• Word of the day
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    Thursday, February 07, 2019

    dullsville

    noun [duhlz-vil]
    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
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    Wednesday, February 06, 2019

    temerity

    noun [tuh-mer-i-tee]
    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

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, February 05, 2019

    hoggery

    noun [haw-guh-ree, hog-uh-]
    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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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, February 04, 2019

    rigmarole

    noun [rig-muh-rohl]
    an elaborate or complicated procedure: to go through the rigmarole of a formal dinner.
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    What is the origin of rigmarole?

    Rigmarole, with many variant spellings in the 18th century, is probably a reduction of ragman roll, a long catalog or list, a sense dating from the early 16th century. In Middle English ragmane rolle was a roll or scroll of writing used in a game of chance in which players draw out an item hidden in the roll. This game of chance possibly arose from Ragemon le bon (Rageman the Good), an Anglo-French poem. The sense “confused, incoherent, foolish, or meaningless talk” dates from the 18th century; the sense “elaborate or complicated procedure” dates from the 19th.

    How is rigmarole used?

    He said he had a shack in Mill City and I would have all the time in the world to write there while we went through the rigmarole of getting the ship. Jack Kerouac, On the Road, 1957

    At the station, I went through the rigmarole of implied consent and told Father Grady I wanted him to take a Breathalyzer test. Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care, 2009

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, February 03, 2019

    hygge

    noun [hoog-uh]
    the feeling of coziness and contentment evoked by simple comforts, as being wrapped in a blanket, having conversations with friends or family, enjoying food, etc.: The holidays are a time of hygge for me and my family.
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    What is the origin of hygge?

    Hygge is still an unnaturalized word in English. It is a Danish noun meaning “coziness, comfort, conviviality.” Danish hygge comes from Norwegian hygge (also hyggje in Nynorsk), but the Norwegian word doesn’t have the same emotive force as the Danish. The further derivation of the Norwegian forms is uncertain, but they may derive from Old Norse (and Old Icelandic) hyggja “thought, mind, opinion, thoughtfulness, care.” Hygge entered English in the 20th century.

    How is hygge used?

    Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge, 2016

    ... “The Red Address Book” is just the sort of easy-reading tale that will inspire readers to pull up a comfy chair to the fire, grab a mug of cocoa and a box of tissues and get hygge with it. Helen Simonson, "Hygge and Kisses," New York Times, January 11, 2019

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, February 02, 2019

    prognosticate

    verb [prog-nos-ti-keyt]
    to forecast or predict (something future) from present indications or signs; prophesy.
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    What is the origin of prognosticate?

    English prognosticate comes from Medieval Latin prognōsticāt-, the inflectional stem of prognōsticātus “foretold, predicted,” the past participle of prognōsticāre. Prognōsticāre comes from the Greek adjective and noun prognōstikós “prescient, foreknowing; a prognostic, a sign of the future.” It is not common for Latin and Greek to agree so easily in their etymologies, but prognosticate is a good example. The basic meaning of the preposition and prefix prō, pro- in both languages means “forward, forth, in front of” and is akin to English for and forth. The root gnō- in Latin and Greek means “to know” and is akin to English know and Slavic (Polish) znać. Prognosticate entered English in the 15th century.

    How is prognosticate used?

    Indeed, during the year we are describing, it was known that all those visible signs which prognosticate any particular description of weather, had altogether lost their significance. William Carleton, The Black Prophet: A Tale of Irish Famine, 1847

    January is here, which means it’s time to prognosticate about the new year — and specifically, how we in the Bay Area will be eating over the next 12 months and beyond. Sarah Fritsche, "How the Bay Area will eat in 2019: Convenience, CBD, and more chicken," San Francisco Chronicle, January 4, 2019

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, February 01, 2019

    sirenic

    [sahy-ren-ik]
    melodious, tempting, or alluring.
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    What is the origin of sirenic?

    English Siren (the mythical creature) comes from Greek Seirḗn, which has no reliable etymology. The Sirens first occur in the The Odyssey (book 12); there are only two of them, they are unnamed, and they live on an island yet sit in the middle of a flowery meadow surrounded by the moldering bones of the mortals they have beguiled. What the Sirens tempt Odysseus with is knowledge, irresistible for the curious, restless hero: “We know everything that happened at Troy, what the Argives (Achaeans, Greeks) and Trojans suffered at the will of the gods, and we know everything that happens on the all-nourishing earth.” Homer says nothing about the physical appearance of the Sirens—nothing about birds with the torso and arms of a woman, how many Sirens there were, their names and genealogy, all of which are later additions. The suffix -ic, however, has an excellent etymology: it comes from the Proto-Indo-European adjective suffix -ikos. The Greek form of this suffix is -ik ós, in Latin -icus (-ique in French). English -ic may come from the Greek, Latin, or French forms.

    How is sirenic used?

    She sang for an hour. I resigned myself to the spell of her voice--not alone to that sirenic power, but to the pleasure of being close beside her. E. W. Olney, "Mrs. Vanderduynck," The Galaxy, June 1876

    Seen in this context, good news of the kind Huffington now seeks to promulgate is a public menace. It’s sirenic, a call to blindness, a “happy” filter placed on a world that is often good but frequently not. Alexander Nazaryan, "The Bad News About Good News," Newsweek, February 27, 2015

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