Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, February 04, 2018

byzantine

[ biz-uh n-teen, -tahyn, bahy-zuh n-, bih-zan-tin ]

adjective

complex or intricate: a deal requiring Byzantine financing.

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What is the origin of byzantine?

The English adjective Byzantine originally applied to the city of Byzantium (later Constantinople) and the art, architecture, and history of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire. The most common current sense “complex, intricate” dates from the first half of the 20th century. Byzantine entered English in the 18th century.

how is byzantine used?

“We’ve had the process referred to as byzantine, shrouded in secrecy, opaque. Yet this is the process that Congress designed, a process that not only demands confidentiality, but strict confidentiality. This is the system we’re tasked to administer,” Grundmann said.

Joe Davidson, "Hill's workplace rights agency points to Congress for lack of transparency," Washington Post, December 1, 2017

Over the course of two hundred pages I had improvised a byzantine system involving highlighter, underlines, and marginal punctuation marks.

Tom Perrotta, Joe College, 2000
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Word of the day

Saturday, February 03, 2018

moxie

[ mok-see ]

noun

Slang. courage; nerve; determination.

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What is the origin of moxie?

Moxie originally was the trademark of a carbonated soft drink that was created by Dr. Augustin Thompson, a homeopathic physician who was born in Maine and spent his professional life in Massachusetts. Dr. Thompson patented his beverage in 1885 and promoted it as a “nerve tonic” or “nerve food.” Moxie, the drink, has always been associated with New England: Calvin Coolidge liked it; Ted Williams endorsed it on the radio; the state of Maine made Moxie its official soft drink in 2005. Moxie’s lowercase sense “courage, spirit, vigor” entered English in the 20th century.

how is moxie used?

“The only safe thing is to take a chance,” she told Nichols, who was both amazed at her moxie and inspired by her trust in him.

, "Sweet and Sour," The New Yorker, June 13, 2005

He’s not a natural singer … but like the kid in the school play who sells the thing by sheer force of moxie, Crowe handily wins us over.

Richard Lawson, "'Les Miserables': Destroying Cynicism with Song," The Atlantic, December 17, 2012

Word of the day

Friday, February 02, 2018

oblivescence

[ ob-luh-ves-uh ns ]

noun

the process of forgetting.

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What is the origin of oblivescence?

Oblivescence dates from the late 19th century and is a later spelling of obliviscence, which dates from the late 18th century. The spelling oblivescence arose by influence of the far more common suffix -escence. The English noun is a derivative of the Latin verb oblīviscī “to forget,” literally “to wipe away, smooth over.” The Latin verb is composed of the prefix ob- “away, against” and the same root as the adjective lēvis “smooth.”

how is oblivescence used?

Would that our sins had built-in qualities of oblivescence such as our dreams have.

Iris Murdoch, A Word Child, 1975

Even in reasoning, the gratifying confirmatory instance sticks in the mind, while the negative cases all go glimmering into oblivescence.

H. L. Hollingworth, "The Oblivescence of the Disagreeable," The Journal of Philosophy Psychology and Scientific Methods, Volume VII, January–December 1910

Word of the day

Thursday, February 01, 2018

epistemic

[ ep-uh-stee-mik, -stem-ik ]

adjective

of or relating to knowledge or the conditions for acquiring it.

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What is the origin of epistemic?

The Greek noun epistḗmē “skill, knowledge, scientific knowledge, science” is a derivative of the verb epistánai “to know how (to do), believe (that), be acquainted with, know, know as a fact.” The verb is composed of the prefix epi- “on, over” and stánai “to stand.” Various languages use different prefixes plus the verb to stand to express intellectual comprehension: in Greek one “stands over”; in German verstehen means literally “stand before’”; and in English one “stands under.”

how is epistemic used?

Debates over epistemic principles sound abstract, but they have enormous practical repercussions. For instance, in order to decide policy matters (like what to put in our textbooks and what to teach in science classrooms) we need to decide on the facts.

Michael Lynch, "Defending Science: An Exchange," New York Times, March 11, 2012

The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening.

David Roberts, "America is facing an epistemic crisis," Vox, November 2, 2017

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