Word of the Day

Word of the day

Saturday, August 28, 2021

cruciverbalist

[ kroo-suh-vur-buh-list ]

noun

a designer or aficionado of crossword puzzles.

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What is the origin of cruciverbalist?

Cruciverbalist is a combination of two Latin words—crux “cross” and verbum “word”—and in this way, it’s a direct translation of the word crossword using Latin elements. Crux is also the source of numerous words related to crosses or, more figuratively, focal points, such as crucial and excruciating, while verbum’s descendants include verbal, verbiage, and verbose, all of which pertain to words.

how is cruciverbalist used?

There is an honour among crossword-solvers. I would never give away an answer to a fellow cruciverbalist, unless specifically asked to do so. And if someone did ask me for an answer, I have to confess that I wouldn’t regard that person as a proper cruciverbalist.

Simon Brett, Blood at the Bookies, 2008

David Crossland was the cruciverbalist’s cruciverbalist. The crossword setter, who has died aged 70, was known as “Dac” to readers of The Independent for which he produced cryptic puzzles for 16 years from 2002.

Mike Hutchinson, "David Crossland: French-language teacher who became a crossword setter for The Independent," Independent, November 6, 2018

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Word of the day

Friday, August 27, 2021

orogeny

[ aw-roj-uh-nee, oh-roj- ]

noun

the process of mountain making or upheaval.

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What is the origin of orogeny?

Orogeny is essentially a fusion of two Ancient Greek words: óros “mountain” and -géneia “origin.” While óros and its derivatives are largely technical terms, -géneia is related to numerous words pertaining to birth or family, such as gene, genesis, genetics, and genealogy.

how is orogeny used?

Two hundred and forty million years ago, waves left ripples in soft sands and silts. [S]ediments swept in and buried the ripples whole. They lay there under their blanket for hundreds of millions of years, as ages passed, an orogeny lifted the plateau, time turned ancient muds to rock, and erosion wore the blanket away. Now here we are, in the middle of a desert, looking at the echo of wetter days.

Dana Hunter, “Permanent Impermanence: or, How the Fudge Did That Fossilize?” Scientific American, June 27, 2017

Our reluctant heroine, Essun, is still on the search for her missing daughter in the Stillness but feels responsible for the community that she saved—yet partially destroyed—with her orogeny, the ability to harness the energy of the Earth.

Everdeen Mason, "Best science fiction and fantasy books in August," Washington Post, August 7, 2017

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Word of the day

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Xanadu

[ zan-uh-doo, -dyoo ]

noun

a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment.

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What is the origin of Xanadu?

You may recognize Xanadu from the notorious cult classic film of the same name that starred Olivia Newton-John and spawned a Tony Award-nominated musical, but the word dates not to the ’80s but rather to 800 years ago. Xanadu is an English transliteration of the name of the summer palace belonging to Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan and emperor during the Yuan dynasty; the palace’s name in Mandarin is Shàngdū “upper capital,” and its remains are still visitable today in the Inner Mongolia region of northern China.

how is Xanadu used?

[T]he tiny town of … Marfa was also the perfect canvas for artist Donald Judd’s ambitious dream to create a Xanadu of contemporary art—an indoor-outdoor museum where artworks come alive beneath the wide blue skies and sharp Texas light.

Anne Goodwin Sides, “Donald Judd Found Perfect Canvas In Texas Town,” NPR, January 31, 2009

To most people, Britain is a mythological realm on par with Atlantis or Shangri-La or El Dorado, the Lost City of Gold. Does it even exist? … And much like any other fabled empire, this real-life Xanadu boasts its own elite class of pleasure dome-dwelling artists!

Price Peterson, "One Direction Is Now the Richest Boy Band in British Music History," The Atlantic, May 16, 2014

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