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[ kawr-sair ] [ ˈkɔr sɛər ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a pirate, especially formerly of the southern Mediterranean coast.

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More about corsair

Corsair “a pirate” is the product of a long chain of borrowings from one Romance language to the next on its way to English. The term comes via Middle French corsaire from Provençal corsar, and before that, the word traveled by way of Italian corsaro from Medieval Latin cursārius “plunderer,” equivalent to Latin cursus “a running, course” plus -ārius, an agent noun-forming suffix. Cursus comes from the verb currere “to run,” which has four common descendant forms in English: corr- via Italian and Spanish (as in corral and corridor), cour- via French (as in courier and discourse), cur(r)- (as in current and occur), and curs- (as in cursor and excursion). Corsair was first recorded in English in the 1540s.

how is corsair used?

Act One begins on the Greek island controlled by the corsairs, or pirates. There’s a raucous, offstage chorus introducing Corrado, the chief corsair, who is in exile.

“Giuseppe Verdi's 'Il Corsaro'”, NPR, April 21, 2007

London dismantled markets for trading pirate booty; pirate-friendly cities like Port Royal, Jamaica, were brought under heel, and blockades were launched on the potentates that harbored the corsairs of the southern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia.

Bruce Sterling, “It’s not Cybarmageddon, it's the new heyday of piracy,” Wired, September 3, 2011
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[ er-zahts, -sahts ] [ ˈɛr zɑts, -sɑts ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


serving as a substitute; synthetic; artificial.

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More about ersatz

Ersatz “serving as a substitute” is a borrowing of the German noun Ersatz “a substitute,” from the verb ersetzen “to replace.” Ersetzen is a compound of the Old High German elements ir- “out” and sezzan “to set.” Ir-, a variant of ur-, is related to English about, but, out, utmost, and utter as well as to German Urheimat and Ursprache, plus the recent Word of the Day carouse. Sezzan is closely related to English nest, saddle, seat, set, settle, sit, and soot, and to borrowings originally from other Indo-European languages including the recent Words of the Day assiduity, chaise longue, and sídh. Ersatz was first recorded in English in the early 1870s.

how is ersatz used?

Unable to print the real thing, Zimbabwe’s central bank recently announced that it would introduce a kind of ersatz American money for citizens to use in its place.

Norimitsu Onishi, “Will Ersatz Dollars Satisfy Cash-Starved Zimbabweans?” The New York Times, June 23, 2016

Christman says it’s possible to induce ersatz left-handedness by moving the eyes from side to side, which gets both sides of the brain going.

JR Minkel, “Lefties May Possess Superior Memory for Events,” Scientific American, October 23, 2001
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[ dou-tee ] [ ˈdaʊ ti ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


steadfastly courageous and resolute; valiant.

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More about doughty

Doughty “steadfastly courageous,” despite spelling and pronunciation, is not related to doubt, doughy, or dowdy. Instead, it comes from Old English dohtig “worthy,” which is equivalent to modern English dow “to be able” or “to thrive, prosper” plus two suffixes: -th, which indicates a noun of action (as in birth) or quality (as in warmth), and -y “characterized by, inclined to” (as in dreamy and juicy). In this way, doughty literally translates from Old English as “worthiness-y,” which is an awkward mouthful. Doughty was first recorded in English before 1000 a.d.

how is doughty used?

A doughty branch of the early human family, Neanderthals were big-brained and thick-boned hunters who once ranged from Spain to Siberia.

Dan Vergano, “Neanderthals Died Out 10,000 Years Earlier Than Thought, With Help From Modern Humans,” National Geographic, August 20, 2014

He was a doughty defender of his grandfather’s legacy and even though many of those subjected to the estate’s strictures in relation to permissions and fees actively resented them, Stephen was acting, as he saw it, to uphold his grandfather’s heritage.

Danica Kirka, “Grandson of author James Joyce dies in France,” AP News, February 8, 2020
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