Word of the Day

Saturday, September 29, 2018

diapason

[ dahy-uh-pey-zuhn, -suhn ]

noun

Music. a full, rich outpouring of melodious sound.

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What is the origin of diapason?

The English noun diapason comes from the Latin noun diapāsōn “musical interval of the octave,” extracted from the Greek phrase dià pāsôn (chordôn) “through all (the notes),” from the full phrase hē dià pāsôn chordôn symphōnía “the concord through all the notes of the scale.” Diapason entered English in the 14th century.

how is diapason used?

… and from the dell below rose in the night, now the monotonous chanting of the frogs, and now, as some great bull-frog took the note, a diapason worthy of a Brescian organ.

Stanley J. Weyman, Count Hannibal, 1901

… [Harley] concluded a speech which, for popular effect, had never been equalled in that hall, amidst a diapason of cheers that threatened to bring down the rafters.

Edward Bulwer Lytton, My Novel; or, Varieties in English Life, 1853

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Friday, September 28, 2018

applesauce

[ ap-uhl-saws ]

noun

Slang. nonsense; bunk.

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What is the origin of applesauce?

Applesauce is a straightforward compound noun. The original sense is first recorded in the 17th century. The American slang term first appears in Ring Lardner (1885–1933) and then in the novel Appointment in Samarra (1934) by John O’Hara (1905–70).

how is applesauce used?

Nonsense! Fiddlesticks! Baloney! Phoo! Poo! Poppycock! Bah! Twaddle! Don’t be silly! My eye! In your hat! That’s pure applesauce!

Dean Koontz, Life Expectancy, 2004

The opinion offers several new candidates for a master list of Scalia’s best turns-of-phrase, which should be published as a book as far as we are concerned. One example: the majority’s reasoning? “Pure applesauce,” he wrote.

Elise Viebeck, "Scalia on King ruling: 'Pure applesauce'," Washington Post, June 25, 2015
Thursday, September 27, 2018

gnathonic

[ na-thon-ik ]

adjective

sycophantic; fawning.

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What is the origin of gnathonic?

The English adjective gnathonic comes from Latin gnathōnicus, an adjective derivative of Gnathō (inflectional stem Gnathōn-), the name of a sycophant and parasite in Eunuchus, a comedy by the Latin playwright Terence (Publius Terentius Afer, c190–c159 b.c.). Terence also coined the derivative plural noun Gnathōnicī “disciples of Gnatho” as a comic general term for sycophants and parasites. Gnathonic entered English in the 17th century.

how is gnathonic used?

That Jack’s is somewhat of a gnathonic and parasitic soul, or stomach, all Bideford apple-women know …

Charles Kingsley, Westward Ho!, 1855

… Pandarus is not unlike familiar gnathonic persons who attach themselves to their betters, as he does both in his defense of Paris ad in his eagerness to satisfy the appetities [sic] of his prince.

D. W. Robertson Jr., "The Probable Date and Purpose of Chaucer's Troilus," Medievalia et Humanistica, No. 13, 1985
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

blellum

[ blel-uhm ]

noun

Scot. Obsolete. an idle, indiscreet talker.

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What is the origin of blellum?

Not only does blellum not have an etymology, it has very few citations. One of which is in the poem Tam o’Shanter (1790) by Robert Burns (1759–96); so it’s a keeper.

how is blellum used?

A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum

Robert Burns, "Tam o' Shanter," The Edinburgh Herald, March 18, 1791

How was ye to foresee that Mr. Manners was a blellum?

Winston Churchill, Richard Carvel, 1899
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

toyetic

[ taw-yet-ik ]

adjective

(of a character or object from a movie, TV show, etc.) potentially marketable as a toy: a toyetic superhero.

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What is the origin of toyetic?

Toyetic, an obvious composition of toy and the adjective suffix -etic, was supposedly coined by the American toy developer and marketer Bernard Loomis (1923–2006) in a conversation with Steven Spielberg about making figures based on Spielberg’s movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

how is toyetic used?

There’s a singular pleasure that comes with holding a Star Wars toy. The film’s vehicles, weapons, heroes, and villains, after all, are uniquely “toyetic” …

Melissa Leon, "How 'Star Wars' Revolutionized the Toy Industry," The Daily Beast, January 1, 2018

It adds another powerhouse toyetic property to their portfolio, with a proven track record of success.

Rob Salkowitz, "Hasbro Powers Up, Acquiring Power Rangers From Saban For $522 Million," Forbes, May 1, 2018
Monday, September 24, 2018

sibilate

[ sib-uh-leyt ]

verb

to utter or pronounce with a hissing sound.

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What is the origin of sibilate?

Sibilate comes from Latin sībilātus, past participle of the verb sībilāre “to hiss, hiss in disapproval.” From sībilant-, the present participle stem of sībilāre, English has the noun and adjective sibilant, used in phonetics in reference to hissing sounds like s or z. Sibilate entered English in the 17th century.

how is sibilate used?

It may be that there is some mysterious significance in the pitch at which an idea is vocalized; but, as for this writer, we doubt if it makes any difference whether he sibilates his opinions to himself in half-suppressed demi-semiquavers, or roars them to the world through a fog-trumpet–their obliquity may safely be assumed as a constant quantity.

E. L. Youmans, "Herbert Spencer's Sociology," Appletons' Journal, February 21, 1874

“I’ve been in for twenty years,” he sibilates in my ear.

Kevin Dutton, The Wisdom of Psychopaths, 2012
Sunday, September 23, 2018

legerdemain

[ lej-er-duh-meyn ]

noun

trickery; deception.

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What is the origin of legerdemain?

There are about 50 spellings in Middle English for (modern) legerdemain. The English word most likely comes from a Middle French phrase leger de main “light of hand,” which is unfortunately unrecorded. Middle French has two similar idioms meaning “to be dexterous”: estre ligier de sa main, literally “to be light of his hand” and avoir la main legiere, literally “to have the light hand.” In English, legerdemain first meant “skill in conjuring, sleight of hand” and acquired the sense “trickery, artful deception” in the 16th century. Legerdemain entered English in the 15th century.

how is legerdemain used?

… it was precisely that sort of legerdemain—tapping a dicey loan with the magic wand of financialization—which built the mortgage-securitization industry to begin with.

Tad Friend, "Home Economics," The New Yorker, February 4, 2013

The city today stretches out along the flatlands by the Fyris River, then ripples up a glacial ridge, culminating in a massive sixteenth-century castle painted the color of a poached salmon—a bit of legerdemain by pigment that leavens the bulky fortress considerably.

Emily Hiestand, "The Constant Gardener," The Atlantic, March 2007

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