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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Friday, June 12, 2020

panivorous

[ pa-niv-er-uhs ]

adjective

subsisting on bread; bread-eating.

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What is the origin of panivorous?

The English adjective panivorous “bread-eating” comes from the Latin noun pānis (inflectional stem pāni-) “bread” and the Latin combining form -vorus “devouring,” a derivative of the verb vorāre “to eat up, devour” (pānivorus does not occur in Latin).

how is panivorous used?

I ate it toasted for breakfast and took it to school as the foundation of my lunch sandwich. An equivocal frisson traversed my now infinitely more sophisticated panivorous spirit when I read that Wonder Bread’s parent company filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Steven L. Kaplan, "Introduction," The Stakes of Regulation: Perspectivees on Bread, Politics and Political Economy Forty Years Later, 2015

the people who persevered in their panivorous propensities, accused the emperor of selling our corn to the English.

Joseph Fouché, Memoirs of Joseph Fouché, translated from French, 1825

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

klatsch

[ klahch, klach ]

noun

a casual gathering of people, especially for refreshments and informal conversation: a sewing klatsch.

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What is the origin of klatsch?

You usually associate klatsch “a casual party” with coffee klatsch “a casual gathering for gossiping and drinking coffee.” Coffee klatsch is a partial rendering of German Kaffeeklatsch (in English kaffee klatsch or kaffee klatch). Coffee and Kaffee need no explanation. Klatsch is informal German for “gossip, gossiping,” from the verb klatschen, of imitative origin. In German Klatsch also means “a slap, a crack (as of a bat), a clap (of the hands).” Klatsch (klatch) entered English in the 1950s.

how is klatsch used?

Maybe they didn’t have anything in common and that was the point, was the thing that made the klatsch interesting, hearing the various perspectives people had.

Sam Savage, "Klatsch," An Orphanage of Dreams, 2019

At coffee-break time, Billy made a nice addition to our little klatsch.

Jim Windolf, "My Associate," The New Yorker, May 7, 2001

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

skulduggery

[ skuhl-duhg-uh-ree ]

noun

dishonorable proceedings; mean dishonesty or trickery: bribery, graft, and other such skulduggery.

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What is the origin of skulduggery?

Skulduggery was originally an Americanism, a variant of Scottish sculduddery “fornication, lewd conduct, obscenity.” In American usage, skulduggery has cleaned up its act and means only “dishonorable dealings, trickery.” Neither sculduddery nor skulduggery has a reliable etymology. Sculduddery entered English in the first half of the 18th century, skullduggery in the second half.

how is skulduggery used?

corporate malfeasance is too often hidden in quarterly reports and harder for most people to follow. Political skulduggery is done in the open—and on C-Span—and is easier to portray.

Alessandra Stanley, "Pol Watchers: Everyone's a Bad Guy," New York Times, April 11, 2013

the club was a renowned haunt of maverick sea captains, wily eccentrics, and semi-alcoholic miscreants up to their necks in all manner of skulduggery.

Jason Lewis, The Seed Buried Deep, 2014

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Tuesday, June 09, 2020

osmatic

[ oz-mat-ik ]

adjective

of or relating to the sense of smell.

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What is the origin of osmatic?

Osmatic, “relating to the sense of smell or to animals with a keen sense of smell,” is a borrowing from French osmatique, which was coined by the 19th-century French surgeon and anthropologist Paul Broca in 1878. Osmatique derives from the Greek noun osmḗ (also odmḗ) “smell, odor, scent” and the French adjectival suffix -atique, from the same source as the English suffix –atic. Osmḗ is the classical Attic form of earlier and dialectal odmḗ, from a root od- “to smell” and is closely related to Latin odor “a smell, odor, whiff, hint.” Osmatic entered English in 1880.

how is osmatic used?

Each of our senses diminish their acuity at a slightly different rate as we fall off to sleep. Our auditive, osmatic, thermal, and tactile responses become seemingly dormant …

Richard Neutra, Nature Near: The Late Essays of Richard Neutra, 1989

Osmatic messages permit recognition of others as individuals or as members of a social category, or signal a certain emotional state.

Guy Ankerl, Experimental Sociology of Architecture, 1981

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