Word of the Day

Friday, November 29, 2019

corybantic

[ kawr-uh-ban-tik, kor- ]

adjective

frenzied; agitated; unrestrained.

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What is the origin of corybantic?

The English adjective corybantic comes from the Greek adjective Korybantikós, a derivative of the noun Korýbās (inflectional stem Korýbant-) “a corybant, a priest of the goddess Cybele in Phrygia (now in west central Turkey),” and in Greek also meaning “drunken person, enthusiast.” Further etymology is risky: apart from Korýbās and its derivatives being non-Greek, not much can be said. Phrygian is an obvious choice, but the Phrygians themselves borrowed a great deal from other peoples of ancient Anatolia (Asian Turkey). Corybantic entered English in the 17th century.

how is corybantic used?

It penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions news items, mutually irrelevant bits of information, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis, but merely create a craving for daily or even hourly emotional enemas.

Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, 1945

There was obviously no enthroned authority here, no bejeweled king to pacify when emotions ran wild, but complete freedom to embrace joy with corybantic abandonment.

Frank Belknap Long, "The Man from Time," Fantastic Universe, March 1954
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Thursday, November 28, 2019

foison

[ foi-zuhn ]

noun

Archaic.

abundance; plenty.

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What is the origin of foison?

The English noun foison is archaic in standard English, but it still occurs in Scottish English. Foison is a regular French phonetic development from the Vulgar Latin noun fusiō (inflectional stem fusiōn-), equivalent to the very rare Late Latin fūsiō (stem fūsiōn-) “a pouring out, effusion, melting (in metallurgy),” a derivative of the verb fundere “to pour, pour out, shed.” Foison came into English via Old French; its doublet, the English noun fusion, entered English straight from Latin in the mid-16th century. Foison entered English in the first half of the 14th century.

how is foison used?

Then delicacies and dainties were delivered to the guests, / Fresh food in foison, such freight of full dishes …

, Sir Gaiwan and the Green Knight (c1375), translated by Brian Stone, 1959
… but nature should bring forth / Of its own kind all foison, all abundance, / To feed my innocent people.
William Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1623
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

postprandial

[ pohst-pran-dee-uhl ]

adjective

after a meal, especially after dinner: postprandial oratory; a postprandial brandy.

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What is the origin of postprandial?

The Latin noun prandium means “midday meal, lunch, luncheon”; the verb prandēre “to have breakfast or lunch” is a derivative of prandium. There is no Latin adjective prandiālis “pertaining to breakfast or lunch,” let alone the adjectives preprandiālis (praeprandiālis) or postprandiālis. There is, however, the Late Latin noun prandiculum “breakfast,” which is found only in lexicographical writings–a salutary warning! Postprandial is used in medicine in its literal meaning “done or happening after a meal.” Apart from medical usage postprandial is a jocular word, as in this example from George Bernard Shaw, “The whole thing was mere postprandial brag, war-game and club-fender gossip” (1917). Postprandial entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is postprandial used?

Most people seem to switch on the game a few minutes after having wolfed down their fifth slice of pie, but if you do that, there’s the cognitive dissonance of watching professional athletes and cheerleaders vigorously moving their bodies while your own body lies on the couch in a state of postprandial lethargy and bloat.

Jeff Gordinier, "Is It Inappropriate to Watch Football While Eating Thanksgiving With My Family?" New York Times, November 18, 2011

The postprandial conversation goes on until dawn.

Roberto Bolaño, Woes of the True Policeman, translated by Natasha Wimmer, 2012

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