Word of the Day

Word of the day

Thursday, February 07, 2019

dullsville

[ duhlz-vil ]

noun

Slang. something boring or dull.

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What is the origin of dullsville?

Dullsville, originally an Americanism, is an obvious, self-explanatory compound. The suffix -ville comes from the French noun and suffix ville, -ville “city, town,” a straightforward development of Latin villa “farmhouse, farm, estate.” Both French and English use the suffix -ville to form placenames (nearly 20 percent of the toponyms, or placenames, in northern France end in -ville); American toponyms include Gainesville, Charlottesville, and Chancellorsville. French and English also use -ville to form derogatory or disparaging quasi-toponyms: French has bidonville “shantytown,” formed from bidon “metal can, metal drum (used in constructing shanties).” American English has Hooverville, dating from the Great Depression of the 1930s, and named “in honor of” president Herbert Hoover; Squaresville, associated with the Beat Generation, dates from the mid-1950s; Hicksville dates from the early 1920s; dragsville dates from the mid-1960s; and dullsville (also Dullsville) from 1960.

how is dullsville used?

Just that it was another system that didn’t look particularly noteworthy. A star and some planets. No record of human presence. Dullsville, really.

Alastair Reynolds, Absolution Gap, 2003

I work in a big insurance office now, working in the customer enquiries department. No doubt this will sound a bit dullsville to you …

David Nicholls, One Day, 2009
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Word of the day

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

temerity

[ tuh-mer-i-tee ]

noun

reckless boldness; rashness.

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What is the origin of temerity?

Temerity ultimately comes from the Latin noun temeritās (inflectional stem temeritāt-) “rashness, recklessness, thoughtlessness.” The Latin noun is a derivative of the adverb temerē (with the same meanings), and temerē in form is a fossil form of an assumed noun temus (stem temer-) “darkness” and meant “in the dark, blindly.” The Latin forms come from a Proto-Indo-European root teme- “dark,” with a suffixed noun form temesra “darkness.” Temesra in Latin becomes tenebrae (plural noun) “darkness” (source of tenebrous). The Latin name for the River Thames is Tamesis (Tamesa), adapted from a local Celtic language in which Tamesas means “dark river.” Temerity entered English in the 15th century.

how is temerity used?

… he was taken aback by skeptical reviews that had the temerity to question his research methods or his conclusions.

Jennifer Szalai, "Steven Pinker Wants You to Know Humanity Is Doing Fine. Just Don't Ask About Individual Humans." New York Times, February 28, 2018

The guys off the docks at the port who came in looking for engagement rings and wedding rings for their girlfriends would sometimes have the temerity to take the salesgirl’s hand in order to examine the stone up close.

Philip Roth, Everyman, 2006

Word of the day

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

hoggery

[ haw-guh-ree, hog-uh- ]

noun

slovenly or greedy behavior.

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What is the origin of hoggery?

Hoggery in its original (and still current) sense means “a place where hogs are kept.” The sense “swinish behavior, piggishness, greediness” dates from the 19th century. The latter sense is close to the Yiddish chazerei “piggery, filth, junk food, junk,” ultimately derived from Hebrew ḥazīr “pig.” Hoggery entered English in the 17th century.

how is hoggery used?

The culprits behind such acts of beach hoggery are said to range from unscrupulous umbrella operators hoping to bilk tourists, to eager sun seekers reserving space for friends and relatives.

Barry Neild, "Italy fines tourists who hog beach spots," CNN, August 9, 2016

Harry, this is game-hoggery of the worst kind. It has got to stop. I’m going to write my congressman.

Durward L. Allen, "Fifty Million Bunnies," Boys' Life, October 1960

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