Word of the Day

Sunday, August 26, 2018


[ dreem-boht ]


Slang. a highly attractive or desirable person.

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What is the origin of dreamboat?

If you associate dreamboat, a.k.a. heartthrob, with the movies that Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney made in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s, you are correct on the date of origin and datedness of the word. Guy Lombardo, the Canadian-American bandleader (1902-1977), popularized dreamboat in his song When My Dream Boat Comes Home (1936).

how is dreamboat used?

Hunter was a studio player at Warner Brothers: a blond, blue-eyed dreamboat, whom the studio was selling—quite successfully—as the quintessential boy next door.

Michael Schulman, "Tab Hunter's Secrets," The New Yorker, October 16, 2015

A tall dreamboat of a pilot in a grey uniform was chatting with a group of four people.

Raymond Chandler, The Long Good-bye, 1953
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Saturday, August 25, 2018


[ em-bosk ]


to hide or conceal (something, oneself, etc.) with or as if with foliage, greenery, or the like: to embosk oneself within a grape arbor.

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What is the origin of embosk?

The verb embosk “to hide in bushes” doesn’t look quite as bogus as embiggen, but it’s not far off. The prefix em-, a form of en- used before labial consonants (p, b, m) as in embalm, embankment, and embark, is familiar enough. Bosk is the funny word. It first appears as a singular noun boske (and plural boskes) in the late 13th century, meaning bush, bushes, and is last recorded about 1400 in Cleanness (or Purity), a poem by an unknown author known as the Gawain Poet. Bosk survives in British dialect but reentered standard English in the 19th century through the poetry of Sir Walter Scott and Alfred, Lord Tennyson. As rare as bosk is, its derivative embosk is even rarer. Embosk entered English in the late 20th century.

how is embosk used?

[Sancho] said as much to his lord, requesting him to depart presently from thence, and embosk himself in the mountain, which was very near.

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote of the Mancha, translated by Thomas Shelton, 1612

… they seek the dark, the bushy, the tangled forest; they would embosk.

John Milton, "Of Reformation Touching Church-Discipline in England," 1641
Friday, August 24, 2018


[ glan-suh-buhl, glahn- ]


Digital Technology. noting or relating to information on an electronic screen that can be understood quickly or at a glance: glanceable data; a glanceable scoreboard.

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What is the origin of glanceable?

The adjective glanceable is awkward in formation: it means not “able to glance” but “able to be comprehended at a glance,” which is desirable when one sees a large red octagonal sign with STOP in the middle of it, less so in other situations.

how is glanceable used?

I still use my Apple Watch every day. It tracks my health, makes my notifications glanceable, and actually looks nice.

Brandt Ranj, "5 stands to keep your Apple Watch charged all the time," Business Insider, December 27, 2017

He called it the Ambient Orb, and it’s a nice example of what he describes as glanceable technology, a device that presents information in a way that you can read simply and quickly, with just a glance, without taking too much of your attention.

Penelope Green, "Putting Magic in the Mundane," New York Times, July 16, 2014
Thursday, August 23, 2018


[ kuh-pich-uh-leyt ]


to give up resistance: He finally capitulated and agreed to do the job my way.

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What is the origin of capitulate?

The English verb capitulate is from the Late Latin capitulātus “drawn up or arranged in chapters or headings,” from the verb capitulāre “to arrange in chapters, summarize, stipulate (in a contract), agree.” Capitulāre is a derivative of the noun capitulum, one of whose meanings in Late Latin is “section of a law,” in the Corpus Juris Civilis of the emperor Justinian (483-565). Capitulate entered English in the 16th century.

how is capitulate used?

He was just too stubborn and pigheaded unless–and here was the one possible case in which he might capitulate–if it were to save his only son.

Wilbur Smith, Birds of Prey, 1997

She realized that living in midtown would shorten her time on the train each day by half, and decided to capitulate. She would stay with her father weeknights, then return to Brooklyn for the weekends.

Elizabeth Gaffney, When the World Was Young, 2014
Wednesday, August 22, 2018


[ raf-ish ]


mildly or sometimes engagingly disreputable or nonconformist; rakish: a matinee idol whose raffish offstage behavior amused millions.

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What is the origin of raffish?

Raffish is protean in its meanings and possible origins. Its meanings include “mildly, engagingly nonconformist, rakish; gaudy, vulgar, tawdry.” Raffish is obviously a derivative of the noun raff, but it is with raff that real problems arise. Raff means “rabble, the lower sort of people, riffraff.” Raff may be a shortening of riffraff (earlier riffe raffe), from Middle English rif and raf, a catchall phrase of very uncertain origin meaning “everything, every particle, things of slight value, everyone, one and all.” Related phrases or idioms exist in other languages: Walloon French has rif-raf “fast and sloppy”; Middle Dutch has rijf ende raf “everything, everyone, one and all; Italian has di riffa o di raffa “one way or another.” Raffish entered English in the late 18th century.

how is raffish used?

In trying to look like raffish characters, American men spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on hairpieces, urban cowboy clothes, disco lessons, imported sports cars, aviator glasses, tailored jogging suits or jump suits, health club memberships, and sex manuals.

Mike Royko, "Jay's Bottom Line," Chicago Sun-Times, September 24, 1980

He was wearing a dark suit and a collar and tie, but he had that raffish seediness about him of a newspaper journalist.

M. C. Beaton, The Potted Gardener, 1994
Tuesday, August 21, 2018


[ kahy-ood-l ]


to bark or yelp noisily or foolishly; yap.

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What is the origin of kyoodle?

Kyoodle began as and still may be an Americanism. The word has no distinguished etymology (except for the vague label Imitative), which exactly fits the verb and also one of its noun meanings: mutt, noisy dog. Some distinguished American authors have used the word, however, including John Steinbeck, John O’Hara, and Sinclair Lewis. Kyoodle entered English in the late 19th century.

how is kyoodle used?

No living thing moved upon it, not even a medicine wolf to kyoodle to the invisible moon.

Richard Sale, The White Buffalo, 1975

But the dogs waved their tails happily and sought out a rabbit and went kyoodling after it.

John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat, 1935
Monday, August 20, 2018


[ skwey-muhs ]


covered with or formed of squamae or scales.

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What is the origin of squamous?

The adjective squamous is a direct borrowing of Latin squāmōsus “covered with scales, scaly”, a derivative of the noun squāma “scale (on a fish or reptile), metal plate used in making armor.” The ultimate etymology of squāma is unclear, but it is related to squālēre “to be covered or crusted in scales or dirt,” and the derivatives of squālēre include squālidus “having a rough surface” and squālor “roughness, dirtiness, filth.” Squamous entered English in the 16th century.

how is squamous used?

The back was piebald with yellow and black, and dimly suggested the squamous covering of certain snakes.

H. P. Lovecraft, "The Dunwich Horror," Weird Tales, April 1929

They speak no known tongue and are said to sacrifice sailors to their squamous, fish-headed gods, likenesses of whom rise from their stony shores, visible only when the tide recedes.

George R. R. Martin, Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson, The World of Ice and Fire, 2014

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