Word of the Day

Thursday, June 04, 2020

caseous

[ key-see-uhs ]

adjective

of or like cheese.

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What is the origin of caseous?

The English adjective caseous derives from the Latin noun cāseus “cheese,” which in Latin comedy (Plautus), at least, is used as a term of endearment: molliculus cāseus “delicate cheese.” (Molliculus is a diminutive of the adjective mollis “soft.” Diminutives are characteristic of colloquial Latin, and therefore of comedy, and also exist in modern Romance languages, e.g., Italian orecchio “ear,” from auricula, a diminutive of auris “ear.”) The etymology of cāseus is unknown, but it may come from earlier, unrecorded kwātsos, meaning “something runny,” from the Proto-Indo-European root kwat- “to ferment; be, become, or make sour.” If that is so, cāseus may be related to Russian kvas “sour beer,” and Polish kwas “acid.” Caseous entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is caseous used?

Second, eat these little caseous balloons immediately—like topical plays, they lose value every couple of minutes.

Jonathan Reynolds, "Say Cheese Balls," New York Times, September 30, 2001

I have no doubt but that in the process of churning the whole milk there is a large amount of lactic acid formed, and a much higher temperature attained, than in the churning of cream; consequently, the separation of caseous matter must be more perfectly effected in the former than in the latter case.

Charles A. Cameron, The Stock-Feeder's Manual: The Chemistry of Food in Relation to the Breeding and Feeding of Live Stock, 1868

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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

glower

[ glou-er ]

verb (used without object)

to look or stare with sullen dislike, discontent, or anger.

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What is the origin of glower?

The verb glower, “to look or stare with sullen dislike,” comes from Middle English gloren, glouren “to shine, gleam, glow; stare, stare at fixedly.” The Middle English forms are mostly from the north (Yorkshire) and Scotland; the sense “to stare at fixedly” is Scottish. The source of gloren and glouren is obscure, but possibly Scandinavian, e.g., Icelandic glóra “to glow (like a cat’s eyes)” and Swedish and Norwegian dialect glora “to glow, stare.” The source of gloren, glouren may also be from Middle Low German glūren “to be overcast” or Dutch glueren “to leer, peep.” Glower entered English in the 15th century.

how is glower used?

Alfred glowered at us as if he never could, or would, forgive the injury of that night.

Charles Dickens, Bleak House, 1853

Angela was dismayed: was she sure she knew the way back? Of course she knew it, Cecilia said, glowering. She wasn’t an idiot.

Tessa Hadley, "Cecilia Awakened," The New Yorker, September 10, 2018

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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

ex-voto

[ eks-voh-toh ]

noun

a painting or other object left as an offering in fulfillment of a vow or in gratitude, as for recovery from an illness or injury.

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What is the origin of ex-voto?

Ex-voto, “out of a vow (fulfilled or undertaken),” refers to a painting or other artifact left as an offering in fulfillment of a vow or in gratitude, e.g., for recovery from an illness or injury. Ex-voto being a Latin phrase, such offerings are therefore associated with Western Christianity, especially with Mediterranean Catholicism (Italy, Iberia, former Spanish colonies abroad). (The Greek Orthodox Church has a similar custom; the offerings in the Greek Church are called támata, plural of táma “a vow, an ex-voto offering.”) The custom antedates Christianity by many hundreds of years: In the Iliad Hector says he will hang the weapons of his foe in the temple of Apollo; the poet Hesiod dedicated the tripod he won in a poetry contest in Chalcis to the Muses on Mount Helicon. Miltiades, the general of the Athenians and their Plataean allies at the Battle of Marathon (490 b.c.), dedicated his helmet in the temple of Zeus in Olympia (where his helmet is on display on the archaeological museum). Even the witty, urbane Horace refers to “the sacred wall with its votive tablet [tabulā… vōtīvā] shows where I have hung my sodden garments in gratitude to the god of the sea” (for escaping the surely destructive shipwreck of a love affair). Ex-voto entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is ex-voto used?

Amid the fear and uncertainty of wartime, ex-votos doubled as a means of communication and thanksgiving between a human and her god and saints.

Alexxa Gotthardt, "A Brief History of the Mexican Votive Paintings That Inspired Frida Kahlo," Artsy, November 1, 2016

The purpose of the ex-voto is not only to record the individual experiences of Messer Zaneto de Friza and his sons but also to proclaim their experiences to a public audience.

Mary Laven, "Recording Miracles in Renaissance Italy," Past & Present, Vol. 230, November 16, 2016

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