a person who preys on others; extortioner.
Caterpillar has a complicated history. Late Middle English has catyrpel, catirpiller (and other variants). These are probably alterations of catepelose, an Old North French variant of Old French chatepelose “hairy cat,” from chate “(female) cat,” from Late Latin cattus (masculine) and catta (feminine) “cat” and pelose, pelouse “hairy,” from Latin pilōsus. The Middle English spelling with –yr– is probably due to association with cater “tomcat” (as in caterwaul “to utter long, wailing cries”); the final –er is probably by association with piller “despoiler.” Caterpillar in its original sense “larva of a butterfly or moth” entered English in the 15th century; the sense “extortioner” arose in the late 15th century; the sense “a tractor with two endless steel bands for moving over rough terrain” is a trademark dating from the early years of the 20th century, just in time for World War I.
The caterpillars of the commonwealth, / Which I have sworn to weed and pluck away.
By dismissing the Hanoverians … we shall only send away the caterpillars which devour our victuals …
(sometimes initial capital letter)
the style and techniques of a group of artists, writers, etc., of the early 20th century who exploited accidental and incongruous effects in their work and who programmatically challenged established canons of art, thought, morality, etc.
Despite how it sounds, Dada has nothing to do with dads or Father’s Day. It is a reduplication of the familiar, universal baby syllable da, a French reduplication, specifically, chosen as an arbitrary name for the French and German art movement founded in Zurich in 1916, in the middle of World War I, by a group of multinational and multilingual writers, artists, and composers. According to two of Dada’s founders, the word was chosen at random from dada, a headword in a French dictionary, meaning, in baby talk, “horse, hobbyhorse.” The founders were also attracted by the meaninglessness of the two syllables.
In terms of art, Dada could be said to have had the most wide-ranging post-war impact, a fact which is paradoxical given Dada‘s anti-art inclinations.
… Scramsfield had manufactured enough Dada poetry to fill up the rest of the magazine by copying out random sections of a boiler repair manual into irregular stanzas, knowing that this should be sufficiently confusing to satisfy his patron …
a small fruit, especially one of those forming an aggregate fruit, as the raspberry.
Fruitlet is a perfectly transparent word, used as a technical term in botany. The first syllable, fruit, comes from Old French fruit, a regular development from Latin frūctus “enjoyment, produce, results.” The diminutive suffix –let comes from Middle French –elet, from Latin –āle (the neuter of the adjective suffix –ālis), or from the Latin diminutive suffix –ellus and the Old French noun suffix –et (-ette). Fruitlet entered English in the second half of the 19th century.
… in the raspberry the separate fruitlets are all crowded close together into a single united mass, while in the strawberry they are scattered about loosely, and embedded in the soft flesh of the receptacle.
… the eyes, or diamond fruitlets, on the surface have soft or smooth tips.
verb (used without object)
to move with a sinuous or wavelike motion; display a smooth rising-and-falling or side-to-side alternation of movement: The flag undulates in the breeze.
Something that undulates, as a flag or rhythm, moves side to side or rises and falls like a wave. Indeed, its origin is Latin unda “wave,” via undulātus “waved, wavy,” composed of –ula, a diminutive suffix, and –ātus, a past participle suffix. Unda also yields English abound, abundant, inundate, redound, redundant, and surround. Latin unda in turn comes from the Proto-Indo-European root wed– “water, wet,” ultimate source of the names of two substances that may cause some to undulate, as it were, on their feet: vodka (via Russian) and whiskey (Irish or Scots Gaelic). Best to stay hydrated, another derivative of wed-, via Greek hýdōr “water.” Undulate entered English in the 1600s.
At the end, the national anthem is played, and our flag undulates all day on its very tall mast and unfurls as it ascends majestically.
There is a strange, dull glow to the east, from the sea; it undulates softly, rotates, like a net that has captured nothing.
any remarkable or outstanding person or thing.
Lulu was originally a piece of American slang. Slang terms have notoriously difficult origins, and lulu, also spelled loulou and looly, has no reliable etymology. Lulu first entered English in the mid-1850s.
… Marty loved to point out any big or little step and say to her, “Watch out. It’s a lulu.”
I started to work at the knot, which was a lulu.
browbeaten; defeated; intimidated; abject: He always went about with a hangdog look.
Hangdog is a compound of hang and dog, originally an expression for a person deemed so low and despicable they were considered fit only to hang a bad dog or be hanged like one, as was once the custom; hence, by extension, “browbeaten, defeated, intimidated abject.” In the American South the adjectival form doghanged also occurs, like Southern peckerwood for woodpecker. Hangdog entered English in the second half of the 17th century.
For more than a year now, the desolation Lyndon Johnson felt about his position had shown in his posture … and in his face, on which all the lines ran downward, his jowls sagging, so that reporters mocked in print his “hangdog” look.
After his opening remarks, Cohen, with his weary, hangdog look, affected a penitent air.
a perfect comeback or witty remark that one frustratingly comes up with only when the moment for doing so has passed: Writers, by nature, tend to be people in whom l' esprit de l'escalier is a recurrent experience.
The still very foreign phrase esprit de l’escalier first appears in English in one of the remarkable, not to say idiosyncratic, let alone cranky books by the Fowler brothers, F.W. (Francis George) and H.W. (Henry George), The King’s English (1906): “No one will know what spirit of the staircase is who is not already familiar with esprit d’escalier.” The French phrase was coined by the French philosopher and encyclopedist Denis Diderot in his Paradoxe sur le comédien (1773–77), a dramatic essay or dialogue between two actors: “l’homme sensible, comme moi, tout entier à ce qu’on lui objecte, perd la tête et ne se retrouve qu’au bas de l’escalier” (a sensitive man like me, entirely overcome by the objection made against him, loses his head and can only recover his wits at the bottom of the staircase), that is, after he has left the gathering.
Your esprit de l’escalier doesn’t kick in until you’re well out the door.
Later, l’esprit de l’escalier provided Mercia with: Glad you’re in agreement/I haven’t yet spoken/Is that a greeting/Yes indeed—but at the time, affronted, she grabbed at a couple of garments and announced, I’ll try these.