Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, July 23, 2021

brouhaha

[ broo-hah-hah, broo-hah-hah, broo-hah-hah ]

noun

excited public interest, discussion, or the like, as the clamor attending some sensational event.

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What is the origin of brouhaha?

Brouhaha, “excited public interest; the clamor attending some sensational event,” comes from Medieval French brou, ha, ha, an exclamation used by characters representing the devil in 16th-century drama. Beyond that everything else is speculation. The most interesting explanation is that brou, ha, ha is a distortion of the Hebrew sentence bārūkh habbā (beshēm ădōnai) “Blessed is he who comes (in the name of the Lord)” (Psalms 118:26). Brouhaha entered English in the late 19th century.

how is brouhaha used?

“[Guy] Zinn was not a significant player. The card, and the brouhaha surrounding it, is more interesting than the man,” said John Thorn, the official historian for Major League Baseball.

Ben Berkon, "A Jewish Player's 1914 Baseball Card Triggers a $125,000 Dispute," New York Times, December 18, 2016

As always, her major concern was to live the life given to her, and her children were expected to do the same. And to do it without too much brouhaha.

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1969

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Word of the day

Thursday, July 22, 2021

furphy

[ fur-fee ]

noun

a false report; rumor.

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What is the origin of furphy?

Furphy, a piece of Australian slang meaning “a false report; rumor,” originated in the early days of World War I and derives from the Furphy carts used to haul water and rubbish for the Australian army. The carts, made of galvanized iron drums mounted on wheels and originally used for hauling water on farms, were invented and manufactured by J. Furphy & Sons in Shepparton, in the state of Victoria. Soldiers gathering around a Furphy cart, like office workers around the water cooler, would hear and spread all the rumors they could absorb, and the drivers of the Furphy carts could then spread rumors among different units. Furphy first appears in print in 1915 in a poem by the English poet Robert Graves entitled On Gallipoli: “To cheer us then a ‘furphy’ passed around… They’re fighting now on Achi Baba’s mound.” Scuttlebutt, “an open cask containing drinking water,” shows a parallel development among American sailors, the scuttlebutt originally being the place where one could get a drink of water, becoming by 1901 “rumor, gossip.”

how is furphy used?

Granted, they’re judged by panels, rather than lone individuals. But the idea that panels make better decisions than individuals is a furphy.

David Free, "Judge a literary prize? No thanks, they're all a giant waste of time," WA Today, July 9, 2021

Some tourism figures in Queensland fear an “in danger” listing will be more bad news that could discourage international visitors from travelling once borders reopen.

“I really think that’s a furphy,” says Dr Jon Day, a former Australian government representative on the world heritage committee and a veteran of the meetings.

Graham Readfearn, "Why Australia's Great Barrier Reef may end up on the world heritage 'in danger' list—and what it means," The Guardian, June 26, 2021

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Word of the day

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

verklempt

[ ver-klempt, vuh-, fer-, fuh- ]

adjective

overly emotional and unable to speak.

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What is the origin of verklempt?

Verklempt, “overcome with emotion and unable to speak,” is an American colloquialism from Yiddish verklempt, farklempt “overcome with emotion,” from German verklemmt “inhibited, uptight,” literally “pinched, squeezed,” the past participle of verklemmen “to become stuck.” Verklempt was popularized by the TV show Saturday Night Live in 1991.

how is verklempt used?

Listening to your story, I’m a little verklempt myself. Give me a second. Talk amongst yourselves (holds it all in). There I feel better.

Linda Richman (played by Mike Myers), "Coffee Talk," Saturday Night Live, October 12, 1991

“I’m so verklempt,” he says. “I need a hug.” She assumes he’s being sarcastic, but when she glances at him he’s teared up for real.

Curtis Sittenfeld, "The Prairie Wife," The New Yorker, February 5, 2017

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