Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, July 06, 2018

campcraft

[ kamp-kraft, -krahft ]

noun

the art of outdoor camping.

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What is the origin of campcraft?

Campcraft is a straightforward compound noun. Camp ultimately derives from Latin campus “field, plain,” especially the Campus Martius “the field of Mars” (so called from the altar dedicated to Mars), which was originally pastureland between the Tiber River and the northwest boundary of Rome. The Campus Martius was used for recreation and exercise, various civilian meetings, and army musters and military exercises. Craft is a common Germanic word: cræft in Old English, Kraft in German, kraft in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. All of the Germanic languages except English have maintained the original meaning “strength, power”; only English has developed the sense “skill, skilled occupation.” Campcraft entered English in the 20th century.

how is campcraft used?

Daniel Boone, Kit Carson and the other old fellows we admire so much could never have lived a week in the wilderness had they not known all the ins and outs of campcraft–that is, the art of taking care of themselves in the wilderness and of making themselves as comfortable as conditions would permit under canvas or in the open.

Dillon Wallace, "How to Be a Good Camper," Boys' Life, July 1914

Inman squatted in the brush and watched the folks go about their campcraft.

Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain, 1997
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Word of the day

Thursday, July 05, 2018

debonair

[ deb-uh-nair ]

adjective

courteous, gracious, and having a sophisticated charm: a debonair gentleman.

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What is the origin of debonair?

The adjective debonair, from Old French debonaire, originated in Old French as the phrase de bon aire “of good lineage.” The aire of that phrase comes from the Latin noun ager “field,” which presumably meant “nest” in Vulgar Latin. Debonair entered English in the 13th century.

how is debonair used?

He was a tall, thin man, with gray hair swept back and a debonair ease of movement that suggested wealth, confidence, and success.

Jacqueline Winspear, Pardonable Lies, 2005

What could be simpler than to toddle down one flight of stairs and in an easy and debonair manner ask the chappie’s permission to use his telephone?

P. G. Wodehouse, Indiscretions of Archie, 1921

Word of the day

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

fizgig

[ fiz-gig ]

noun

a type of firework that makes a loud hissing sound.

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What is the origin of fizgig?

Fizgig has a very cloudy history. The first syllable, fiz (also fis), may derive from the Middle English noun fise or feist “a fart” (cf. fizzle), from the Proto-Indo-European root pezd- “fart,” source of Latin pēdere, Greek bdeîn, and Polish bździeć, all meaning “to fart,” which well fits the sound made by the firework. Gig may be imitative in origin, but the word or words are very problematic, and it is less difficult to state what gig does not mean than what it does mean: “a flighty, giddy girl (cf. giglet, giggle); a top (i.e., the toy); “odd-looking character, a fool; a joke, merriment.” Fizgig entered English in the 16th century.

how is fizgig used?

Neither powder nor pepper (you know) was adulterated in those days, and if you made a fizgig, why it blossomed and starred like a golden thistle, flashed into a myriad sparklets like a tiny fountain for Queen Mab and her troupe to dance round.

Frank Fowler, Last Gleanings, 1864

What sputters green and blue, this fizgig called Fifine!

Robert Browning, Fifine at the Fair, 1872

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