Word of the Day

Thursday, March 25, 2021

concatenation

[ kon-kat-n-ey-shuhn ]

noun

a series of interconnected or interdependent things or events.

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What is the origin of concatenation?

Concatenation comes straight from the Late Latin noun concatēnātiō (stem concatēnātiōn-) “connection, sequence” (literally “chaining together”), a derivation of catēna “chain.” The Italian and Spanish words for “chain” (catena and cadena, respectively) far more closely resemble the Latin original than does the modern French chaîne (the English source for “chain”), which passed through the stages chaeine (Old French), from caeine (Old North French), from Latin catēna. Concatenation entered English in the early 17th century.

how is concatenation used?

It took an amazing concatenation of circumstances, from Lyndon Johnson’s withdrawal to Rockefeller’s tergiversations to Humphrey’s disaster at the hands of the left in Chicago, to make him President.

Stewart Alsop, "Nixon and the Square Majority: Is the Fox a Lion?" The Atlantic, February 1972

Before the huge Saturn 1B rocket thundered off its launch pad, the effort had been plagued by an extraordinary concatenation of weather delays, electronic gremlins and other obstacles.

"Apollo's First Success," New York Times, February 27, 1966

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

peduncle

[ pi-duhng-kuhl, pee-duhng- ]

noun

a flower stalk, supporting either a cluster or a solitary flower.

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What is the origin of peduncle?

The English noun peduncle is a technical term in the biological sciences, meaning “a stalk, flower stalk, stem.” Peduncle comes from New Latin pedunculus, with the same meanings, a derivative of Latin pēs (inflectional stem ped-) “foot” and the suffix –unculus, a variant of –culus, used to form diminutives. Latin pēs, ped– comes from the very widespread Proto-Indo-European root ped-, pod-, pēd-, pōd “foot.” The variant pōd– regularly becomes fōt– in Proto-Germanic, fōtus in Gothic, fōtr in Old Icelandic, fōt in Old English, and foot in English. The variant pod– becomes pous (stem pod-) “foot” in Greek, and the preposition pod “under” in Slavic. The Latin suffix –unculus is uncommon, but it also appears in Latin homunculus “human being, mere human being (as opposed to preternatural or supernatural beings or forces),” English homunculus. Peduncle entered English in the early 18th century.

how is peduncle used?

A member of the iris family, the marica is sometimes known as walking iris because of the way it produces young plants from drooping peduncles (flower stalks).

Edith Saylor Abbott, "Apostle Plant," New York Times, January 18, 1959

On Monday, they [the cherry blossom buds] reached “peduncle elongation,” which is the penultimate stage before the Tidal Basin is overwhelmed by both magnificent flowering trees and an onslaught of tourists.

Jason Samenow, "Cherry blossoms reach 'peduncle elongation' and Park Service moves up peak bloom forecast to April 1," Washington Post, March 26, 2019

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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

emulous

[ em-yuh-luhs ]

adjective

desirous of equaling or excelling.

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What is the origin of emulous?

The English adjective emulous, “desirous of equaling or excelling; jealous, envious,” comes from Latin aemulus with the same meanings, both positive and negative. Aemulus is a Latin derivative of the rare Proto-Indo-European root aim-, im– “to copy, imitate.” From that same root Latin derives imāgō (inflectional stem imāgin-) “picture, likeness, reflection (in a mirror),” source of English image, imagine, and imago (a technical term in entomology and psychoanalysis), the Latin verb imitārī “to copy, reproduce, imitate,” source of English imitate, imitation, and the Latin adjective inimitābilis “unable to be reproduced or copied, inimitable.” Emulous entered English in the 14th century.

how is emulous used?

Tastefully emulous, Villard wanted his home to transcend its less fashionable location and magnify its owners through classical restraint rather than ostentatious display.

"New York Bookshelf: Villard: The Life and Times of an American Titan", New York Times, May 13, 2001

“Mr. Hareton is desirous of increasing his amount of knowledge,” I said, coming to his rescue. “He is not envious but emulous of your attainments—He’ll be a clever scholar in a few years!”

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, 1847

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