Word of the Day

Monday, October 21, 2019

bon vivant

[ bon vee-vahnt; French bawn vee-vahn ]

noun

a person who lives luxuriously and enjoys good food and drink.

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What is the origin of bon vivant?

Bon vivant is completely unnaturalized in English; indeed, if the term were naturalized, it would lose its je ne sais quoi. In French bon vivant simply means “good liver” (a person, not the organ about which every French person is concerned). Bon is a masculine singular adjective meaning “good,” which comes straight from Latin bonus. Vivant is the masculine singular present participle of vivre “to live,” straight from Latin vīvere. The plural of bon vivant is bons vivants, which has the same pronunciation. One also sees the feminine form (not nearly so common), bonne vivante and its plural bonnes vivantes. Bon vivant entered English at the end of the 17th century.

how is bon vivant used?

… his creditors had tampered with his honest name and reputation as a bon vivant. He have bad wine! For shame! He had the best from the best wine-merchant …..

William Makepeace Thackeray, The Adventures of Philip on His Way Through the World, 1862

Jean-Jacques was a bon vivant and might even bring along a couple Cuban cigars ….

M. L. Longworth, Death in the Vines, 2013
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Sunday, October 20, 2019

pepita

[ puh-pee-tuh, pe- ]

noun

the edible seed of a pumpkin or squash, used in cooking and often dried or toasted and eaten as a snack food.

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What is the origin of pepita?

Pepita in 16th-century Spanish meant “naturally occurring nugget or lump of metal, especially gold,” an extension of its original meaning “seed, kernel.” The more recent sense of pepita, “the edible seed of a pumpkin or squash,” arose in the early 1940s.

how is pepita used?

… if you want a crunchy, moderately healthy Halloween snack to munch on … head to the bulk aisle of your local health food store and pick up some pepitas that are actually fit for human consumption.

L. V. Anderson, "You're Doing It Wrong: Pumpkin Seeds," Slate, October 30, 2013

Claire ladled out a Hubbard squash bisque sprinkled with chili-crusted pepitas.

Steven Raichlen, Island Apart, 2012
Saturday, October 19, 2019

canny

[ kan-ee ]

adjective

astute; shrewd; knowing; sagacious: a canny negotiator.

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What is the origin of canny?

Canny originally meant “knowing, wise,” and was a doublet of cunning, originally “knowledgeable, learned, skillful.” Canny (and cunning) both derive from Old English cunnan “to become acquainted with, know” (Modern English verb can). All of the citations of canny before, say, 1800, are from Scottish authors, and the word is first attested in the latter half of the 16th century. Uncanny is also originally Scottish, but feels as American as the pulp horror and sci-fi magazines of the 1930s. The now usual sense of uncanny, “having a supernatural or inexplicable basis,” dates from the mid-19th century.

how is canny used?

He thought himself canny and alert, able to uncover plots, or flatter the great and trick them, bend events to his will.

Tanith Lee, White as Snow, 2000

You have had things all your own way for all your life (… your brothers are much more canny than you are about political issues).

Jane Smiley, Private Life, 2010

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