Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, August 25, 2019

dvandva

[ dvahn-dvah, dvuhn-dvuh ]

noun

Grammar.

a compound word neither element of which is subordinate to the other, as bittersweet.

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What is the origin of dvandva?

Dvandva, literally meaning “a pair,” is a Sanskrit technical term used exclusively in grammar and linguistics. (By the end of the second millennium b.c., Hindu Brahmans had invented and developed the science of descriptive linguistics, including phonology, phonetics, metrics, grammar, and etymology, in order to preserve the correct pronunciation and oral transmission of the Vedas). Dvandva is a reduplication of dva “two,” closely related to Latin duo, Greek dýo (also dýō and dýwe), Slavic (Czech) dva, Germanic (Gothic) twa, and Old Irish da, all derived from Proto-Indo-European duwo. Dvandva entered English in the 19th century.

how is dvandva used?

These days, it’s hard to tell leftists and liberals apart without an agenda. Hence the increasing popularity of ”liberal-leftist,” which merges categories on the model of compounds like ”toaster-oven” and ”owner-occupier.” (Linguists call those ”dvandvas,” a term invented by the Sanskrit grammarians.)

Geoffrey Nunberg, "Sticks and Stones; The Defanging of a Radical Epithet," New York Times, August 17, 2003

Dvandva compounds can be doubly pluralized, but only when the first noun is irregular: men-children, menfish, menservants, gentlemen-farmers, women writers, and women-doctors, but not boys-kinds, girlsfriends, or players-coaches.

Steven Pinker, Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language, 1999
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Saturday, August 24, 2019

textlationship

[ tekst-ley-shuhn-ship, teks‐ ]

noun

Slang.

a relationship or association between people who text each other frequently, but rarely if ever interact with each other in person: I thought he was interested in me, but we never even went out—it was just a textlationship.

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What is the origin of textlationship?

In English, the consonant cluster –xtl– in textlationship is awkward and rare. Textlationship is a neologism composed of text (message) and (re)lationship. The electronic medium is new, but a relationship, especially a romantic one, carried on at a distance through letters, has a long history. The word textlationship entered English in the early 21st century.

how is textlationship used?

Harry’s cottoning onto a textlationship might add meaning to one of his other recent stunts—dashing across the finish line of a Brazilian charity run … wearing a paper mask of his brother’s face. Let the soap opera begin!

Bridget Arsenault and Sarah Ball, "Royal Watch: Kate Plays Field Hockey in Colored Denim, Harry and Pippa's Textlationship," Vanity Fair, March 15, 2012

Friendships can dwindle to textlationships, but it’s especially frustrating when a former or potential lover keeps you at arm’s length.

Ariel Zeitlin, "10 Online Dating Terms You Need to Know Now," Reader's Digest, June 21, 2019
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Friday, August 23, 2019

snoot

[ snoot ]

verb (used with object)

to behave disdainfully toward; condescend to: New arrivals in the town were snooted by older residents.

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What is the origin of snoot?

The English noun snoot is a Scottish variant of snout “the nose, muzzle.” Snout and snoot are akin to Middle Low German and Middle Dutch snute, German Schnauze, and more remotely to Old English gesnot “nasal mucus” (English snot), Middle Low German and Middle Dutch snotte, and German schneuzen “to blow one’s nose.” The verb snoot “to behave disdainfully toward; condescend to,” a derivative of the noun snoot, is an Americanism dating only to the late 1920s. The noun snoot entered English in the early 1860s.

how is snoot used?

“I happen to be one of those people who knows what they’re talking about,” he snoots. The ghastly oil paintings in Rae Smith’s design suggest otherwise.

Matt Trueman, "London Theater Review: David Hare's 'The Moderate Soprano'," Variety, October 30, 2015

His retention of old tropes is no more inherently sentimental than the myth of progress that led some modernists to snoot him.

Peter Schjeldahl, "The Stubborn Genius of Auguste Rodin," The New Yorker, October 2, 2017
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