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[ chuh-ras-koh ] [ tʃəˈræs koʊ ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


meat cooked over an open fire.

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More about churrasco

Churrasco “meat cooked over an open fire” is a loanword from Brazilian Portuguese and, beforehand, from the varieties of Latin American Spanish spoken in Argentina and Uruguay. The term appears to be related to or even derived from Spanish chamuscar “to scorch, singe,” churruscar “to begin to burn,” and/or socarrar “to scorch, singe,” but the connections are unclear. Chamuscar is a borrowing from Portuguese and may be distantly related to Latin flamma “flame” (compare Portuguese chama) or ustus “burnt” (compare English combustion). Churruscar and socarrar may be of pre-Roman origin, but alternative theories claim that churruscar is simply an imitation of the sound of grilling or roasting, while socarrar is connected to Basque (Euskera) words related to fire, such as su “fire” and gar (or karra) “flame.” Churrasco was first recorded in English in the late 1910s.

how is churrasco used?

Realizing that there was no convenient alternative for doing churrasco cooking at home, [chef Blake Carson] invented one. “The vast majority of Brazilians barbecue this way, but it is usually by manually rotating the skewers. Very wealthy people might have a built-in permanent motorized setup, like in the restaurants, but they don’t have a portable alternative. It’s an entirely new concept.”

Larry Olmsted, “The Coolest BBQ Grill Ever–Really,” Forbes, June 28, 2012

Barbecuing is a quintessentially South American cooking method and most countries have their own traditional grilling style. Brazil, for instance, has the churrasco, which produces kebabs of multiple kinds of meat that restaurants will continue to serve you until you beg them to stop. The Argentinean asado is a long process, during which a huge fire is allowed to smoulder down to embers.

Lucy Waverman, “Recipe: Chilean slow barbecued pork ribs with Chilean salad,” Globe and Mail, July 10, 2015
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[ sig-nit ] [ ˈsɪg nɪt ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a young swan.

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More about cygnet

Cygnet “a young swan” was spelled during the Middle English period as signet but is based on Latin cygnus “swan,” plus the French suffix -et “little, small” (as in owlet “little owl” and tablet “little table”). This habit of changing the spelling of words to reflect their origins, also called restored spelling, is hardly limited to cygnet; take a gander at arctic, asthma, debt, homily, horizon, receipt, and symptom, which were respectively spelled in Middle or Early Modern English as artik, asma, dette, omelie, orizonte, receite, and sinthoma but changed to reflect their earlier forms in Latin or Ancient Greek. Despite the spelling of cygnet as signet in Middle English, cygnet is not related to the modern English word signet “a small seal, as on a finger ring,” which is a compound of sign and the suffix -et. Cygnet was first recorded in English in the early 15th century.

how is cygnet used?

The plan was to raise the wild cygnets at captive ponds and then release them in the Hayden Valley come fall …. Over the years most of the cygnets haven’t been released in Yellowstone park itself, but rather along the fringes of a tristate trumpeter swan population that covers much of the larger ecosystem.

Mike Koshmrl, “Biologists intervene to keep swans alive in Yellowstone,” AP News, July 25, 2018

Today, juvenile swans—cygnets—are counted, weighed, checked for injury or illness and then released …. A sudden die-off in the 1980s was attributed to swans swallowing lead fishing weights. Numbers bounced back after they were banned.

Corinne Purtill, “Queen owns all of the U.K.'s swans. Every year, she counts them,” USA Today, July 22, 2015
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[ hoh-kuhm ] [ ˈhoʊ kəm ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


out-and-out nonsense; bunkum.

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More about hokum

Hokum “out-and-out nonsense” is an Americanism, a word first recorded in American English, and as with many Americanisms, hokum has quite the peculiar backstory. Though its origins are disputed, many linguists consider hokum to be a combination of hocus-pocus and prior Word of the Day bunkum “insincere talk.” Hocus-pocus is a fake Latin term used by magicians and jugglers that may have been based on the real Latin phrase hoc est (enim) corpus (meum) “(for) this is (my) body,” but that is a fringe theory. Bunkum is a namesake of Buncombe County, North Carolina (county seat Asheville), which Felix Walker represented in the House of Representatives from 1817 to 1823. During a debate over what eventually became the Missouri Compromise, Walker attempted to deliver a speech, speaking “to Buncombe” rather than to the House, that was so lengthy and irritating that his colleagues shouted at him until he stopped talking. The name Buncombe (respelled phonetically as bunkum) soon developed the meaning of “insincere speechmaking by a politician intended merely to please local constituents.” Hokum was first recorded in English in the late 1910s.

how is hokum used?

Students should get an introduction to logic. They should learn a bit about cognitive science to understand some of the biases and mental shortcuts we all subconsciously employ …. Critical thinking is as much about problem solving and extracting meaning from complexity as it is about not falling for hokum.

Scott K. Johnson, “Re-thinking the way colleges teach critical thinking,” Scientific American, December 14, 2012

There were always a few people around who had it figured that the witch superstition was hokum, but they weren’t scientific rationalists. According to Hugh Trevor-Roper here (in his book of historical essays, “The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century”) they were mostly lawyers, medical doctors and mystical philosophers.

Bruce Sterling, “Enlightened skeptics during the witch-craze,” Wired, August 9, 2018
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