Word of the Day

Sunday, May 19, 2019

buckram

[ buhk-ruhm ]

noun

stiffness of manner; extreme preciseness or formality.

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What is the origin of buckram?

The noun buckram has gone through many meanings. In the 13th century it referred to a kind of fine linen or cotton cloth, as for ecclesiastic vestments. In the 15th century buckram referred to a thick, coarse linen or cotton cloth sized with glue or paste, as for stiffening clothing or binding books. By the second half of the 17th century, buckram extended the 15th-century meaning to “stiffness of manner, extreme formality.” The etymology of buckram is obscure: some authorities suggest that the word ultimately comes from Bukhara, Uzbekistan, which manufactured and exported the fine cloth. Buckram entered English in the 13th century.

how is buckram used?

You think you are doing mighty well with them; that you are laying aside the buckram of pedantry and pretence, and getting the character of a plain, unassuming, good sort of fellow.

William Hazlitt, "On the Disadvantages of Intellectual Superiority," Table-Talk, Vol. 2, 1822

I had moments when I thought of him as of a man of pasteboard—as though, if one should strike smartly through the buckram of his countenance, there would be found a mere vacuity within.

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Master of Ballantrae, 1889
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Saturday, May 18, 2019

jockey

[ jok-ee ]

verb (used with object)

to manipulate cleverly or trickily: He jockeyed himself into office.

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What is the origin of jockey?

The verb jockey in its extended sense “to manipulate cleverly or trickily” comes from a noun sense “crafty bargainer, cheater,” from a still earlier sense “horse trader, horse dealer” (as if horse traders were untrustworthy). Jockey in its noun sense “a professional rider in horse races” entered English in the late 17th century.

how is jockey used?

The doctor watched him with interest, wondering … whether Tom Craik, to use his own words, would jockey the undertaker, as he had jockeyed many another adversary in his stirring existence.

F. Marion Crawford, The Three Fates, 1892

Even before the results were released, there was discussion in some quarters over whether to request a recount as small right-wing factions jockeyed to get into the parliament, called the Knesset.

Loveday Morris, "Netanyahu extends lead slightly in final election count," Washington Post, April 11, 2019
Friday, May 17, 2019

alameda

[ al-uh-mey-duh ]

noun

a public walk shaded with trees.

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What is the origin of alameda?

It is hard to imagine a lovelier-sounding word than alameda. It is not a word in general American usage, but a regionalism in the American Southwest, a common noun meaning “a tree-shaded public walk.” Alameda comes directly from Spanish alameda “poplar grove,” formed from the noun álamo “poplar” (a noun of unknown etymology) and the noun suffix –eda, which regularly derives from the Latin noun suffix –ētum, denoting a place where plants are grown, e.g., arborētum “a place where trees are grown.” The placename and proper noun Alameda, a city in California east of San Francisco across the San Francisco Bay, was so named not by Spaniards or Mexicans, but by American settlers in a popular vote in 1853. Alameda entered English in the 18th century.

how is alameda used?

The ascent to it is by an alameda or public walk, which was formerly beautifully planted, but the trees were cut down during the revolutionary contest.

Josiah Conder, The Modern Traveller: Colombia, 1825

At the foot of the hill is an alameda, or public walk, which, though not so fashionable as the more modern and splendid paseo of the Xenil, still boasts a varied and picturesque concourse.

Washington Irving, The Alhambra, 1832
Thursday, May 16, 2019

whataboutism

[ hwuht-uh-bou-tiz-uhm, wuht‐, hwot‐, wot‐ ]

noun

a conversational tactic in which a person responds to an argument or attack by changing the subject to focus on someone else’s misconduct, implying that all criticism is invalid because no one is completely blameless: Excusing your mistakes with whataboutism is not the same as defending your record.

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What is the origin of whataboutism?

Whataboutism is a transparent formation of the phrase “What about…?” used to form objections in an argument, and the noun suffix –ism. Whataboutism entered English in the second half of the 20th century.

how is whataboutism used?

Whataboutism appears to broaden context, to offer a counterpoint, when really it’s diverting blame, muddying the waters and confusing … rational listeners.

Dan Zak, "Whataboutism: The Cold War tactic, thawed by Putin, is brandished by Donald Trump," Washington Post, August 18, 2017

The best response to whataboutism has historically been to say that while, yes, other countries have their faults, injustice should not be tolerated anywhere.

Olga Khazan, "The Soviet-Era Strategy That Explains What Russia Is Doing With Snowden," The Atlantic, August 2, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

consent

[ kuhn-sent ]

verb

to permit, approve, or agree.

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What is the origin of consent?

In English, the verb sense of consent is recorded considerably earlier than the noun. Consent ultimately derives from the Latin verb consentīre “to share or join in a sensation or feeling, be in unison or harmony.” Consentīre is a compound of the Latin prefix con-, a variant of com– “together, with.” The Latin verb sentīre has many meanings: “to perceive by any of the senses, feel, be aware of, recognize, discern, hold an opinion, think, cast a vote, give a verdict.” The many English derivatives of the Latin verb include assent, consent, resent, sense, sentence, sentient, and sentiment. The verb senses of consent entered English in the 13th century, the noun in the second half of the 14th.

how is consent used?

Before you even put your cookie on my computer, or in my mobile device, you have to make sure I consent to being followed ….

Rayna Stamboliyska, as quoted in "Europe's New Online Privacy Rules Could Protect U.S. Users Too," NPR; All Tech Considered, April 16, 2018

If she consents to assist the experiment, she consents of her own free will ….

Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone, 1868
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

expatiate

[ ik-spey-shee-eyt ]

verb

to move or wander about intellectually, imaginatively, etc., without restraint.

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What is the origin of expatiate?

The English verb expatiate comes from Latin expatiātus, exspatiātus, past participle of expatiārī, exspatiārī “to move, run, or flow away beyond bounds, spread out,” a compound of the prefix ex– “out of, throughout” and the verb spatiārī “to walk about leisurely, stroll” (and the source of German spazieren “to take a walk, stroll”). Spatiārī is a derivative of the noun spatium “expanse of ground, area, space, racetrack, playing field, act (of a play).” Expatiate entered English in the 16th century.

how is expatiate used?

… at every step of this mental process, sufficient time must be allowed for the imagination to expatiate on the objects before it, till the ideas approximate, as near as possible, to the reality.

"Illustrations of the Omnipotence of the Deity," The Calvinistic Magazine, Vol. 5, July 1831

He was troubled too about his love, though when he allowed his mind to expatiate on the success of the great railway he would venture to hope that on that side his life might perhaps be blessed.

Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now, 1875
Monday, May 13, 2019

JOMO

[ joh-moh ]

noun

Slang.

a feeling of contentment with one’s own pursuits and activities, without worrying over the possibility of missing out on what others may be doing.

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What is the origin of JOMO?

JOMO, the acronym for “the joy of missing out,” and its opposite, FOMO “the fear of missing out,” both entered English around the same time, in the early years of the 21st century.

how is JOMO used?

Don’t think of JOMO as a detox, but more like an integral part to a healthy, well-balanced nutrition plan for your brain.

Hayley Phelan, "How to Make This the Summer of Missing Out," New York Times, July 12, 2018

JOMO allows us to live life in the slow lane, to appreciate human connections, to be intentional with our time, to practice saying “no” ….

Kristen Fuller, "JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out," Psychology Today, July 26, 2018

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