Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

camion

[ kam-ee-uhn ]

noun

a truck, as for military supplies.

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What is the origin of camion?

Camion is a borrowing from French, but its ultimate origin is obscure. Hypotheses include a connection to Late Latin chamulcus “chariot, cart, machine” (from Ancient Greek) or to French chemin “way” (via Vulgar Latin cammīnus from Gaulish). While we normally associate Celtic languages with the British Isles, Gaulish is a long-extinct Celtic language once spoken in what is now France that proved heavily influential to Late Latin and Vulgar Latin, the ancestor of all Romance languages. Camion entered English in the late 1800s.

how is camion used?

When the police inspector approached the camion, he accused the driver of off-loading the extra passengers who were now walking ahead of the camion. But the driver vehemently denied the allegation, and the subinspector, who could see the passengers walking ahead but had not seen them getting off the camion, could not technically substantiate the accusation that they had been off-loaded from the camion.

Suresh Kanekar, Of Mangoes and Monsoons, 2009

There was space left about big enough for a baby carriage to squeeze by, and “dauntless Harry,” seeing an opening, tried to see if his truck would fit said opening. It didn’t, and the first thing we knew the camion had crashed through the railing and the front wheels were dangling in space. The drop wasn’t a great distance, but if we had taken the fall no doubt we would have been found with the camion resting on the back of our necks.

Kirkland Hart Day, Camion Cartoons, 1919

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Word of the day

Monday, September 13, 2021

testudinate

[ te-stood-n-it, -eyt, -styood- ]

adjective

formed like the carapace of a tortoise; arched; vaulted.

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What is the origin of testudinate?

Testudinate derives from the Latin adjective testūdinātus, of the same meaning, from the noun testūdō “tortoise.” Testūdō, in turn, derives from testa “earthenware vessel; shard of baked clay; shell of a crustacean.” It is possible that testa comes from the Proto-Indo-European root ters- “dry,” which would make testa cognate to the words thirst (from Old English thurst “dryness”), terrain and terrestrial (from Latin terra “(dry) land”), and toast and torrid (from Latin torrēre “to burn”). In Late Latin, testa gained the additional sense of “skull” and developed into the word for “head” in several Romance languages (such as French tête and Italian testa). Testudinate entered English in the early 1700s.

how is testudinate used?

[A]t Marzabotto, a working-class Etruscan town in what is now the province of Bologna … the houses are of good size, but not palaces, and seemed stamped out as if from a cookie-cutter, with slight variations .… Each house was almost 800 square meters in size and featured an atrium that was likely testudinate or fully roofed over so that the beams rested directly onto the walls and there were no interior columns.

Claudio Bizzarri and David Soren, "Innovations and Legacy to Rome," A Companion to the Etruscans, 2016

At every little clearing through the thorny path great horseflies flew Like aces taking bits and bites of me as I futilely swiped Then low tunnels testudinate respite from those winged furies gave Only to find that those ruelles I tread were rife with walking shells

Ken Gremillion, The Velocity of Falling Bodies, 2007

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Word of the day

Sunday, September 12, 2021

spelunk

[ spi-luhngk ]

verb (used without object)

to explore caves, especially as a hobby.

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What is the origin of spelunk?

Spelunk comes via Latin spēlunca from Ancient Greek spêlunx, one of several similar words for “cave” (along with spéos and spḗlaion) a term that is likely of Pre-Greek origin. While Ancient Greek is an Indo-European language and inherits its grammar and most of its vocabulary from Proto-Indo-European, Ancient Greek contains over a hundred words and names that linguists hypothesize to have once been loanwords from a pre-Greek substrate, a lost language spoken in the Aegean Sea prior to the arrival of the Greeks that influenced the development of Ancient Greek. Spelunk first entered English in the 20th century.

how is spelunk used?

Confined to a narrow metal walkway … and limited to using nonprofessional cameras, Herzog and a few scientists cheerfully spelunk through the Stone Age. While the geologists marvel at the rocks and the historians assess cave-bear footprints and abandoned skulls, Herzog’s steady stream of typically bizarre observations ensure that the claustrophobia and gloominess don’t send us to sleep.

Jeannette Catsoulis, “Werner Herzog, Plumbing Time And ‘Dreams,’” NPR, April 28, 2011

On the Travel Channel, we spelunk the caverns of Callao, explore the garish catacombs of the Great Barrier Reef, learn about the medicinal benefits of turmeric.

Jonathan Evison, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, 2012

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