2012

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