a level of command, authority, or rank: After years of service, she is now in the upper echelon of city officials.
In English, echelon originally had a military sense, “military forces advancing in a steplike formation.” Around 1950, echelon acquired the originally American sense “grade or rank in any administration or profession.” Echelon comes from French echelon, originally “rung of a ladder,” from Old French eschelon, formed from the noun eschele, eschiele “ladder” (from Latin scāla) and the augmentative suffix –on (an augmentative suffix, when added to a noun, denotes increased size or intensity). Echelon entered English in the late 18th century.
… if they fall out of favor with the top echelon of the party, their business empires could come crashing down.
The film features interviews with former members of the controversial organization who describe widespread abuse and intimidation from the upper echelons of the Church’s power structure.
a small cavity in a rock or vein, often lined with crystals.
While you may have not heard of the word vug before, you have probably encountered a beautiful specimen of what this uncommon term names. In geology, vug refers to a small cavity in a rock or vein, often lined with crystals. Cavity is the key word, as vug comes from Cornish vooga “cave” (compare Cornish gogow “cave, cavity” and gwag “cave,” Welsh ogof “cave,” Latin fovea “pit”). Vug is also spelled vugg and vugh, and its adjective form is the delightful vuggy. Cornish was a Celtic language of southwest England that went extinct around 1800, but was notably revived in the 20th century. Borrowed from Cornish mining, vug entered English in the early 1800s.
And this little hole—see, this little hole? There were once quartz crystals here too but they eroded away. This little hole is called a vug.
One such quartz vein contained minute particles of free gold, in a vug.
subject to being revised, improved, or made more accurate: a corrigible theory.
It is curious that corrigible “subject to being revised, improved, or made more accurate” is much less common than its opposite, incorrigible. Corrigible ultimately comes from Medieval Latin corrigiblis, a derivative of Latin corrigere “to correct, amend, improve, rectify.” Corrigibilis does not occur in classical Latin, but incorrigibilis occurs in Seneca, the first-century a.d. Roman philosopher and man of letters. Corrigible entered English in the 15th century.
First, policy decisions demand closure, conclusiveness, and certainty. By contrast, science is by its nature cautious, contingent, and corrigible.
He cautioned against a colonizing mindset that too readily collapses the distance between one’s self and another; empathy, in Stein’s definition, is “corrigible, always something to be learned.”
a private social club that sponsors balls, parades, etc., as part of the Mardi Gras festivities, especially in New Orleans.
Krewe is a fanciful or archaized spelling of crew “a group of people engaged in a particular kind of work.” Crew comes from Middle French creue “increase” from Old French creu, past participle of the verb creistre “to grow.” Old French creistre develops from the Latin verb crēscere, the ultimate source of the words crescent and croissant. Krewe is first attested in English in 1857.
On the morning of Shrove Tuesday, families lined up on St. Charles Ave. to watch the main event of the Carnival—the parade of Rex, the second-oldest parading krewe.
Davis lovingly previewed the ritual of revelry: on the Friday before Fat Tuesday he and his krewe—some 500 strong—will gather for lunch and ribald jokes.
political realism or practical politics, especially policy based on power rather than on ideals.
Realpolitik still feels like a German word. It was coined by Ludwig von Rochau, a 19th-century German politician and journalist, in his Grundsätze der Realpolitik “Principles of Practical Politics” (1853). Real in German means “realistic, practical, objective,” and Realpolitik means “realistic politics, practical politics,” that is, politics based primarily on power, national interests, and material factors and not on explicit ideological or moral or ethical premises. Realpolitik entered English in the second half of the 19th century.
Throughout, Ms. Warren has kept one eye trained on policy and the other on realpolitik: protecting her aspirational brand of liberalism and robbing Republicans (and her Democratic rivals) of a potent talking point about middle-class taxes.
… the cynic also had not counted on how ruthless the man could be in attaching himself to cold realpolitik after building his entire campaign—nay, his entire political career—on a notion of political transcendence.
scurrilous; foulmouthed; grossly abusive.
The very rare adjective thersitical “scurrilous, foulmouthed, abusive” derives from the Greek personal name Thersítēs, itself a derivative of the adjective thersiepḗs “bold of speech.” Thersites appears in Book 2 of the Iliad in the assembly of the Achaeans. Homer describes Thersites as lame, bowlegged, with shoulders that sloped inward, and a pointy head covered with tufts of hair—the ugliest man at Troy. Thersites accuses Agamemnon of greed and Achilles of cowardice, for which Odysseus beats him severely about the head and shoulders to the great amusement of the rest of the Achaeans. Thersitical entered English in the mid-17th century.
… there is a pelting kind of thersitical satire ….
These he lists in language so richly thersitical that his English translator, likely Herring himself, must have strained his vocabulary to its limits to do it justice.
Chiefly Midland and Western U.S.
a usually short, heavy rainstorm.
Gullywasher, “a short, heavy rainstorm,” is a dialect and regional word in the U.S. Midwest and West. The first half of the word is a variant pronunciation of gullet “throat, esophagus,” from Middle English golet, gulet, from Old French goulet, from Latin gula “throat.” Gullywasher entered English in the early 20th century.
I used to have a country neighbor who during drouths would inevitably, when he saw a white rim of cloudiness on the easter horizon, prognosticate a gully-washer, a clod-melter, a frog-strangler within the week.
The rounds of rain and flash flooding Tuesday presented another reminder that 2018 has featured both gullywashers and full-day washouts.