Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

cordial

[ kawr-juhl ]

adjective

courteous and gracious.

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What is the origin of cordial?

Cordial “courteous and gracious” derives via Middle English from Medieval Latin cordiālis, from Latin cor (stem cordi-) “heart” and the adjectival suffix -ālis. Cor survives today in English terms such as accord, concord, discord, and record, which were borrowed directly from Latin, and courage, which was borrowed from French. The Proto-Indo-European root that gave rise to cor is kerd- “heart,” which is also the source of English heart and Ancient Greek kardía (as found in cardiac and cardiovascular). Cordial was first recorded in English in the late 1300s.

how is cordial used?

When I met him, I realized that Dyson is probably the most approachable and modest scientist I have met. … He is pointedly opinionated but also consummately cordial …. Discussions about science were punctuated by warm reminiscences about colleagues and fond stories about his grandchildren.

Ashutosh Jogalekar, “#Dysonfest: Celebrating Freeman Dyson’s 90th birthday,” Scientific American, September 24, 2013

I had been counting on this day to ask Mrs. Ford about living in and running the White House, and I didn’t think I would be back in Washington before the inauguration. Then the telephone rang again …. I was off to the White House. Mrs. Ford wasn’t well that afternoon and our visit was brief, but cordial.

Rosalynn Carter, First Lady from Plains, 1984

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Word of the day

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

rout

[ rout ]

noun

a defeat attended with disorderly flight; dispersal of a defeated force in complete disorder.

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What is the origin of rout?

Rout “a defeat attended with disorderly flight” derives via Anglo-French from Old French route “fraction, detachment,” from Latin rupta “(having been) broken.” Rupta is the feminine past participle of the verb rumpere (stem rupt-) “to break,” which is the source of words such as abrupt, interrupt, erupt, and bankrupt. The Latin phrase rupta via “broken road” is the ultimate source of route, a type of roadway or course. Rumpere derives from the Proto-Indo-European root reup- “to break; snatch.” Rout was first recorded in English in the early 1200s.

how is rout used?

At first, the rout was slow, and as many men died trying to get away as pressed forward from behind. The Mongols fired methodically at anything they could see. The officers went down quickly and Kachiun shouted wildly as he saw the rout spread. Those who had not come near the front ranks were knocked aside and infected by fear and blood.

Conn Iggulden, Genghis: Lords of the Bow, 2008

They entered a crowded long room just as a man was saying, “It was a clear defeat for our army, but it wasn’t a rout. Retired in good order, they did.” “And still between the British and Philadelphia,” another assured the audience.

John Conradis, A Vagabond Army: A Novel of Maryland in the American Revolution, Vol. 2, 2008

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Word of the day

Monday, September 27, 2021

chernozem

[ chur-nuh-zem, chair- ]

noun

a soil common in cool or temperate semiarid climates, very black and rich in humus and carbonates.

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What is the origin of chernozem?

Chernozem “a soil common in cool or temperate semiarid climates, very black and rich in humus” is a borrowing from Russian chernozëm, a compound of chërnyĭ “black” and zemlyá “earth.” The first element derives from a root also found in the Slavic names Chernobog “black god” (also spelled Chernabog and Czernobog), one of two gods of fate in Slavic mythology, and Chernobyl, the site of a nuclear disaster in Ukraine, whose name derives from Russian chernobyl “wormwood” or, literally, “black herb.” This same root also appears in Sanskrit as the Hindu god Krishna, whose name means “black.” The latter part of chernozem derives from the Proto-Indo-European root dhghem- “earth,” which is the source of several land-related words, such as chthonic (from Ancient Greek khthōn “earth”), exhume and humble (from Latin humus “earth”), and chameleon and chamomile (from Ancient Greek chamaí “on the ground”). Further derivatives of this root include person-related terms such as bridegroom (from Old English guma “man”), hominid (from Latin homō “man”), and human (from Latin hūmānus, of the same meaning). Chernozem was first recorded in English in the mid-1800s.

how is chernozem used?

The temperate climate of the Ukraine, which lies south of Russia, is similar to that of France and the American Midwest. Here, rainfall is well distributed, and we’ll be riding with heads bowed under a drizzle every other day. As we advance, the earth turns black; this is the famous chernozem that nourishes this lush and grassy country and enables it to support many species of wildlife flying, grazing, and crawling in every direction.

Bjarke Rink, The Rise of the Centaurs, 2013

Two thirds of Ukrainian land, or 42.7 million hectares, is made up of chernozem, the legendary black earth that is widely regarded as the world’s most fertile soil. This is almost exactly the same size as the US state of California. Ukraine’s remarkable land bank makes the country a potential agricultural superpower.

Roman Leshchenko, "Land reform can make Ukraine an agricultural superpower," Atlantic Council, June 22, 2021

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