Word of the Day

Monday, April 05, 2021

bricolage

[ bree-kuh-lahzh, brik-uh- ]

noun

a construction made of whatever materials are at hand; something created from a variety of available things.

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What is the origin of bricolage?

The noun bricolage in French means “do it yourself,” formed from the verb bricoler “to do odd jobs, do small chores; make improvised repairs,” from Middle French bricoler “to zigzag, bounce off,” ultimately a derivative of the Old French noun bricole “a trifle.” The French suffix –age, completely naturalized in English –age, as in carriage, marriage, passage, voyage, comes from –āticum, a noun suffix from the neuter of the Latin adjective suffix –āticus. Bricolage entered English in the second half of the 20th century.

how is bricolage used?

Indeed, if we scratch beneath the surface, English is a veritable bricolage of these ‘borrowed’ words.

Tim Lomas, "The Magic of 'Untranslatable' Words," Scientific American, July 12, 2016

So, for now, with my basket in one hand and my daughter’s little palm in the other, we’ll continue to walk the world in search of people, spaces and moments that move our soul and gather them into a living piece of art, a bricolage of memories called home.

Stevie Trujillo, "The Wager of Raising a Child Abroad," New York Times, February 16, 2018

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Sunday, April 04, 2021

leporine

[ lep-uh-rahyn, -rin ]

adjective

of, relating to, or resembling a rabbit or hare.

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What is the origin of leporine?

Leporine, “pertaining to or resembling a rabbit or hare,” a technical term in zoology, comes straight from the Latin adjective leporīnus, a derivative of the noun lepus (inflectional stem lepor-) “hare.” The etymology of lepus is obscure, but it may be related to Greek dialect léporis (Sicily) and lebērís (Marseille). Leporine entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is leporine used?

Of course, the Easter Bunny isn’t our only leporine hero. There is a general fascination with hares, bunnies, and rabbits in children’s literature and other aspects of popular and folk culture around the world.

Ellen C. Caldwell, "The Easter Bunny, or, Why We Love Rabbits," JSTOR Daily, March 25, 2016

His face looked naked, his teeth big and leporine.

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, 2013

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Saturday, April 03, 2021

cackleberry

[ kak-uhl-ber-ee ]

noun

a hen's egg used for food.

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What is the origin of cackleberry?

Cackleberry, “an egg, a hen’s egg,” is a piece of facetious American slang. The word is a compound of the verb cackle “to utter a shrill, broken cry such as a hen makes” and the common noun berry “small fruit without a pit,” also used often in compounds such as strawberry or gooseberry.

how is cackleberry used?

Cackleberries,” said Gately, picking up one of the eggs and examining it as though it were an emerald. “A genuine cackleberry.”

Beirne Lay, Jr. and Sy Bartlett, Twelve O'Clock High! 1948

Klock had played swell ball all week, scampering around station one like a hare—the March variety, of course—but he wasn’t hitting hard enough to imperil the shell of a cackleberry.

James W. Egan, "Cuckoo Klock," Munsey's Magazine, Vol. 73, June to September, 1921

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cackleberry

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