Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, August 08, 2021

chuffle

[ chuhf-uhl ]

verb (used without object)

(of the larger species of cats) to make a low snuffling sound analogous to the purring of smaller cat species, often as a greeting.

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What is the origin of chuffle?

Chuffle, “to make a low snuffling sound analogous to the purring of smaller cat species,” is likely of imitative origin, rendering in letters a close approximation of the sound in question. A comparable sound that steam engines emit is the source of the similar verbs chuff, chug, and even choo-choo. The ending, –le, is likely the frequentative suffix also found in verbs such as sparkle and twinkle, indicating repetitive action or motion.

how is chuffle used?

Tigers make a sound called a chuffle. These guys can’t purr like house cats. They’re roaring cats, they roar. So they chuffle; it’s like blowing air through their nose. That means they’re happy. It’s an affectionate sound.

Peter Laufer, Forbidden Creatures, 2010

“Indira’s our most playful and friendly animal at the retreat,” Ms. Wilson, Zambi’s operations manager, said. “She’s everybody’s favourite; she’s the first one to run up and chuffle at you – that’s her friendly sound.”

Kim Arlington, "Eye of the tiger: Sydney veterinary specialists work to save Indira's sight," Sydney Morning Herald, July 13, 2016

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Word of the day

Saturday, August 07, 2021

ruminate

[ roo-muh-neyt ]

verb (used without object)

to meditate or muse; ponder.

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What is the origin of ruminate?

Ruminate, “to meditate, muse, or ponder,” comes from Latin rūminātus, the past participle of rūmināre, rūminārī “(of cattle) to chew the cud; (of humans) to turn over in the mind, ponder” (Roman cattle were famous throughout the ancient Mediterranean for their contemplativeness). Rūmināre is a derivative of the noun rūmen (inflectional stem rūmin) “throat, gullet.” Rūmen is possibly related to Sanskrit romantha– “cud-chewing” and Welsh rhumen “belly, paunch, udder.” Ruminate entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is ruminate used?

“Good night, little ones!” said the Professor. “You may leave me now—to ruminate. I’m as jolly as the day is long, except when it’s necessary to ruminate on some very difficult subject. All of me,” he murmured sleepily as we left the room, “all of me, that isn’t Bonhommie, is Rumination!”

Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, 1893

One of the hardest parts of napping on a schedule is quieting a too-loud brain. It’s easy to ruminate and stress, and to spend half an hour digging through your mind’s detritus rather than unplugging.

February 15, 2021, "How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Nap," New York Times, Tim Barribeau

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Word of the day

Friday, August 06, 2021

apopemptic

[ ap-uh-pemp-tik ]

adjective

pertaining to leave-taking or departing; valedictory.

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What is the origin of apopemptic?

The English apopemptic is a straightforward borrowing of the Greek adjective apopemptikós, “pertaining to dismissal, valedictory,” a derivative of the adverb and preposition apό- “off, away” and the verb pémpein “to send,” a verb with no clear etymology. The Greek noun pompḗ, a derivative of pémpein, means “escort, procession, parade, magnificence,” adopted into Latin as pompa (with the same meanings), used in Christian Latin to refer to the ostentations of the devil, especially in baptismal formulas, e.g., “Do you reject the devil and all his pomps?” Apopemptic entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is apopemptic used?

As Opal Codd said sweetly my last day, her apopemptic word for me was “agathism.” Once again, I could do no more but ask her to translate. “My dear,” she said, “apopemptic! Pertaining to farewell, of course.” “Of course. But ‘agathism’? A belief in Agatha Christie?”

Gillian Roberts, All's Well That Ends, 2007

For you the gods of song forgo their quarrel; / Panther and Wolf forget their former anger; / For you this ancient ceremony of greeting / Becomes a solemn apopemptic hymn.

A. D. Hope, "Soledades of the Sun and Moon," Poems, 1960

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