• Word of the day
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    Monday, June 18, 2018

    day-tripper

    noun [dey-trip-er]
    a person who goes on a trip, especially an excursion, lasting all or part of a day but not overnight.
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    What is the origin of day-tripper?

    Day-tripper has been used in English since the mid-1800s.

    How is day-tripper used?

    ... he seized on the word as if it might somehow help to plug him into German culture, rather like a day-tripper to Boulogne trying to convince himself that he has explored France. William McIlvanney, The Kiln, 1996

    Deepest mind in the galaxy, apparently, and you still express yourself like a day-tripper with a dog-eared phrase book. Anthony Lane, "Space Case," The New Yorker, May 23, 2005

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, June 17, 2018

    paragon

    noun [par-uh-gon, -guhn]
    a model or pattern of excellence or of a particular excellence: a paragon of virtue.
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    What is the origin of paragon?

    The English noun paragon comes from Middle French, from Old Italian paragone “touch stone,” a derivative of the verb paragonare “to test on a touchstone or whetstone.” The Italian words perhaps derive from Greek parakonân “to sharpen, whet,” formed from the prefix and preposition para-“beside, alongside” and akonân “to sharpen, whet,” a derivative of akónē “whetstone, bone.” Paragon entered English in the mid-16th century.

    How is paragon used?

    As that paragon of fatherhood Homer Simpson once told his brood, “Remember, as far as anyone knows, we're a nice, normal family.” Andy Simmons, "People Shared Their Funniest Family Stories and It Got Heartwarming Real Fast," Reader's Digest, April 2018

    He has variously been considered a military icon who won a total victory; a presidential model for overcoming his own considerable flaws and a tragic weakness for scoundrels to achieve fame and glory; a literary phenomenon who crafted the most famous deathbed writing in American letters; and a celebrity who was a paragon of humility and modesty. David W. Blight, "The Silent Type," New York Review of Books, May 24, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, June 16, 2018

    stanchless

    adjective [stawnch-lis, stahnch-, stanch-]
    incessant: a stanchless torrent of words.
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    What is the origin of stanchless?

    English stanchless is an awkward, uncommon word. Its meaning is obvious: “unable to be stanched.” Stanch comes from the Old French verb estanchier “to close, stop” and is probably from an unattested Vulgar Latin verb stanticāre, equivalent to Latin stant- (stem of stāns, the present participle of stāre “to stand”) and the causative suffix -icāre; stanticare means “to make stand or stop.” Stanchless entered English in the 17th century.

    How is stanchless used?

    The flow of his language was slow, but steady and apparently stanchless. Aldous Huxley, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, 1939

    The machine can only repeat, and if we repeated we should be machines and untrue to the stanchless creative mystery of the life within us. H. F. Heard, "Wingless Victories," The Great Fog and Other Weird Tales, 1944

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, June 15, 2018

    nacreous

    adjective [ney-kree-uhs]
    resembling nacre or mother-of-pearl; lustrous; pearly.
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    What is the origin of nacreous?

    The English adjective nacreous is a derivative of nacre “mother-of-pearl.” Nacre comes from Middle French nacre, from Medieval Latin nacchara, nacara, nacrum. Other Romance languages have similar forms: Old Italian nacacra, nacchera, Catalan nacre, and Spanish nácar, all meaning “mother-of-pearl.” The further origin of nacre is uncertain: the most common etymology is that it comes from Arabic naqqāra “small drum,” or from Arabic naqur "hunting horn," a derivative of the verb nakara "hollow out," from the shape of the mollusk shell that yields mother-of-pearl. Nacreous entered English in the 19th century.

    How is nacreous used?

    Nacreous pearl light swam faintly about the hem of the lilac darkness; the edges of light and darkness were stitched upon the hills. Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, 1929

    It should not have surprised them to find the angel in that preserved condition. The fingernails, nacreous as the inside of an oyster shell ... Danielle Trussoni, Angelology, 2010

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, June 14, 2018

    semaphore

    noun [sem-uh-fawr, -fohr]
    a system of signaling, especially a system by which a special flag is held in each hand and various positions of the arms indicate specific letters, numbers, etc.
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    What is the origin of semaphore?

    Semaphore came into English from French sémaphore, a device for making and transmitting signals by line of sight. From the point of view of a purist or pedant, semaphore is a malformed word. The Greek noun sêma means “mark, sign, token,” and its combining form, which should have been used in semaphore, is sēmat-, which would result in sematophore. The combining form -phore comes from the Greek combining form -phoros “carrying, bearing,” a derivative of the verb phérein “to carry, bear.” Semaphore entered English in the 19th century.

    How is semaphore used?

    The gymnasts were like the diagrams to illustrate the semaphore alphabet, arms thrust firmly out in precise positions, a flag in each hand, the little figures in naval uniform like her brother, Ben, drawn over and over. Peter Rushforth, Pinkerton's Sister, 2005

    His younger brother admired his speed and what looked like his precision, though semaphore signals were a closed book to the major. Harry Turtledove, Fort Pillow, 2006

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, June 13, 2018

    antigodlin

    adjective [an-ti-god-lin]
    lopsided or at an angle; out of alignment.
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    What is the origin of antigodlin?

    Antigodlin is an adjective used chiefly in the American South and West. The origin of the word is unclear, but it may be a combination of the familiar prefix anti- “against, opposite” and godlin or goglin, a variant pronunciation of goggling, the present participle of goggle, in the archaic sense “to squint” and originally meaning “twisted to one side, cockeyed.” The form godlin may also be reinforced by the folk etymology “against God.” Antigodlin entered English in the early 20th century.

    How is antigodlin used?

    This was moved so as to make it set, as the witness expressed it, "antigodlin." ... we suppose he meant that it was set diagonally to the window after being moved so as to permit the party to pass between the side of the box and the window. Rudolph Kleberg, "Frank Fields v. The State," The Texas Criminal Reports, Volume 61, 1911

    When the ecology of the environment is out of sorts ("anti-godlin" as my mountain neighbors might say, referring to anything that is out of balance or out of plumb or that goes against God and the laws of nature), we also see symptoms ... Thomas Rain Crowe, Zoro's Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods, 2005

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, June 12, 2018

    blamestorming

    noun [bleym-stawr-ming]
    the process of assigning blame for an outcome or situation.
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    What is the origin of blamestorming?

    Blamestorming was originally a colloquialism in American English, modeled on the much earlier (1907) brainstorming. Blamestorming entered English in the 1990s.

    How is blamestorming used?

    Unfortunately, the common behavior exhibited many businesses is to have a meeting "the morning after" for a "blamestorming" session. This is where the CEO or manager sits around with their team and figures out who is to blame for the company's latest failure. , "Are You a 'Blamestormer'?" Forbes, May 1, 2012

    And as long as we're blamestorming here, how about the developers who turned the Rollman property into McMansions in the early 1990s? B. J. Foreman, "Herd Mentality," Cincinnati, September 2009

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