Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, November 12, 2021

dojo

[ doh-joh ]

noun

a school or practice hall where karate, judo, or other martial arts are taught.

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What is the origin of dojo?

Dojo “a school or practice hall where martial arts are taught” is a direct borrowing from Japanese dōjō “drill hall, Buddhist seminary.” Dōjō, in turn, follows a familiar trajectory from Middle Chinese, which is the source of hundreds of words that were exported to Japan, Korea, and Vietnam; dōjō derives from a Middle Chinese compound literally translated as “way place” or “place of the ways” (compare Mandarin dàochǎng), which originated as a transliteration of Sanskrit bodhi-maṇḍa “seat of wisdom.” This Sanskrit term is one of numerous Buddhism-related words that traveled across Asia and became part of the Japanese language, as we learned in the recent Word of the Day podcast about satori. Dojo was first recorded in English in the early 1940s.

how is dojo used?

On Wednesday, as preparations continued for the start of the Olympic judo competition on Saturday, buses arrived at regular intervals to disgorge groups of competitors in front of a set of unremarkable doors. Once they removed their shoes and took a few steps inside, however, it quickly became clear that they were entering a special place. Soon they fanned out across several floors and limbered up inside spartan dojos infused with a fragrance emanating from the pinewood walls.

Tariq Panja, “‘It’s Like Mecca for Judo,’” The New York Times, July 22, 2021

The four-time Venezuelan youth karate champion [Ricardo Perez] was upset when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of international tournaments in El Salvador, Bolivia and Mexico that he had been preparing for. But his family quickly turned the home into a full-time karate gym, or “dojo”, rearranging furniture to leave a tatami mat in the center of their living space where he works out and also leads classes via Zoom for children and other youth athletes.

Manaure Quintero, “In quarantined Venezuela, karate champion takes training to living room,” Reuters, May 15, 2020

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Word of the day

Thursday, November 11, 2021

curlicue

[ kur-li-kyoo ]

noun

an ornamental, fancy curl or twist, as in a signature.

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What is the origin of curlicue?

Curlicue “an ornamental, fancy curl or twist” is a compound of the adjective curly and the noun cue. Curly, from the verb curl, appears in Middle English as crulled “curled” and is either derived from or related to Middle Dutch crul “curl,” of Germanic origin and related to the name of the rolled pastry cruller. The -ru- of crul became the -ur- of curl as the result of metathesis, a linguistic phenomenon in which sounds switch places. Metathesis is also responsible for creating third, thirteen, and thirty from Old English thridda, thrēotēne, and thrītig. The cue part of curlicue is most likely from French queue “tail,” via Old French from Latin cauda or cōda “tail,” which we discussed in the recent Word of the Day podcast about codicil. Alternatively, this cue could be in reference to the letter Q and its easily identifiable loops when written in cursive. Curlicue was first recorded in English circa 1840.

how is curlicue used?

Armenia is one of the few countries in the world with its own alphabet—invented in the fifth century by St. Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist. The curved letters are full of loops and curlicues, reminiscent of Ethiopia’s Amharic, … although researchers say there is no connection.

Malaka Gharib, “Why Writing The Word ‘Freedom’ Is More Powerful Than Typing It,” NPR, July 3, 2018

The book is also very much a celebration of Cass [Elliott]’s beauty and her music, which often intertwine visually by way of [Pénélope] Bagieu’s curlicue lines and handwritten text, as when the familiar lyrics “Allll the leaves are brown … ” swirl together with cigarette smoke.

Meg Lemke, "Dream a Little Dream of Me: An Interview with Pénélope Bagieu," Paris Review, March 28, 2017

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Word of the day

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

crapulous

[ krap-yuh-luhs ]

adjective

given to or characterized by gross excess in drinking or eating.

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What is the origin of crapulous?

Crapulous “characterized by gross excess in drinking or eating” derives from Late Latin crāpulōsus “inclined to drunkenness,” from Latin crāpula “drunkenness,” either derived from or related to Ancient Greek kraipálē “drunkenness, hangover.” A common misconception is that crapulous is connected to a certain word for “excrement,” but the resemblance between these two words is a happy coincidence. While crapulous has a clear history, the more colorful term crap is in fact of uncertain origin—perhaps from Middle Dutch krappe “something cut off or separated,” perhaps via Old French from a Frankish cognate of English scrape, perhaps from Medieval Latin crappa “chaff,” or perhaps related to English crop. Crapulous was first recorded in English in the 1530s.

how is crapulous used?

Much wine was drunk and all pretenses of table manners were soon discarded. Leon and [Vivian] planted their elbows on the table and slurped the chicken from the bones with noisy, lustful abandon …. refilling one another’s wineglasses with increasing frequency throughout the meal, uncorking one bottle of wine after another, often uncorking another bottle even before the previous had been depleted of its contents .… Both of them ate and drank to bubbling crapulous excess.

Benjamin Hale, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, 2011

Fettes was an old drunken Scotchman, a man of education obviously, and a man of some property, since he lived in idleness. He had come to Debenham years ago, while still young, and by a mere continuance of living had grown to be an adopted townsman …. His place in the parlour at the George, his absence from church, his old, crapulous, disreputable vices, were all things of course in Debenham.

Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Body-Snatcher,” Tales and Fantasies, 1905

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