verb (used with object)
to remove the ambiguity from; make unambiguous.
Disambiguate “to remove the ambiguity from” is based on the adjective ambiguous “open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations,” plus the affixes dis-, indicating reversal, and -ate, indicating a verb. Ambiguous, from Latin ambiguus, is derived from the verb ambigere “to dispute, contend,” which is a compound of the prefix ambi- “both” and the verb agere “to do, drive.” Ambi- crops up in English terms such as ambidextrous (literally “both right-handed”), ambient (“going both (directions)”), ambivalent (“both strong”), and past Word of the Day ambivert (“turned both ways”). Agere is a rather productive verb with numerous stems: ag- appears in agenda, agent, and agile; -ig- is found in litigate, navigate, and castigate and its synonym past Word of the Day fustigate; and finally act- is found in action, activity, and exact. Disambiguate was first recorded in English in the early 1960s.
When emoji appear with text, they often supplement or enhance the writing. This is similar to gestures that appear along with speech. Over the past three decades, research has shown that our hands provide important information that often transcends and clarifies the message in speech. Emoji serve this function too– or instance, adding a kissy or winking face can disambiguate whether a statement is flirtatiously teasing or just plain mean.
Some people think nothing of highlighting inconsistent punctuation wherever they might see it, however innocuous or irrelevant it might be (apostrophes rarely actually disambiguate–after all, we get along fine without them in speech). Never mind that it’s a handwritten notice in a shop window, written by someone for whom English is a second (or third, or fourth) language. Never mind that it’s a leaflet touting for work from someone who didn’t get the chance to complete their education. They need to be corrected and/or posted online for others to see. Otherwise, how will anybody learn?
a two-step, especially one done to Latin American rhythms.
Paso doble “a two-step” is a loanword from Spanish, in which the term means “double step.” Spanish doble and English double are clear cognates—both derive from Latin duplus (literally “two more”) or duplex (literally “twofold”)—while paso is a cognate of English pace and pass, and all three derive from the Latin noun passus “step.” Passus also serves as the past participle of the verb pandere “to spread,” which is the source of English words such as expand. While Spanish simply uses no to mean “no” or “not,” its sister language French uses the phrase ne…pas, which literally means “not a step” and descends from Latin nec passum. Paso doble was first recorded in English in the late 1920s.
At another juncture of the concert, an energetic tune suddenly unfolds into a pasodoble, which since the 1960s has become a standard during Venezuelan celebrations—aptly titled “Música de fiesta” (Party music) …. The tune is particularly appealing to the audience, now on its feet and in motion.
I left the radio on by his bed, I even called to request a song to entertain him, a paso doble which is what he liked to dance at the firemen’s balls when he was single, until I finally went lame like this from a stomping he gave me in the dance contest the first Sunday of Lent, when he yelled Olé and came down with his heel right on my bunion…
a heavy, one-edged sword, usually slightly curved, used especially by cavalry.
Saber “a heavy, one-edged sword” is a borrowing of French sabre, earlier sable, from German Sabel (modern Säbel). Prior to German, the term either passed through a Slavic intermediary such as Polish szabla or came directly from Hungarian szablya. Note that the sz consonant pair is pronounced as “sh” in Polish but simply as “s” in Hungarian, and the Hungarian letter pair ly is pronounced as simply “y” as in “yes.” Though the ultimate source of szablya is uncertain, the prevailing theory is an origin in a Tungusic language; compare sele “iron” and seleme “dagger” in Manchu, an endangered language in Manchuria. The languages of the Tungusic family are predominantly spoken in Siberia, with a few members spoken in northern China. Although efforts have been made to connect the Tungusic languages to the Mongolic and Turkic families (as we learned from the recent Word of the Day yurt), and even to Japanese and Korean, any relationship among these families is inconclusive. Saber was first recorded in English in the 1670s.
Knocking off the top of a Champagne bottle with a saber—known as sabrage—is an old rite in Europe, and a novel addition to American celebrations. But there’s an art to doing it right …. “Apparently, this started in the time of Napoleon when there were wars all through the Champagne region. And the soldiers would come and grab a bottle of Champagne while they were on horseback; they would just take their saber and knock the top and drink it down,” [Becky Sue Epstein, author of Champagne: A Global History] says.
The other boys showed off their lead toy soldiers, their bicycles. We showed my father’s saber, which we took down secretly in the dark sitting room among the furniture covered in dust sheets. Compared to his saber, the security guard’s machete was a mere penknife. This (my unfeeling hand slides over the surface, divested of weight and consistency) was our town’s most precious emblem.
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