Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

butyraceous

[ byoo-tuh-rey-shuhs ]

adjective

of the nature of, resembling, or containing butter.

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What is the origin of butyraceous?

The adjective butyraceous is an expensive word for buttery. Butyraceous comes from Latin butyrum (both the first u and the y may be long or short), from Greek boútȳron “butter,” literally “cow cheese,” according to the traditional (and ancient) etymology, from Greek boûs (inflectional stem boo-, bou-) “cow” and tȳrós “cheese.” Both boûs and tȳrós are very ancient: both occur on Late Bronze Age Linear B clay tablets from Pylos (in the southwest Peloponnesus), and both words are of Proto-Indo-European origin. The closest non-Greek relative to tȳrós is in the ancient Iranian languages: in Avestan (the language of the Zoroastrian scriptures), tūiri– means “whey, cheeselike milk” and tūiriia– means “curdled (milk).” Herodotus states that butter was used by the Scythians, ancient Iranian nomads of the Russian steppes. Latin butyrum (with its variant būtūrum) becomes burre in Old French (beurre in French) and burro in Italian. Latin butyrum was borrowed by the West Germanic languages (as usual, the details and date of the borrowing are disputed): Old English has butere (English butter); German has Butter, Dutch boter. Butyraceous entered English in the 17th century.

how is butyraceous used?

All good butter seems to have disappeared as if by magic, and there remains only a butyraceous compound of hair, butter, chips and rock salt, which is as striped as a zebra and smells as rancid as a goat or a bundle of foul linens.

"Local News: Butter, " Dubuque Herald, October 24, 1860

fine food, lots of the best wine, had given his jowls a butyraceous sheen.

Ken Bruen, Purgatory, 2013

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Word of the day

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

caducous

[ kuh-doo-kuhs, -dyoo- ]

adjective

dropping off very early, as leaves.

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What is the origin of caducous?

The adjective caducous “(of leaves) falling early or too early” comes straight from Latin cadūcus “tending to fall, tottery, unsteady; transitory,” a derivative of the verb cadere “to fall, fall over, collapse.” Cadere is also the source of the Latin compound verb dēcidere “to fall down, fall over,” which forms the derivative adjective dēciduus “falling, tending to fall or be dropped” (English deciduous). The botanical difference between caducous and deciduous is that caducous leaves fall too easily or too early, and deciduous leaves fall at the end of the growing season. Caducous entered English in the 18th century.

how is caducous used?

After the flowering period, the ground under the oak, poplar, and other trees, is strewn with their male catkins; these are caducous, falling off soon after they have shed their pollen …

Alex S. Wilson, "Wind Fertilized Flowers," Scientific American, October 12, 1895

So is it with this calamity: it does not touch me: something which I fancied was a part of me, which could not be torn away without tearing me, nor enlarged without enriching me, falls off from me, and leaves no scar. It was caducous.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Experience," Essays: Second Series, 1844

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Word of the day

Monday, September 21, 2020

yare

[ yair or yahr ]

adjective

quick; agile; lively.

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What is the origin of yare?

Yare is an uncommon adjective meaning “ready, prepared.” As is usual for short words, Middle English shows more than two dozen spellings; Old English is more restrained, gearu and gearo being the most common (before the inflections are added). The Old English forms derive from the verb gearwian “to prepare, equip.” Gearwian is the Old English development of the Germanic verb garwian “to prepare, equip, make.” The noun garwi– “equipment, adornment,” a derivative of garwian, is the source for the Old Norse noun gervi, gørvi “apparel, equipment,” source of English gear. The English noun garb comes via Middle French garbe “grace, graceful figure, elegance,” from Italian garbo “form, grace, elegance (of dress),” a derivative of the verb garbare “to be pleasant,” from Old High German garawi “dress, equipment,” ultimately from Germanic garwian.

how is yare used?

dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation; for thy assailant is quick, skilfull, and deadly.

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, 1623

Bear up, gentle laddie, for we must be yare, Or of Bruin the bear else we may be ware.

Frank Horridge, "The Baron of Egisheim," Ballades of Olde France, Alsace, and Olde Holland, 1919

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