Can Grammar Coach
The adjective brumal “wintry” ultimately comes from Latin brūmālis “pertaining to the winter solstice, or to the winter,” a derivative of the noun brūma “the day of the winter solstice, the position of the sun on the solstice, midwinter” (both the noun and the adjective are very restricted in their usage). Brūma comes from breuma, a contraction of brevi-ma “shortest” (Latin v is pronounced like English w). The ending –ma is an old superlative ending (usually replaced in Latin by –issima; brevissima is standard Latin). Brevi– is the inflectional stem of brevis “short, low, shallow, stunted,” and the source of English breve and brief. Brumal entered English in the first half of the 16th century.
Our motley platoon of snowmobiles was chewing up a rippled meadow high on the southwestern flanks of the Gore Range near Vail, Colo., four bundles of motorized mayhem zigzagging across a brumal landscape.
Operated under the Antarctic Treaty System, the South Pole is meant to be a brumal Eden of science, where research centers are freed from the political binds that exist in the world above.
a comfortable or cozy room.
Snuggery “a comfortable, cozy room” is a transparent derivative of the adjective snug “comfortably warm and cozy,” as in Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas (1823), “The children were nestled all snug in their beds, / While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.” The origin of snug is uncertain: it may be of Scandinavian origin, related to Old Norse snøggr “short, short-haired, sudden, brief,” Old Danish snøg, and Swedish snygg, both meaning “neat, trim, tidy.” Snuggery entered English in the first half of the 19th century.
On the top of the house was a snuggery, into which he retired when he wanted to be entirely alone, and this he called his Syracuse, or workshop.
No wonder, then, that Phra-Alack experienced an access of gratitude for the privilege of napping for two hours in a snuggery of sunshine.
Cordate, now used only in botany and biology in the meaning “heart-shaped,” comes from the Latin adjective cordātus “intelligent, sensible,” a derivative of the noun cor (inflectional stem cord-) “the heart” (the organ, also considered the seat of one’s conscience, will, and emotions). In English the senses “intelligent, prudent” became obsolete during the first half of the 18th century; Latin cordātus never had any biological senses. Cordate in the sense “intelligent, prudent” entered English in the mid-17th century; its modern sense in the second half of the 18th century.
He also wrote, at 15, his first poem after seeing a raindrop cause a cordate leaf to flutter.
Its leaves are variable in shape, as are those of most ivies, but generally cordate, or heart-shaped, and very dark green, larger than the Irish ivy, which is the ivy you see most often in Washington.
of or relating to alms, charity, or charitable donations; charitable.
Eleemosynary “relating to alms or almsgiving” comes from the Medieval Latin adjective eleēmosynārius, a derivative of the Late Latin noun eleēmosyna “alms,” used by Christian Latin authors (Tertullian, St. Augustine of Hippo). Latin eleēmosyna is a borrowing from Greek eleēmosýnē “pity, mercy, compassion” (and “alms” in the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate), a derivative of the adjective ele(e)inós “rousing compassion.” The Greek forms derive from the noun éleos “pity, compassion,” from which Greek forms the verb eleeîn “to pity, have pity on, feel pity for.” The second singular active aorist imperative, eléēson, as in the phrase from the Christian liturgy (in Latin transcription representing the Late Greek pronunciation) Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison “Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy” will be familiar to those who like to listen to or take part in musical settings of the Latin Mass. Eleemosynary entered English in the first half of the 17th century.
It would be fair enough to call Cornelia a power for good. I shared an apartment in New York with her the year before she was married, and I haven’t done so many eleemosynary acts in the whole rest of my life as I did during that time.
When a church collects money to then redistribute to the poor in its neighborhood, it performs an eleemosynary function.
seriousness or sobriety, as of conduct or speech.
Gravitas comes straight from the Latin noun gravitās, which has many meanings: “seriousness of conduct, temperament, or speech; solemnity or majesty (of a speaker or writer); authority, influence or importance (of a person or institution).” (The inflectional stem of gravitās is gravitāt-, which by regular phonetic change becomes gravité in French and gravity in English.) Gravitas became necessary in English because during the first half of the 17th century, gravity acquired its physical meanings “force of attraction, heaviness, gravitation,” and a sentence like “The Prime Minister displayed an unusual lack of gravity” would be unintentionally humorous today. Gravitas entered English in the 1920s.
Dad was gearing up to say something, a gradual process that involved shifting around in his chair, some throat-clearing, lifting his tea halfway to his mouth and putting it down again, so Paul and Grandma broke off their staring contest and waited for him to speak. Grief had lent him a certain gravitas.
… a growing number of independent research-oriented institutions like his own, Mr. Coogan said, have brought gravitas to a field that once seemed lighter than Spider-Man’s touch.
witty; brilliantly clever.
Scintillating “witty, brilliantly clever” ultimately derives from the Latin noun scintilla “glittering speck, spark.” Scintilla and its few derivatives refer generally only to physical phenomena; the only metaphorical sense that scintilla has is of eyes flashing in anger or passion, not the sense of sparkling or flashing wit. Scintilla comes from the Proto-Indo-European root skai– (and its variants) “to glow dully, reflect,” as in Greek skiā́ “shadow,” Gothic skeinan “to light, shine,” and Old English scīnan (English shine). Finally, Tocharian B skiyo “shadow, shade,” is exactly equivalent to Greek skiā́. Scintillating entered English in the second half of the 17th century in its literal sense; the sense “witty, clever” dates from the end of the 18th century.
Across the crowded living room, where all the clever, scintillating talk and noise of a cocktail party seem nervous and inane, a boy and a girl suddenly see each other.
What had once seemed perhaps a bit flat next to the scintillating wit and effervescent sparkle of our mother came to seem the most valuable quality in the world one person could give another, infinite patience and attention ….
verb (used without object)
to collapse or faint, as from surprise, excitement, or exhaustion.
Plotz “to collapse or faint, as from surprise, excitement, or exhaustion,” is one of those Yiddish words that make you smile just from its sound. Many Americans learned plotz in the early 1950s from Mad magazine (originally a comic book). Plotz is an American slang term that comes from Yiddish platsn “to crack, split, burst,” from Middle High German platzen “to burst.” Plotz entered English about 1920.
Simmel was worried about street lamps, murals, the occasional honk of a horn. Had he lived to see a smartphone, or modern Tokyo, he would have plotzed.
Make an effort to include your parents in this milestone, let them decide whether to take part somehow, and if they decline, then invite your mother-in-law to take a bigger role. If/when your mom plotzes … you can simply and kindly remind your mother that she was invited to take part and chose not to.