Word of the Day

Saturday, April 11, 2020

cosset

[ kos-it ]

verb (used with object)

to treat as a pet; pamper; coddle.

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What is the origin of cosset?

The verb cosset “to treat as a pet, pamper, coddle” is a derivative verb use of the noun cosset “a lamb raised as a pet.” The noun cosset has no certain etymology, but it has been suggested that it comes from Middle English cot-sēte “cottage dweller, cottager,” from Old English cot-sǣta. Cot-sēte, a rare enough word, is last recorded about 1400. Modern cosset (in the sense “pet lamb”) first appears in English in The Shepheardes Calender (1579) by Edmund Spenser, who uses words and spellings that were already archaic in his time.

how is cosset used?

It occurred to me, as I took my bag over, that it might be airline policy to comfort those who were going home for reasons such as mine with an upgrade, to cosset them through the night with quiet sympathy and an extra blanket or something.

Colm Tóibín, "One Minus One," The New Yorker, April 30, 2007

We cosset and succor its every sniffle with enormous devotion, even as we more or less ignore the increasingly urgent fever that the globe is now running.

Bill McKibben, "Money? Happiness. QED." Mother Jones, March–April 2007

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Friday, April 10, 2020

hero

[ heer-oh ]

noun

a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character.

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Why we chose hero

Heroes are everywhere right now, and we’re teaming up with Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans to say thank you. Share your message of gratitude with #EveryoneKnowsAHero and @RocketMortgage. Watch below to learn more.

What is the origin of hero?

The English singular noun hero is formed from the plural heroes, which comes from Latin hērōes, the plural of hērōs “(mythical) hero.” Hērōs comes from Greek hḗrōs (plural hḗrōes) “hero,” a very ancient word that meant many things to the Greeks. A compound noun trisērohei, literally “Thrice Hero,” possibly the name of a deity “Clan Ancestor (?),” appears on a Linear B tablet from Pylos, dating to the 13th century b.c. In the Iliad, hḗrōs means “warrior,” and often little more than “man,” and not a semidivine being. In later Greek, hḗrōs was a semidivine being with his own cult, usually local, the only exception being Hercules (Heracles). (Greek Hērākléēs, also spelled Hērāklês, means “Glory of Hera.” Hḗrā is the Greek feminine form of hḗrōs; she is a daughter of Cronus and sister and wife of Zeus. Her name occurs next to the name of Zeus on the same Mycenaean Greek text, which makes likely the assumption that Hera was already honored as the consort of Zeus.) Unfortunately, hḗrōs and its derivative noun Hḗrā, like 60 percent of Greek vocabulary, have no satisfactory etymology. The various etymologies proposed suffer from various degrees of improbability. Hero entered English in the 16th century.

how is hero used?

Amid all the bleak news about the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to remember that there are so many heroes in America right now.

Lisa Lerer, "The Other Front-Line Workers," New York Times, April 2, 2020

Every crisis has its heroes, every disaster its displays of selflessness and sacrifice. … And now, amid the coronavirus pandemic, our health-care workers, doctors, nurses, EMTs and support staff who risk becoming infected themselves—who risk infecting their own families—are making extraordinary sacrifices to care for the rest of us.

Ruth Marcus, "These are the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic," Washington Post, March 27, 2020

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Thursday, April 09, 2020

force majeure

[ French fawrs ma-zhœr ]

noun

Law.

an unexpected and disruptive event that may operate to excuse a party from a contract.

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What is the origin of force majeure?

Force majeure, “superior force,” is a legal term in commercial and contract law for an unexpected, disruptive event that may excuse one party or both parties from a contract. The force majeure may be limited to what some jurisdictions term “acts of God,” such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. The force majeure may also be broader in scope, including manmade events such as strikes, riots, crime, or other social unrest. Force majeure is unnaturalized in English; even the pronunciation of majeure is at least partly Frenchified. Force comes from Old French force, from Vulgar Latin fortia, a singular feminine noun use of the neuter plural adjective fortia “strong, robust (things),” from the adjective fortis, forte. Many Latin neuter plural nouns and adjectives, which end in –a, become in the Romance languages feminine collective singular nouns, also ending in –a: for instance, the Latin neuter plural gaudia “joys, delights” (singular gaudium) becomes joie in French and gioia in Italian, both feminine singular nouns. Majeure is the normal French development of Latin major– (the inflectional stem of major, majus “greater”). Force majeure first appears in print in A digest of the civil laws now in force in the territory of Orleans…. (1803)–all of the texts, however, are in French. The first appearance of force majeure in English is in Questions and answers on law: Alphabetically arranged, with references to the most approved authorities, Volume 2 (1841).

how is force majeure used?

What’s more, decisions about whether coronavirus qualifies as a force majeure event will affect entire supply chains, causing a ripple-down effect—one broken obligation, or invocation of the clause, can domino into many others down the line.

Talib Visram, "What is 'force majeure'? The legal term you'll be hearing a lot during the coronavirus crisis," Fast Company, March 30, 2020

All tickets have a force majeure clause, which might get organizers off the hook of paying refunds if the coronavirus is deemed to be “beyond Tokyo 2020’s reasonable control.”

Stephen Wade, "Tokyo's delayed Olympics: Who pays bills for another year?" Associated Press, March 25, 2020

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