Word of the Day

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

blossom

[ blos-uhm ]

verb

to flourish; develop: a writer of commercial jingles who blossomed out into an important composer.

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What is the origin of blossom?

Blossom in both the noun and the verb senses dates back to Old English. The Old English verb blōstmian “to bloom, blossom, effloresce” is a derivative of the noun blōstm, blōstma, blōsma “blossom, flower.” The English words blossom, bloom, and blow (“a yield or display of blossoms”) are all Germanic derivatives of the Proto-Indo-European root bhel-, bhlē-, bhlō– (and other variants) “to thrive, bloom.” In Latin the root appears in flōs (inflectional stem flōr-) “flower“ (which via Old French yields English flower, flour, and flourish). English florescent comes straight from Latin flōrescent-, the inflectional stem of flōrescēns, the present participle of flōrescere “to come into bloom.” Other English derivatives from Latin include floral and folium “leaf,” which becomes, again through Old French, English foil. Greek has the noun phýllon “leaf,” whose most common English derivative is probably chlorophyll.

how is blossom used?

… the beauty of their island only blossomed the further through time they moved away from it.

Roxane Gay, An Untamed State, 2014

This bit of utilitarian Web ephemera [the hashtag], invented with functionality squarely in mind, has blossomed into a marvelous and underappreciated literary device.

Julia Turner, "#InPriaseOfTheHashtag," New York Times Magazine, November 2, 2012
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Tuesday, May 07, 2019

camp

[ kamp ]

noun

something that provides sophisticated, knowing amusement, as by virtue of its being artlessly mannered or stylized, or self-consciously artificial and extravagant.

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What is the origin of camp?

Many explanations have been offered, but the etymology of camp “something that provides sophisticated, knowing amusement, as by virtue of its being artlessly mannered or stylized, or self-consciously artificial and extravagant” remains obscure. The term entered English in the early 1900s.

how is camp used?

Indeed the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.

Susan Sontag, "Notes on 'Camp'," Partisan Review, Vol. 31, No. 4, 1964

From “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to the current celebration of all things Warhol and Banksy’s self-destructing painting, Mr. Bolton sees the explosion of camp as a partial riposte to the corresponding rise of extreme conservatism and populism.

Vanessa Friedman, "Met Costume Institute Embraces 'Camp' for 2019 Blockbuster Show," New York Times, October 9, 2018
Monday, May 06, 2019

wilder

[ wil-der ]

verb

to cause to lose one's way.

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What is the origin of wilder?

The rare, archaic verb wilder “to lead astray” is pronounced with a short –i– as in children, not a long –i– as in child. The etymology of wilder is difficult: it looks like a frequentative verb formed from the adjective wild, or an irregular derivative from wilderness that was influenced by wander. Wilder entered English in the early 17th century.

how is wilder used?

Many an older head than his has been wildered by that fatal uniformity, that endless wilderness of green, those seeming tracks, which only lead deeper and deeper into the heart of the deadly scrub.

Harriet M. Davidson, "The Hamiltons," Chapter VII, Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 771, October 5, 1878

… in such a manner as to wilder the soul into vast and unthought-of horrors.

Thomas Goodwin (1600–1680), The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Vol. 3, 1861

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