Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

donnish

[ don-ish ]

adjective

bookish; pedantic.

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What is the origin of donnish?

The adjective donnish “bookish, pedantic” is a derivative of the Oxbridge term don “a head, fellow, or tutor of a college.” The English noun comes from the Spanish title of respect Don prefixed to a man’s name, as Don Quixote. Spanish don, Portuguese dom ultimately come from Late Latin domnus, a shortening of Latin dominus “lord, master.” Domnus is also the source of Italian Donno, usually reduced to Don, a title of respect for a man, such as Don Corleone.

Latin domina “mistress (of a household), lady (of the imperial family)” is the feminine of dominus, and the source of French and English dame, Spanish doña, Portuguese dona, and Italian donna “woman, lady of the house” and Madonna, literally “my lady,” not only a title of the Virgin Mary, but also a respectful form of address equivalent to French madame. In medieval Florence Madonna was shortened to Mona “Ma’am,” an informal but respectful title for a married woman, such as Mona Lisa. In the Neapolitan dialect (and other southern Italian dialects), intervocalic d becomes r, Madonna thereby becoming Maronna, the final a falling away, leaving the interjection Maronn’, a cry of exasperation. Donna has become a female given name in some parts of the United States with large Italian American populations. Donnish entered English in the early 19th century.

how is donnish used?

Sir Richard was not exactly donnish, but there was an element of the academic in what seemed otherwise to be a traditional, bird-slaughtering, upper-rank Englishman.

John Malcolm, The Gwen John Sculpture, 1985

… [William Safire] founded our On Language column in February 1979 and proceeded to write tens of thousands of words about phrases (fashionable and not), usages (proper and not), roots (definitive and not) and his own donnish taste — not! …

Gerald Marzorati, "On Language with Ben Zimmer," New York Times, March 16, 2010
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Monday, July 08, 2019

caducity

[ kuh-doo-si-tee, -dyoo- ]

noun

frailty; transitoriness: the caducity of life.

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What is the origin of caducity?

Caducity is an uncommon noun meaning “frailty, weakness of old age.” It comes from French caducité “obsolescence, cancellation,” a derivation of the adjective caduc “obsolete, deciduous,” from the Latin adjective cadūcus “fallen, falling, liable to fall, frail, fleeting.” Caducity entered English in the 17th century.

how is caducity used?

What remains, the point of the passion, is a fascination with caducity and the relationship of photography to it.

Leslie Epstein, "Stories and Something Else," New York Times, February 14, 1982

A man … to whom, and to whose colleagues, amid the perishable caducity of human affairs, is largely due the pullulation of literary taste ….

Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop, 1919
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Sunday, July 07, 2019

everywhen

[ ev-ree-hwen, -wen ]

adverb

all the time; always.

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What is the origin of everywhen?

Everywhen “at all times, always” usually appears in the phrase “everywhere and everywhen.” The word dates from the mid-17th century, but it has never really caught on.

how is everywhen used?

… the Doctor’s time and space machine gives him limitless opportunities to travel everywhere and everywhen—a freedom most of us would love to possess.

Kevin S. Decker, "The Ethics of the Last of the Time Lords," Doctor Who and Philosophy, 2010

Time stood still (that moment was eternal) and it was placeless (ubiquitous, everywhere and everywhen).

Roy Bhaskar, The Philosophy of MetaReality, 2002
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