Word of the Day

Thursday, August 23, 2018

capitulate

[ kuh-pich-uh-leyt ]

verb

to give up resistance: He finally capitulated and agreed to do the job my way.

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What is the origin of capitulate?

The English verb capitulate is from the Late Latin capitulātus “drawn up or arranged in chapters or headings,” from the verb capitulāre “to arrange in chapters, summarize, stipulate (in a contract), agree.” Capitulāre is a derivative of the noun capitulum, one of whose meanings in Late Latin is “section of a law,” in the Corpus Juris Civilis of the emperor Justinian (483-565). Capitulate entered English in the 16th century.

how is capitulate used?

He was just too stubborn and pigheaded unless–and here was the one possible case in which he might capitulate–if it were to save his only son.

Wilbur Smith, Birds of Prey, 1997

She realized that living in midtown would shorten her time on the train each day by half, and decided to capitulate. She would stay with her father weeknights, then return to Brooklyn for the weekends.

Elizabeth Gaffney, When the World Was Young, 2014
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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

raffish

[ raf-ish ]

adjective

mildly or sometimes engagingly disreputable or nonconformist; rakish: a matinee idol whose raffish offstage behavior amused millions.

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What is the origin of raffish?

Raffish is protean in its meanings and possible origins. Its meanings include “mildly, engagingly nonconformist, rakish; gaudy, vulgar, tawdry.” Raffish is obviously a derivative of the noun raff, but it is with raff that real problems arise. Raff means “rabble, the lower sort of people, riffraff.” Raff may be a shortening of riffraff (earlier riffe raffe), from Middle English rif and raf, a catchall phrase of very uncertain origin meaning “everything, every particle, things of slight value, everyone, one and all.” Related phrases or idioms exist in other languages: Walloon French has rif-raf “fast and sloppy”; Middle Dutch has rijf ende raf “everything, everyone, one and all; Italian has di riffa o di raffa “one way or another.” Raffish entered English in the late 18th century.

how is raffish used?

In trying to look like raffish characters, American men spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on hairpieces, urban cowboy clothes, disco lessons, imported sports cars, aviator glasses, tailored jogging suits or jump suits, health club memberships, and sex manuals.

Mike Royko, "Jay's Bottom Line," Chicago Sun-Times, September 24, 1980

He was wearing a dark suit and a collar and tie, but he had that raffish seediness about him of a newspaper journalist.

M. C. Beaton, The Potted Gardener, 1994
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

kyoodle

[ kahy-ood-l ]

verb

to bark or yelp noisily or foolishly; yap.

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What is the origin of kyoodle?

Kyoodle began as and still may be an Americanism. The word has no distinguished etymology (except for the vague label Imitative), which exactly fits the verb and also one of its noun meanings: mutt, noisy dog. Some distinguished American authors have used the word, however, including John Steinbeck, John O’Hara, and Sinclair Lewis. Kyoodle entered English in the late 19th century.

how is kyoodle used?

No living thing moved upon it, not even a medicine wolf to kyoodle to the invisible moon.

Richard Sale, The White Buffalo, 1975

But the dogs waved their tails happily and sought out a rabbit and went kyoodling after it.

John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat, 1935

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