Word of the Day

Monday, June 15, 2020

dilly

[ dil-ee ]

noun

Informal.

something or someone regarded as remarkable, unusual, etc.: a dilly of a movie.

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What is the origin of dilly?

The noun and adjective dilly, like many slang terms, has an obscure etymology. One etymology is that dilly is an alteration of delightful or delicious; the suffix –y is either the native English adjective suffix –y (as in juicy), or the originally Scottish noun suffix –y (as in granny). Dilly was originally an Americanism, first appearing in print in the early 20th century.

how is dilly used?

It would be a dilly of a painting.

Susan Vreeland, The Forest Lover, 2004

The two big numbers, and they were dillies, were “La Toilette de la Cour” by Anthony Philip Heinrich, and Albert Gehring’s “The Soul of Chopin.”

Harold C. Schonberg, "Tidbits of Forgotten Music Evoke an American Past," New York Times, May 25, 1973

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Sunday, June 14, 2020

Samaritan

[ suh-mar-i-tn ]

noun

one who is compassionate and helpful to a person in distress.

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What is the origin of Samaritan?

Samaritan as an adjective means “pertaining to Samaria or the Samaritans”; as a noun, it means “a native or inhabitant of Samaria.” Most commonly, however, Samaritan is short for Good Samaritan, after Jesus’ parable in Luke 10:30-37. Samaritan comes from the Late Latin adjective Samarītānus “Samaritan” (used as a noun in the masculine plural), from the Greek noun Samarī́tēs “a Samaritan,” a derivative of Samareía, the name of a city and region in Palestine. Greek Samareía comes from Aramaic Shamerayin, from Hebrew Shōmərôn, of uncertain meaning, but possibly from Shemer, the owner who sold Shōmərôn to Omri, king of Israel, in 1 Kings 16:24. Samaritan entered English before 1000.

how is Samaritan used?

That night, they slept in a good Samaritan‘s home, washed dirty laundry, and showered for the first time since leaving home.

Lourdes Medrano, "Border Crisis from the other side: One Guatemalan mother's journey," Christian Science Monitor, October 5, 2014

Kids want to counteract inequality, to be good samaritans and help the little guy.

Alia Wong, "The Preschooler's Empathy Void," The Atlantic, November 2, 2016

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Saturday, June 13, 2020

stridulate

[ strij-uh-leyt ]

verb (used without object)

to produce a shrill, grating sound, as a cricket does, by rubbing together certain parts of the body.

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What is the origin of stridulate?

The English verb stridulate, “to produce a shrill, grating sound like that of a cricket,” is an English derivative of the English noun stridulation, which comes from French stridulation. The French noun is a derivative of the New Latin verb strīdulāre “to produce a shrill, grating sound,” a derivation of the classical Latin adjective strīdulus, itself a derivation of the noun strīdor “a high-pitched sound.” Strīdere, the classical Latin equivalent of New Latin strīdulāre, is related to Greek trízein “to buzz, squeak,” and a little farther out of town, to Tocharian A trisk– “to drone” (Tocharian is the group name for two or three related Indo-European languages, now extinct, spoken in what is now Chinese Turkestan). The Latin, Greek, and Tocharian forms derive from the onomatopoeic Proto-Indo-European root (s)trei– “to buzz, hiss.” Strīdere and trízein are related to Greek strínx, stríx (stem stríng-, stríg-) “owl, night raven,” and to Latin strix (stem strig-) “an owl, bird of ill omen, evil spirit, vampire.” Either Latin strig– or Greek stríg– was the source of Vulgar Latin striga “evil spirit, witch, hag,” which becomes strega “witch” in modern Italian, as in the late Tomie DePaola’s series of wonderful children’s books “starring” Strega Nona, “Granny Witch.” Stridulate entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is stridulate used?

To stridulate, or chirr, one of the minor achievements of the cricket, your species is dependent on the intestines of the sheep and the hair of the horse.

James Thurber, "Interview with a Lemming," My World—And Welcome To It, 1942

Even so most often does the singing insect stridulate: it is celebrating life.

J. Henri Fabre, The Life of the Grasshopper, translated by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, 1917

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