Word of the Day

Saturday, August 01, 2020

bonanza

[ buh-nan-zuh, boh- ]

noun

a source of great and sudden wealth or luck; a spectacular windfall: The play proved to be a bonanza for its lucky backers.

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What is the origin of bonanza?

Bonanza is a Mexican Spanish noun that entered American English in the early 1840s. In Spanish bonanza means “fair, calm weather (for sailing); prosperity.” Bonanza is a nasalized variant of Vulgar and Medieval Latin bonacia, bonatzia “calm sea,” which is a blend of the Latin adjective bon(us) “good” and Medieval Latin (mal)acia “calm sea,” from Greek malakía “softness.” Bonanza, with a transferred sense “rich vein of ore,” was first applied to the gold mines of Placer County, California (1844), and the silver mines of the Comstock Lode, Nevada (1859).

how is bonanza used?

After Stevie Wonder appeared in a segment, one of his greatest-hits albums jumped to the top of the U.K. iTunes charts, turning “Carpool Karaoke” into a promotional bonanza.

Michael Schulman, "James Cordon's Do-Over," The New Yorker, January 27, 2020

Over the next three weeks they picked up four new clients, a bonanza by Harvey’s standards.

Jonathan Dee, A Thousand Pardons, 2013

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Friday, July 31, 2020

obfuscate

[ ob-fuh-skeyt, ob-fuhs-keyt ]

verb (used with object)

to make obscure or unclear: to obfuscate a problem with extraneous information.

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What is the origin of obfuscate?

The verb obfuscate comes from Late Latin (especially Christian Latin) offuscāt(us), also obfuscāt(us), the past participle of offuscāre (obfuscāre), literally “to darken, obscure.” Offuscāre is a compound of the preposition and prefix ob, of– “toward, against,” also used as an intensive prefix, as here, and the verb fuscāre “to make dark, become dark.” The Latin root word is the adjective fuscus “dark, somber, dim, drab.” Fuscus is possibly related to Old English dox, dosc “dark,” source of the English noun and adjective dusk. Obfuscate entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is obfuscate used?

Of course all this talk of carbon emissions obfuscates the other significant dangers associated with the nuclear cycle.

Mark Dowie, "Nuclear Caribou," Orion, January/February 2009

But it will take moral clarity, which will require both editors and reporters to stop doing things like reflexively hiding behind euphemisms that obfuscate the truth, simply because we’ve always done it that way.

Wesley Lowery, "A Reckoning Over Objectivity, Led by Black Journalists," New York Times, June 23, 2020

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

evanescent

[ ev-uh-nes-uhnt ]

adjective

vanishing; fading away; fleeting.

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What is the origin of evanescent?

The adjective evanescent, “vanishing, fading,” comes via the French adjective évanescent, from Latin ēvānēscēns (inflectional stem ēvānēscent-), the present participle of the verb ēvānēscere “to disappear, vanish, fade away,” whose root word is the adjective vānus “empty, hollow, illusory,” source of English vain (via Old French). Ēvānēscere is a compound of the preposition and prefix ex-, ē- “out, out of, utterly, completely” and the verb vānēscere “to melt into nothing, vanish.” Ēvānēscere becomes esvanir, evanir in Old French, with a present stem esvaniss-, evaniss-, the source of Middle English vanis(s)hen, “to disappear, disappear suddenly,” English vanish. Evanescent entered English in the early 18th century.

how is evanescent used?

Readers, after enjoying a book, are desperate not to let go of the characters, the evanescent feeling of being in the text.

Deirdre Foley Mendelssohn, "Bottling the Book," The New Yorker, July 15, 2010

The pantomime of head-butting and jabbing, with moments when his whole body crumples as if in grief, lasts mere seconds. Every gesture is sharp but evanescent, vanishing as quickly as it takes shape.

Sarah L. Kaufman, "In pain and rage, a protester approached police. And then he danced," Washington Post, June, 6, 2020

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