• Word of the day
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    Wednesday, September 04, 2019

    daffing

    noun [daf-ing] Scot. and North England.
    merriment; playful behavior; foolishness.
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    What is the origin of daffing?

    Daffing, “merriment, playfulness,” also “insanity,” is a British dialect word used in northern England and Scotland (the only two writers of note to use the word are the Scotsmen Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson). Daffing is a derivative of the Scottish verb daff “to play, make sport,” from the obsolete noun daff “fool, idiot, coward,” from the Middle English adjective dafte “well-mannered, gentle, humble,” and “uncouth, boorish, dull” (possibly from the sense “humble, good-natured”). Dafte is also the source of daft “senseless, stupid, crazy,” from Old English dæfte, defte “gentle.” Daffing entered English in the 16th century.

    How is daffing used?

    "Hoot-toot! hoot-toot!" said Cluny. "It was all daffing; it's all nonsense." Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped, 1886

    He must have had a mind full of variety and wide human sympathy almost Shakespearian, who could step from the musings of Windsor ... to the lasses in their gay kritles, and Hob and Raaf with their rustic " daffing," as true to the life as the Ayrshire clowns of Burns .... Margaret Oliphant, Royal Edinburgh, 1890

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, September 03, 2019

    hive mind

    noun [hahyv mahynd] Psychology, Sociology.
    a collective consciousness, analogous to the behavior of social insects, in which a group of people become aware of their commonality and think and act as a community, sharing their knowledge, thoughts, and resources: the global hive mind that has emerged with sites like Twitter and Facebook.
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    What is the origin of hive mind?

    The meaning of the term hive mind, “a collective consciousness, analogous to the behavior of social insects,” is pretty creepy to most of us. The phrase, appropriately enough, first appeared in Galaxy Science Fiction, an American pulp science fiction magazine, in 1950.

    How is hive mind used?

    When I searched, I always selected the videos with the most views first. The wisdom of the so-called hive mind would guide me .... Dana Spiotta, "Down the Rabbit Hole of D.I.Y.," The New Yorker, August 28, 2017

    ... it also has an exceptionally well-organized reference section, summarizing the conclusions of the hive mind on ingredients, the identification and treatment of certain skin conditions, the best products, and how to build an effective routine with them. Julie Beck, "How Skin Care Became an At-Home Science Experiment," The Atlantic, March 9, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, September 02, 2019

    operose

    adjective [op-uh-rohs]
    done with or involving much labor.
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    What is the origin of operose?

    Operose is a borrowing from the Latin adjective operōsus “busy, active, painstaking, taking or involving much care.” Operōsus is a derivative of the noun opus (stem oper-) “labor, work, a work” and the adjective suffix -ōsus, meaning “full of, abounding in.” Opus comes from an uncommon Proto-Indo-European root op- “to work, produce in quantity.” In Oscan, the most conservative of the Italic languages, the root appears in the verbal adjective úpsannam (in form equivalent to Latin operandam, and both derived from Italic opesandam) “to be built, to be made.” Sanskrit derives the noun ápas “work” from op-, and Avestan the compound hvapah- “good work.” Operose entered English in the 16th century.

    How is operose used?

    In reality no problem can be imagined more operose, than that of decomposing the sounds of words into four and twenty simple elements or letters, and again finding these elements in all other words. William Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1793

    So long as we insist upon approaching them through the operose and roundabout method of dead-language studies, schooldays will flee away, and the object will not be accomplished. William P. Atkinson, "Liberal Education of the Nineteenth Century," Popular Science Monthly, Vol. 4, November 1873

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, September 01, 2019

    elide

    verb (used with object) [ih-lahyd]
    to suppress; omit; ignore; pass over.
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    What is the origin of elide?

    Elide comes straight from the Latin verb ēlīdere “to strike out, crush, smash,” a compound of the preposition and prefix ē, ē-, a variant of ex, ex-, here indicating deprivation or loss, and the combining form -līdere, from laedere “to wound, injure, damage.” Ēlīdere and elide both have the legal sense “to nullify, invalidate,” and the grammatical or prosodic sense “to omit a vowel or syllable in pronunciation,” as formerly in English th’embattled plain, and in French l’homme, or Italian l’uomo. Laedere has no known etymology. Elide entered English in the 16th century.

    How is elide used?

    These videos slyly elide the long hours that lie between seeing how something is done and knowing how to do it. Dan Brooks, "The Pleasure of Watching Others Confront Their Own Incompetence," New York Times Magazine, May 15, 2019

    They confused her, made her angry, as though the whole middle section of her life—the part where she was supposed to grow to adulthood, bear children, be a young mother, and watch her children grow to adulthood—had simply been elided. Ruth Ozeki, All Over Creation, 2003

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, August 31, 2019

    adventitious

    adjective [ad-vuhn-tish-uhs]
    associated with something by chance rather than as an integral part; extrinsic.
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    What is the origin of adventitious?

    Adventitious comes from the Medieval Latin adjective adventītius, from Latin adventīcius “coming from without, from abroad, foreign, external, made or happening by chance, casual.” Adventīcius is a derivative of the verb advenīre “to come to, arrive at, reach” (formed from the preposition and prefix ad, ad- “to, toward” and the simple verb venīre “to come, be on the way, approach”) and the suffix -īcius, used for forming adjectives from the past participle stems of verbs (here, advent- from adventum). The zoological or botanical sense “appearing in an abnormal or unusual position or place, as a root” dates from the second half of the 17th century. Adventitious dates from the early 17th century.

    How is adventitious used?

    It is not founded on organic strength, the delicate, ennobling mark of a good endowment, of sound blood and a sound character, but is in a curious way something adventitious, accidental, perhaps even usurped or stolen. Herman Hesse, The Glass Bead Game, translated by Richard and Clara Winston, 1969

    This is exhausting, of course, but far less so than the tenor of a normal museum, which groups works by adventitious categories of period and style. Peter Schjeldahl, "Untouchable," The New Yorker, February 8, 2004

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, August 30, 2019

    banalize

    verb (used with object) [buh-nal-ahyz, -nah-lahyz, beyn-l-ahyz]
    to render or make devoid of freshness or originality; trivialize: Television has often been accused of banalizing even the most serious subjects.
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    What is the origin of banalize?

    Banalize “to render or make banal, trivialize” dates only from the mid-20th century. Banalize is a derivative of the adjective banal “lacking freshness or originality, trite, hackneyed.” Banal comes from Old French banal, banel “communal, open to the public,” from ban “public proclamation, edict, (in ecclesiastical usage) an official notice of an intended marriage, given three times in the parish church of each of the betrothed,” usually used in the plural banns or bans. In secular life, ban in feudal times meant “a summons from a lord or sovereign to a vassal to perform military service.” Any American male of a certain age who has ever received a letter personally addressed to him from The President of the United States, beginning with “Greeting:” would consider a ban like that as anything but banal.

    How is banalize used?

    Once the human tragedy has been completed, it gets turned over to the journalists to banalize into entertainment. Philip Roth, I Married a Communist, 1998

    ... these poets suffer by living in an anti-Romantic hollow, when the lyric occasion is no longer a noble and high thing, (let alone a public thing) but has been banalized and domesticated. James Wood, "Several General Conclusions," Slate, January 14, 1999

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, August 29, 2019

    wiredraw

    verb (used with object) [wahyuhr-draw]
    to strain unwarrantably, as in meaning.
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    What is the origin of wiredraw?

    The verb wiredraw, which entered English at the end of the 16th century, is a back formation from the agent noun wiredrawer, which dates from the 13th century and means—get this!—a worker whose job is to draw metal into wire (by forcibly pulling metal through holes of smaller and smaller diameter). Readers with scholarly interests will be familiar with the adjective wiredrawn “(of scholarly arguments) overrefined, overly subtle, contrived”—an occupational hazard.

    How is wiredraw used?

    He wiredraws every thing, and endeavours to misrepresent every circumstance of the story. Thomas Morgan, The Moral Philosopher, Vol. 2, 1739

    They wiredraw their arguments to such a length, that they absolutely weaken the very impression which a previous part of their speech may have produced. James Grant, The Bench and the Bar, Vol. 2, 1837

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