Word of the Day

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Disneyfy

[ diz-nee-fahy, -ni- ]

verb

to create or alter in a simplified, sentimentalized, or contrived form or manner: museums that have become Disneyfied to attract more visitors.

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What is the origin of Disneyfy?

Disneyfy is an Americanism formed from the name of Walt Disney, the cartoonist and moviemaker (1901-66), and the familiar verb suffix -fy. Disneyfy entered English in the second half of the 20th century.

how is Disneyfy used?

In North America we tend to Disneyfy the past into this sugar-coated nostalgia product, all bonnets and merry sleigh rides …

Emma Donoghue, Landing, 2007

… Dad says you have to look at animals as they are, not Disney-fy them.

Rosamund Lupton, The Quality of Silence, 2015
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Wednesday, June 06, 2018

superluminal

[ soo-per-loo-muh-nl ]

adjective

Astronomy. appearing to travel faster than the speed of light.

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What is the origin of superluminal?

One of the Latin sources for the English adjective superluminal “faster than the speed of light” is the very familiar prefix and preposition super- “above, beyond.” The second Latin source is the adjective lūminōsus “filled with light, dazzling, luminous” a derivative of the noun lūmen “light, radiance,” from an assumed leuksmen or louksmen, a derivative of the root noun lux (stem luc-) “light.” The same root, leuk- (and its variant louk-) lies behind the Latin noun lūna “moon,” from an assumed louksnā. Superluminal entered English in the 20th century.

how is superluminal used?

But what if the spaceship breaks the speed of light? Now, we are entering the purely theoretical realm of superluminal travel. The spaceship is outracing the light it emits, so when the spaceship takes off, it leaves its own light in the space-dust.

David Russell, "Can You Really Go Back in Time by Breaking the Speed of Light?" PBS, August 17, 2015

The Alderson Drive gave us access to the stars at superluminal speeds–but not instantaneous transportation.

Jerry Pournelle and S. M. Stirling, Go Tell the Spartans, 1991
Tuesday, June 05, 2018

schlimazel

[ shli-mah-zuhl ]

noun

Slang. an inept, bungling person who suffers from unremitting bad luck.

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What is the origin of schlimazel?

The old joke goes, “A schlemiel is someone who spills soup in a restaurant; a schlimazel is the guy he spills the soup on.” The first element of schlimazel comes from the Yiddish adjective schlim “bad, evil,” equivalent to German schlimm, Dutch slim “bad, sly, clever”(the Dutch word is the source of English slim). The second element, -mazel comes from Yiddish mazl “luck,” from Hebrew mazzāl “(celestial) constellation, destiny.” Schlimazel entered English in the mid-20th century.

how is schlimazel used?

… the schlemiel is the one who spills the soup and the schlimazel is the one that’s spilled on.

Jeremy Dauber, Jewish Comedy: A Serious History, 2017

A recent and, even by its own lofty standards, especially hilarious and cringingly tasteless episode of “South Park” features the passionate and petulant schlimazel, middle-aged dad Randy Marsh, watching TV, when a commercial for a fictional consumer genetics company comes on the screen.

Misha Angrist, "A History of Humanity Told Through Genetics," New York Times, November 17, 2017

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