Word of the Day

Friday, April 17, 2020

breviloquent

[ bre-vil-uh-kwuhnt ]

adjective

speaking or expressed in a concise or terse style; using brevity of speech.

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What is the origin of breviloquent?

Breviloquent means “speaking in a concise style.” Breviloquent comes from the Latin adjective breviloquēns (inflectional stem breviloquent-), a compound of brevis “short” (inflectional stem brevi-) and loquēns, present participle of loquī “to speak.” Breviloquentia, “brevity of speech,” the noun derivative of breviloquēns, occurs only once—one time!—in all of Latin literature, in a private letter that Cicero wrote to his close childhood friend, Titus Pomponius Atticus. Breviloquent entered English in the 19th century.

how is breviloquent used?

On the contrary, nothing is more remarkable in the Paston correspondence than the extreme and business-like shortness of most of them. They seem to anticipate the breviloquent era of Sir Rowland Hill. 

Herman Merivale, "Are the 'Paston Letters' Authentic?" The Fortnightly, Vol. 2, 1865

Soft-spoken and breviloquent, Nokie Edwards’ gentle manner is contradicted by the quick, clean guitar licks that make him famous as a former member of surf-instro band The Ventures.

Laurie Heuston, "Nokie Edwards and The HitchHiker Band," Mail Tribune, January 20, 2017

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Thursday, April 16, 2020

panacea

[ pan-uh-see-uh ]

noun

an answer or solution for all problems or difficulties: His economic philosophy is a good one, but he tries to use it as a panacea.

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What is the origin of panacea?

Panacea comes from Latin panacēa, which had the same meanings of the Greek original, panákeia “universal remedy; the name of a healing plant and its juice.” Panákeia is a compound of the Greek combining form pan– “all,” completely naturalized in English, and the adjective suffix –akḗs “healing,” a derivative ákos “cure, remedy.” The Greeks had a genius for personification, making, for instance, the common noun peithṓ “persuasion” into the goddess Peithṓ. So, too, with hygíeia “healthy state, good health” becoming the goddess Hygíeia, and panákeia, the goddess Panákeia. In fact the first sentence of the Hippocratic Oath (originally dating between the 5th and 3rd centuries b.c.) begins, “I swear by Apollo the physician and Asclepius and Hygeia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses….” Panacea entered English in the mid-16th century.

how is panacea used?

That could help provide a financial lifeline for the difficult weeks ahead — but it isn’t a panacea ….

Ann Carrns, "How to Build an Emergency Fund in the Middle of an Emergency," New York Times, March 20, 2020

The panacea of a world state, on the contrary, is doomed to bitter disappointment. A political unification of the nations of the world is impossible while political questions divide mankind.

Ellery C. Stowell, "A League of Nations," The Nation, Vol. 103, December 7, 1916

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

taxonomy

[ tak-son-uh-mee ]

noun

a classification into ordered categories: a proposed taxonomy of educational objectives.

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What is the origin of taxonomy?

The English noun taxonomy, “classification into ordered categories,” comes from French taxonomie, an irregular formation from the Greek noun táxis “military formation by rank and file,” and the Greek combining form –nomía, a derivative of nómos “law.” A note on the spelling: the original Greek noun táxis is an “i-stem,” and its connecting vowel is –i-; the etymologically correct form is taxinomy. The noun táxos, “yew, yew tree,” has the connecting vowel –o-; taxonomy “properly” means “classification of yew trees.” Taxonomy entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is taxonomy used?

Warhol was the little match girl peering in at high society, wondering what a rich collector or a countess was like and creating a taxonomy of it.

Thomas Sokolowski, quoted in "Picasso: Love Him? Hate Him? A Bit of Both?" Robert Atkins, New York Times, April 28, 1996

How long has our current taxonomy of Red State vs. Blue State been part of our political vernacular?

Christopher Briem, "The map is back!" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 5, 2013

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taxonomy

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

idoneous

[ ahy-doh-nee-uhs ]

adjective

appropriate; fit; suitable; apt.

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What is the origin of idoneous?

The adjective idoneous, “suitable, fit,” is now rare and archaic. It comes straight from Latin idōneous “suitable, appropriate, qualified, able”; it has no reliable Latin etymology. Idoneous has an even rarer derivative noun, idoneousness “fitness, suitability.”  Idoneous entered English in the first half of the 17th century; idoneousness is first recorded in English in the first half of the 18th century and was last recorded just over a century later, in the mid-19th.

how is idoneous used?

As far as benefices are concerned no one could be more idoneous, fitting or suitable than Martin, since he is an Anglican clergyman.

Patrick O'Brian, The Truelove, 1992

What is idoneous cannot be always or necessarily known in advance. 

Aseem Inam, Planning for the Unplanned: Recovering from Crises in Megacities, 2005

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idoneous

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Monday, April 13, 2020

quidnunc

[ kwid-nuhngk ]

noun

a person who is eager to know the latest news and gossip; a gossip or busybody.

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What is the origin of quidnunc?

Quidnunc comes from Latin quid nunc “what now?”  Readers of the Roman poet Horace might recognize quidnunc as a quote from one of his humorous and elegant Epistles: “Albius, frank judge of my Epistles, / What now shall I say you are doing …?” Horace’s two lines are a trope for someone who wants to hear all the latest gossip, like Horace, the second person narrator in his Epistle. Quidnunc entered English in the early 18th century.

how is quidnunc used?

It’s hard enough to get on with one’s life without the tittle-tattle of a quidnunc spotlighting your weaknesses.

James Tate, "Friends," Dreams of a Robot Dancing Bee, 2002

It is a restaurant with a loyal clientele and, as a quidnunc might put it, a place whose fame has been hushed about for seven years.

Craig Claiborne, "Restaurant on Review: Chinese Fare," New York Times, July 14, 1961

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Sunday, April 12, 2020

daffadowndilly

[ daf-uh-doun-dil-ee ]

noun

Chiefly British Dialect.

a daffodil.

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What is the origin of daffadowndilly?

Daffodil has given rise to many, many playful, fanciful variations: daffadowndilly, daffadoondilly, daffadilly, daffodilly, daffydowndilly. The Middle English word is affodil (also affadil and affedil) “asphodel,” the name of several plants, including the daffodil. Affodil comes from French affadille and Medieval Latin affodillus (also asfodillus), from Latin asphodelus, from Greek asphódelos “asphodel.” Spellings with and without initial d– have always existed side-by-side in English, but the initial d– in daffadowndilly (and daffodil) has never been satisfactorily explained. Daffadowndilly entered English in the 16th century.

how is daffadowndilly used?

With your kirtle of green and your gay yellow gown, Daffadowndilly.

Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler, "Daffadowndilly," Love's Argument and Other Poems, 1905

Growing in the vale / By the uplands hilly, / Growing straight and frail, / Lady Daffadowndilly.

Christina Rossetti, "Growing in the Vale," Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book, 1872

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Saturday, April 11, 2020

cosset

[ kos-it ]

verb (used with object)

to treat as a pet; pamper; coddle.

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What is the origin of cosset?

The verb cosset “to treat as a pet, pamper, coddle” is a derivative verb use of the noun cosset “a lamb raised as a pet.” The noun cosset has no certain etymology, but it has been suggested that it comes from Middle English cot-sēte “cottage dweller, cottager,” from Old English cot-sǣta. Cot-sēte, a rare enough word, is last recorded about 1400. Modern cosset (in the sense “pet lamb”) first appears in English in The Shepheardes Calender (1579) by Edmund Spenser, who uses words and spellings that were already archaic in his time.

how is cosset used?

It occurred to me, as I took my bag over, that it might be airline policy to comfort those who were going home for reasons such as mine with an upgrade, to cosset them through the night with quiet sympathy and an extra blanket or something.

Colm Tóibín, "One Minus One," The New Yorker, April 30, 2007

We cosset and succor its every sniffle with enormous devotion, even as we more or less ignore the increasingly urgent fever that the globe is now running.

Bill McKibben, "Money? Happiness. QED." Mother Jones, March–April 2007

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