Word of the Day

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

definiendum

[ dih-fin-ee-en-duhm ]

noun

something that is or is to be defined, especially the term at the head of a dictionary entry.

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What is the origin of definiendum?

Definiendum comes straight from Latin dēfīniendum “to be defined.” In Latin grammar, dēfīniendum is a gerundive, a kind of verbal adjective showing, among other things, obligation or necessity. Dēfīniendum derives from the verb dēfīnīre “to fix the limits of, bound, define,” a compound of the preposition and intensive prefix , – and the simple verb fīnīre “to mark out or form the boundaries of,” a derivative of the noun fīnis “boundary (of a territory).” Definiendum is a technical term used in lexicography and logic. A similar gerundive, demonstrandum “to be demonstrated,” appears in Q.E.D., an abbreviation of quod erat dēmonstrandum, “what was to be demonstrated,” used at the end of a proof in geometry. Definiendum entered English in the second half of the 19th century.

how is definiendum used?

Discussions of definition distinguish between the definiendum (the word or phrase that is to be defined) and the definiens (the word of phrase that is used to define it).

Patrick Hanks, "Definition," The Oxford Handbook of Lexicography, 2016

Don’t make the definiens technical or subtle if the definiendum is not technical or subtle.

Andrew Woodfield, Teleology, 1976
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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

canting

[ kan-ting ]

adjective

affectedly or hypocritically pious or righteous: a canting social reformer.

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What is the origin of canting?

Canting comes from one of the senses of the verb cant, “to talk hypocritically or with affected piety.” One of the famed lexicographer Samuel Johnson’s five senses for cant is “A whining pretension to goodness, in formal and affected terms.” Cant and canting ultimately come from Latin cantāre “to sing.” Cantāre and its derivatives such as cantus “song, chant, chanting” were used contemptuously in Medieval Latin for perfunctory and lackluster liturgical chanting of the hours. In English by the first half of the 18th century, cant also meant “the singsong whining or chants of beggars; the phraseology peculiar to a particular class, party, or profession,” and “insincere, conventional expressions of enthusiasm for high ideals, goodness, or piety.” Canting entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is canting used?

He’s a villain in disguise; that’s my opinion of him. A low, canting hypocrite.

T. S. Arthur, True Riches; or, Wealth Without Wings, 1852

While conducting a petty, politically motivated trial and listening to a canting, ideological prosecutor, she looks bored and casts her glance aside.

Richard Brody, "The Distasteful Vagueness of 'Ida'," The New Yorker, May 9, 2014
Monday, January 27, 2020

fettle

[ fet-l ]

noun

state; condition: in fine fettle.

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What is the origin of fettle?

The noun fettle is found most often in the stock phrase in fine fettle “in a good state or condition.” Fettle is originally a British dialect word (Lancashire in northwest England), a verb meaning “to shape, prepare, fix, arrange.” Further origin is obscure: fettle may come from Middle English fetlen (fetelen, fatelen, fitelen) “to shape, fix, put, bestow” and be related to the Old English words fetian “to fetch, bring to, marry,” fæt “cup, vessel, vat,” and feter “fetter.” Or fettle may be related to the Old English noun fetel “belt, girdle.” The sense “to shape, prepare” entered English in the 14th century; the metallurgical and ceramics senses entered English in the second half of the 19th century; the sense “state or condition” in the mid-18th century.

how is fettle used?

Bernie Sanders was, as usual, in fighting fettle.

David A. Graham, "Is Sanders Writing Off South Carolina?" The Atlantic, February 22, 2016

Mathilde was in fine fettle. The month in Venice had healed all the wounds.

Irving Stone, The Passions of the Mind, 1971

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