Word of the Day

Thursday, March 04, 2021

confabulate

[ kuhn-fab-yuh-leyt ]

verb (used without object)

to converse informally; chat.

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What is the origin of confabulate?

Confabulate comes from Latin confābulātus, the past participle of confābulārī “to talk together, converse, talk about,” a compound verb formed from the prefix con– “together, with” and the simple verb fābulārī “to talk casually, chat.” Vulgar Latin changed the deponent verb fābulārī to the active verb fābulāre (a deponent verb is one that is passive in form but active in meaning). Syncope, the loss of an unaccented vowel from the middle of a word, was active at all stages of Latin, and fābulāre regularly becomes fāblāre “to speak.” In the Vulgar Latin of Spain and Portugal, on the western fringe of the Roman Empire, fāblāre becomes hablar in (Castilian) Spanish (with typical Castilian change of f– to h-), and falar in Portuguese. The central part of the empire, however, France and Italy, adopted the Christian Latin term parabolāre “to talk in parables, talk using comparisons, talk, speak,” a derivative of Latin parabola, parabolē “explanatory comparison” (from Greek parabolḗ). The noun parabola, parabolē becomes parole in French, parola in Italian, palabra in (Castilian) Spanish, and palavra in Portuguese (the Spanish and Portuguese words show the typical metathesis, or transposition of sounds, of l and r). Confabulate entered English in the early 17th century.

how is confabulate used?

Oh, Ronnie, Ronnie, might you and I confabulate for a moment in the back room? / No, Moira, I’m not falling for that one.

"Open Mic," Schitt's Creek, Season 4, Episode 6, February 27, 2018

“The Fog of War” replays telephone conversations between McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson as they confabulate miserably about a war gone wrong …

Roger Angell, "Late Review," The New Yorker, January 12, 2004

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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

cromulent

[ krom-yuh-luhnt ]

adjective

acceptable or legitimate.

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What is the origin of cromulent?

Cromulent, “acceptable, legitimate,” was first used in an episode of The Simpsons in 1996. When Edna Krabappel, the fourth-grade teacher, remarks, “’Embiggens’? Hm, I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield,” Elizabeth Hoover, the second-grade teacher, answers, “I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.” Cromulent began as a facetious formation of an arbitrary “root” crom– and the English adjective suffix –ulent (from Latin –ulentus “full of”). Cromulent began as a facetious formation but is now at the brink of “cromulence,” as happened earlier with Lewis Carroll’s chortle, frabjous, and galumph.

how is cromulent used?

I suspect that one of the scariest moments for new [crossword] solvers is when they discover that it is perfectly cromulent for constructors to clue answers in a way that means one thing, but twists the answers into real words that mean something totally different.

Deb Amlen, "Mythical Matchmaker," New York Times, April 22, 2020

This is the wonder that is Frinkiac, a compendium of Simpsons moments frozen in time, and the latest, best, most perfectly cromulent way to waste time on the Internet.

Brian Barrett, "Epic 'Frinkiac' Search Engine Matches Any Simpsons Quote With Its Still," Wired, February 3, 2016

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Tuesday, March 02, 2021

comeuppance

[ kuhm-uhp-uhns ]

noun

deserved reward or just deserts, usually unpleasant.

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What is the origin of comeuppance?

Comeuppance “just deserts, usually unpleasant,” is an Americanism that first appeared in Harper’s Magazine in 1859. The word derives from the phrasal verb come up, as a case for judgment at a trial, and the common suffix –ance, which forms nouns from verbs, such as acceptance from accept, or appearance from appear.

how is comeuppance used?

He is such a convincing villain, in fact, that we are all very pleased that he meets his comeuppance when a falling telephone pole impales him while he’s searching for his cell phone.

Noah Gittell, "Michael Cera Might Just Be the Most Interesting Actor of His Generation," The Atlantic, July 29, 2013

The narrative is clear: humans get their comeuppance, Nature fights back, multiple cinematic disasters happen in the space of two hours.

Kate Marvel, "Hollywood: Can You Get Climate Change Right for Once?" Scientific American, January 30, 2019

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