Word of the Day

Friday, August 17, 2018

corpocracy

[ kawr-pok-ruh-see ]

noun

a society in which corporations have much economic and political power.

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What is the origin of corpocracy?

Corpocracy is an unlovely compound noun formed from corporate or corporation plus the common combining form -cracy, ultimately from the Greek combining form -kratía, formed from krátos “strength, power,” and the noun suffix -ía. Corpocracy is not a recent word: it first appears in print in 1935, right smack in the middle of the Great Depression, during FDR’s first term.

how is corpocracy used?

Whether you are in business or government, you will be members of the same corpocracy. In the West, there are tensions between government and business elites. In China, these elites are part of the same social web, cooperating for mutual enrichment.

David Brooks, "The Dictatorship of Talent," New York Times, December 4, 2007

… David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” features a futuristic South Korea-inspired “corpocracy,” a hotbed of clones, plastic surgery (“facescaping”), and insurrection.

Ed Park, "Sorry Not Sorry," The New Yorker, October 19, 2015
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Thursday, August 16, 2018

anodyne

[ an-uh-dahyn ]

noun

anything that relieves distress or pain: The music was an anodyne to his grief.

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What is the origin of anodyne?

Anodyne has a surprising etymology. Its Greek original, anṓdynos “painless,” breaks down to the elements an-, ṓd-, -yn-, -os-. The first element, an- “not,” is from the same Proto-Indo-European source as Latin in- and Germanic (English) un-. The second to last element -yn- is from the noun suffix -ýnē; the last element, -os, is an adjective ending. The main element odýnē “pain” (édyna in the Aeolic dialect) consists of ṓd-, a derivative of the Greek root ed-, od- from the Proto-Indo-European root ed-, od- “to eat” (source of Latin edere, Germanic (Old English) etan, Hittite et-, Homeric Greek édmenai, all meaning “eat, to eat.”) In Greek odýnē is something that eats you (cf. colloquial English, “What’s eating you?”). The Germanic languages also have the compound verb fra-etan “to eat up, devour,” which becomes in German fressen “devour, gorge, corrode,” and in Old English fretan “to devour,” English fret, which nowadays usually has only its extended sense “feel worry or pain.” Anodyne entered English in the 16th century.

how is anodyne used?

… he realized that then, and now, work had been an anodyne of sorts. It had occupied his mind.

Patrick Taylor, An Irish Country Courtship, 2010

… he would run down the great staircase, with its lions of gilt bronze and its steps of bright porphyry, and wander from room to room, and from corridor to corridor, like one who was seeking to find beauty an anodyne from pain, a sort of restoration from sickness.

Oscar Wilde, "The Young King," A House of Pomegranates, 1891
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

marplot

[ mahr-plot ]

noun

a person who mars or defeats a plot, design, or project by meddling.

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What is the origin of marplot?

The noun marplot is a combination of the verb mar “to damage, spoil” and its direct object, the noun plot, formed like the noun pickpocket. Marplot is a character in a farce, The Busie Body, written by Susanna Centlivre, c1667-1723, an English actress, poet, and playwright, and produced in 1709. In the play Marplot is a well-meaning busybody who meddles in and ruins the romantic affairs of his friends.

how is marplot used?

… Time is unalterable; he swings his merry bomb through centuries, nor feels a jot the mental agony of us sublunary mortals; therefore is he, to our thinking, a Marplot.

, "New Music," The Metropolitan, April 1843

Humpty is Puss’ childhood frenemy: pal, rival and seemingly inept marplot to our hero’s suave efficiency in a crisis.

Richard Corliss, "Antonio Banderas in Puss in Boots: One Cool Cat," Time, October 28, 2011

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