Word of the Day

Saturday, April 14, 2018

carking

[ kahr-king ]

adjective

Archaic. distressful.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of carking?

Carking derives from Norman French carquier “to load, burden,” from Late Latin carcāre, carricāre “to load.” In Old French, i.e., Parisian French, the dialect spoken in the île de France (the region of France that includes Paris), Late Latin carcāre becomes chargier (which becomes charge in English). Norman French does not palatalize c (representing the sound k) before a, which Old French does; thus in English we have the doublets cattle (from Norman French) and chattel from Parisian French. Late Latin carcāre becomes cargar “to load” in Spanish, the source of English cargo. Carking entered English in the early 14th century.

how is carking used?

Laranger’s answering smile showed no trace of the carking anxiety and deadly uncertainty which filled him at the thought of the future.

Joseph B. Ames, "The Secret of Spirit Lake," Boys' Life, September 1927

If we get our victuals daily we can lift our voices gaily / In a song that chants farewell to carking care.

Anonymous, "Cheer Up," The Rotarian, June 1920
quiz icon
WHAT'S YOUR WORD IQ?
Think you're a word wizard? Try our word quiz, and prove it!
TAKE THE QUIZ
arrows pointing up and down
SYNONYM OF THE DAY
Double your word knowledge with the Synonym of the Day!
SEE TODAY'S SYNONYM

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Friday, April 13, 2018

tub-thump

[ tuhb-thuhmp ]

verb

Informal. to promote something or express opinions vociferously.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of tub-thump?

Tub-thump, a very rare word, is a back formation of tub-thumper “a vociferous supporter of a cause.” The verb tub-thump was coined by the British author Herman C. McNeile (1888–1937), whose pen name was “Sapper,” and who wrote the series of thrillers whose hero was Bulldog Drummond. The only other author to use the verb tub-thump was the American poet and editor Ezra Pound (1885-1972). Tub-thump entered English in 1920.

how is tub-thump used?

Ever eager to tub-thump America’s vast superiority, local civic chauvinists wanted our homegrown exposition to outstrip them all.

Jean Zimmerman, Savage Girl, 2014

Whereas the United States and many other countries are finding pollution control easier to tub-thump with than to implement, Britain has the existing machinery of the Alkali Inspectorate, the Clean Air Acts and the river authorities whose ambitious programmes were well under way before the word environment was heard in Westminster.

Jon Tinker, "Environmental politician," New Scientist, April 22, 1971
Thursday, April 12, 2018

mercurial

[ mer-kyoor-ee-uh l ]

adjective

changeable; volatile; fickle; flighty; erratic: a mercurial nature.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of mercurial?

The English adjective mercurial ultimately comes from the Latin adjective mercuriālis “of or pertaining to Mercurius“ (i.e., the god Mercury), whose original function was as god of commerce, transporters of goods (especially of grain), and shopkeepers. Latin also has the plural noun, derived from the adjective, Mercuriālēs, the name of a guild of merchants. Mercurius is related to merx (stem merc-) “goods, wares, commodities” (and the ultimate source of English merchant and merchandise). By classical times Mercury was completely identified with the Greek god Hermes—the messenger of the gods because he was fast-moving, and always on the move, negotiating, fast-talking, making deals, flimflamming, playing tricks. Mercurius also acquired the meaning “pertaining to the planet Mercury” (Stella Mercuriī, “Star of Mercury,” a translation of Greek astḕr toû Hermoû), the fastest moving of the planets. Mercurial entered English in the 14th century in the sense “pertaining to the planet Mercury.”

how is mercurial used?

A mercurial woman, elusive in her lifetime, Anne is still changing centuries after her death, carrying the projections of those who read and write about her.

Hilary Mantel, "Author's Note," Bring Up the Bodies, 2012

Agriculture, which was most of all to have profited from inflation, on the theory that the mercurial crop-prices would rise faster than anything else, actually suffered the most of all …

Sinclair Lewis, It Can't Happen Here, 1935

Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox

Get the Word of the Day every day!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.