Word of the Day

Thursday, October 25, 2018

dirigible

[ dir-i-juh-buh l, dih-rij-uh- ]

noun

an airship.

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What is the origin of dirigible?

Dirigible is a shortening of “dirigible balloon,” a translation of the French ballon dirigeable “steerable balloon.” Dirigible and dirigeable are derivatives of the Latin verb dīrigere “to guide, align, straighten” and the common suffix -ible “capable of, fit for.” Dirigible in its literal sense “capable of being directed” dates from the late 16th century; the sense referring to the balloon or airship dates from the late 19th century.

how is dirigible used?

With gas cells collapsing, framework breaking up, and controls out of order, the great dirigible had reared and plunged and finally had fallen 3,000 feet into the Pacific.

Edwin Teale, "Does Latest Disaster Spell Doom for the Dirigible?" Popular Science Monthly, May 1935

Being up in that tower was like being in a dirigible above the clouds.

Umberto Eco, "The Gorge," The New Yorker, March 7, 2005
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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

moonstruck

[ moon-struhk ]

adjective

dreamily romantic or bemused.

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What is the origin of moonstruck?

The original sense of moonstruck, “mentally deranged, insane,” first appears in Paradise Lost (1667) by John Milton (1608–74). Milton was astonishingly learned: he wrote poetry in Latin, Greek, and Italian; he translated Psalm 114 from Hebrew into Greek verse; he was a polemicist (or propagandist) for the English general, Puritan statesman, and Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. Moonstruck is probably Milton’s own creation, a translation from Greek selēnóblētos “moonstruck, epileptic,” a compound of selḗnē “moon” and blētós “stricken, stricken with palsy,” a past participle of bállein ”to throw, hit (with a missile).” The sense of “dreamily romantic” dates from the mid-19th century.

how is moonstruck used?

He wanted to see her … Otherwise he wouldn’t have waited for nearly an hour like some moonstruck schoolboy and worried all the while about the reception he would receive.

Matt Braun, Indian Territory, 1985

The sonata was originally given the name that’s on your music. But an author renamed it the Moonlight Sonata. I like that name very much. … Because it’s music for a moonstruck man.

Herbjørg Wassmo, Dina's Book, translated by Nadia M. Christensen, 1994
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

hooly

[ hoo-lee, hy-lee ]

adverb

Scot. cautiously; gently.

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What is the origin of hooly?

Hooly in Scottish English is an adjective and adverb meaning “slow, cautious; slowly, cautiously.” It comes from Middle English hōly, from Old Norse hófligr “moderate” or its adverb hófliga “moderately,” derived from the noun hóf “moderation.” Hooly often forms part of the phrase hooly and fairly (fairly meaning “gently, softly, steadily, cautiously”). Hooly entered English in the 14th century.

how is hooly used?

Just to look that their tackle does not graze on the face o’ the crag, and to let the chair down, and draw it up hoolly and fairly–we will halloo when we are ready.

Sir Walter Scott, The Antiquary, 1816

Yet love is kittle and unruly, / And shou’d move tentily and hooly

Allan Ramsay, "To Robert Yarde of Devonshire," 1725
Monday, October 22, 2018

barnstorm

[ bahrn-stawrm ]

verb

to conduct a campaign or speaking tour in rural areas by making brief stops in many small towns.

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What is the origin of barnstorm?

The original sense of barnstorm, the theater sense, “to tour small towns and rural areas (often in barns),” dates from the second half of the 19th century. The political or campaigning sense “to conduct a speaking tour in rural areas by making brief stops in small towns,” and the professional sports sense “to tour an area playing exhibition games after the regular season” date from the end of the 19th century. The flying or piloting sense “to give exhibitions of stunt flying, participate in airplane races, etc., while touring country towns and rural areas” dates from the first half of the 20th century.

how is barnstorm used?

President Trump and Vice President Pence are barnstorming swing states with 68 days to go before the midterm elections.

Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger, "The Hill's Morning Report -- Trump, Pence barnstorm swing states," The Hill, August 30, 2018

… Mr. Frotman barnstormed the country to encourage state officials to scrutinize the companies that are contracted by the department to manage the loan portfolio, collect debt from students and work out payment plans with delinquent borrowers.

Glenn Thrush, "After Scaling Back Student Loan Regulations, Administration Tries to Stop State Efforts," New York Times, September 6, 2018
Sunday, October 21, 2018

humdinger

[ huhm-ding-er ]

noun

Informal. a person, thing, action, or statement of remarkable excellence or effect.

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What is the origin of humdinger?

The origin of humdinger is speculative. It was originally American slang, first appearing in print at the beginning of the 20th century and in British English about 1926.

how is humdinger used?

… Beethoven gave the Viennese a humdinger, something to make them sit up and take notice.

Michael Steinberg, The Concerto: A Listener's Guide, 1998

Streep, whose speeches are perfect, delivered a humdinger of a tribute to Emma Thompson, who was receiving the best-actress honor, for “Saving Mr. Banks.”

Michael Schulman, "Meryl Streep Pokes Back at Male Hollywood," The New Yorker, January 9, 2014
Saturday, October 20, 2018

single-hearted

[ sing-guhl-hahr-tid ]

adjective

sincere and undivided in feeling or spirit; dedicated; not reflecting mixed emotions: He was single-hearted in his patriotism.

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What is the origin of single-hearted?

Single-hearted was first recorded in 1570–80.

how is single-hearted used?

Whatever becomes of me, I shall remember always this single-hearted devotion of yours, Margaret, and I shall thank God that I know of it and love you for it.

Edward Boltwood, "The Touchstone," The Smart Set, May 1910

… one gets what one goes after with single-hearted purpose, but otherwise not.

Anya Seton, The Turquoise, 1946
Friday, October 19, 2018

ploce

[ ploh-see ]

noun

Rhetoric. the repetition of a word or phrase to gain special emphasis or to indicate an extension of meaning, as in Ex. 3:14: “I am that I am.”

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What is the origin of ploce?

The uncommon English rhetorical term ploce comes via Late Latin plocē from Greek plokḗ, a noun with many meanings: “twining, twisting, braid; complication (of a dramatic plot); construction (of a syllogism); web, web of deceit; (in biology) histological structure; (in rhetoric) repetition of the same word in close succession in a slightly different sense or for emphasis” (e.g., “A man should act like a man”). Greek plokḗ comes from the verb plékein “to weave, braid, twine,” from the Proto-Indo-European root plek-, plok-, source of Latin plicāre “to fold, bend, roll, twine” and the combining form -plex, used in forming numerals, e.g. simplex, duplex, triplex (equivalent to English -fold). The Proto-Indo-European neuter noun ploksom becomes flahsam in Germanic and flax in English. In Slavic (Polish), plek- forms the verb pleść “to plait, weave.” Ploce entered English in the 16th century.

how is ploce used?

Ploce is the repetition of the same word under different forms or with different meanings in the same sentence…. as–“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

James De Mille, The Elements of Rhetoric, 1878

There he found examples of such figures or tropes as synechdoche, metonymy, meiosis, amplification, ploce, polyptoton, etc., all designed to enhance the style of the would-be poet and preacher.

Donald E. Stanford, "Edward Taylor," Major Writers of Early American Literature, 1976

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