Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

busk

[ buhsk ]

verb (used without object)

to entertain by dancing, singing, reciting, juggling, etc., on the street or in a public place.

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What is the origin of busk?

Busk “to entertain on the street or in a public place” is of unclear origin, though there are multiple theories. One hypothesis is that busk is a borrowing from Polari, a type of English slang that developed in the 1700s. Polari was popular among theater workers, circus performers, sailors, and the gay community, and derived much of its vocabulary from Italian and other Romance languages. If busk was borrowed from Polari, it could derive from an Italian verb such as buscare “to procure, get, gain,” which itself was a borrowing from Spanish buscar “to look for, seek,” also of unclear origin. Busk was first recorded in English in the early 1850s.

how is busk used?

Before the jugglers, acrobats, and comedians hit the streets of the Scottish capital to busk at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, there’s morning coffee, a chat among colleagues, and the lottery. The three-week long Fringe welcomes street performers of every type and stripe to provide the raucous carnival atmosphere, from young men dressed as poppies to high-flying acrobats who have honed their skills for years.

Paul Casciato, “Busking is a lottery at Edinburgh Festival Fringe,” Reuters, August 9, 2009

Raised in California, Remi first got the music bug after she created a pre-teen girl group called Citrus with two of her friends, which went onto become a slightly more serious (and less fruit based) production during high school. “We would busk on the street, and I think that was the moment where I really started to think that I could do it as a career,” Remi recalls.

Elly Watson, "Wolf Like Her: Remi Wolf," DIY, October 15, 2021

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Monday, November 01, 2021

columbarium

[ kol-uhm-bair-ee-uhm ]

noun

a sepulchral vault or other structure with recesses in the walls to receive the ashes of the dead.

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What is the origin of columbarium?

Columbarium “a sepulchral vault with recesses in the walls for cremation urns” is a direct borrowing from Latin, in which the term means “a nesting box for pigeons” or, more simply, “a place for doves,” from columba “pigeon, dove” and the suffix -ārium, which denotes a location where something is stored or regularly found. A columbarium was originally an oversized birdhouse containing small alcoves in which pigeons could build their nests. From there, while the name and general shape was kept, a columbarium became a place in which the alcoves could house cremation urns. While columba itself is of uncertain origin, it is the source of given names such as Callum and Malcolm (by way of Celtic languages); surnames such as Coleman, Colombo, and Colón; and geographic names such as Colombia and Columbia—both the Canadian province and the American district. Columbarium was first recorded in English in the 1840s.

how is columbarium used?

The remains of the dead are sent to be cremated and placed in multistory depositories, called columbaria, that look very much like the government apartment blocks where many of them had lived before their interludes underground .… In Hong Kong, where the waiting time for a niche in a columbarium can be five years or more, the government has been trying, with limited success, to persuade people to scatter ashes at sea.

Seth Mydans, “Moving the Dead to Make Room for the Living,” The New York Times, December 14, 2009

Out in Odd Fellows’ Cemetery stands the largest, the best, the most original, and most beautiful columbarium in the whole world …. Mr. Cahill had seen the Old World columbaria, and they had not struck him as very agreeable places to be in …. The dead may be dead, but why should the living constantly be painfully reminded of it? Mr. Cahill proposed a cheerful columbarium! It was a startling move, but it struck the New World, Western fancy.

"A Cheerful Columbarium; San Francisco Claims to Have the Largest and Best in the World," San Francisco Examiner, October 15, 1899

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Sunday, October 31, 2021

grisly

[ griz-lee ]

adjective

causing a shudder or feeling of horror; horrible; gruesome.

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What is the origin of grisly?

Grisly “causing a shudder or feeling of horror” is of Germanic origin, from Old English grislīc “horrible.” A widespread assumption is that grisly is related to grizzly or to French gris “gray,” but for the second time this week, we have a common misconception on our hands. Grizzly and gris are in fact related to one another but not to grisly; grizzly is a derivative of gris, which is a borrowing from Frankish, if not another Germanic source, that was also borrowed into Italian as grigio, as in the white wine Pinot Grigio, which is made from grapes with grayish-blue skin. Gris is not, in fact, likely related to English gray, which derives from a similar-sounding yet distinct root with the same meaning. Grisly was first recorded in English before the 12th century.

how is grisly used?

Any insect unlucky enough to land on the mouth-like leaves of an Australian pitcher plant will meet a grisly end. The plant’s prey is drawn into a vessel-like ‘pitcher’ organ where a specialized cocktail of enzymes digests the victim.

Ewen Callaway and Nature magazine, “How Plants Evolved into Carnivores,” Scientific American , February 6, 2017

If I’m murdered as part of a grisly conspiracy that demands a ten-part true-crime podcast, don’t let them advertise underwear on it. If a secret will appears after my demise, ignore it. I’m leaving everything to the dog.

Ryan Chapman, "My Murder Mystery," The New Yorker, July 15, 2021

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