Word of the Day

Friday, February 28, 2020

echelon

[ esh-uh-lon ]

noun

a level of command, authority, or rank: After years of service, she is now in the upper echelon of city officials.

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What is the origin of echelon?

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.

how is echelon used?

… if they fall out of favor with the top echelon of the party, their business empires could come crashing down.

David Barboza and Michael Forsythe, "With Choice at Tiananmen, Student Took Road to Riches," New York Times, June 3, 2014

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.

"See the First Trailer for Scathing Scientology Documentary Going Clear," Time, February 20, 2015
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Thursday, February 27, 2020

vug

[ vuhg, voog ]

noun

Geology.

a small cavity in a rock or vein, often lined with crystals.

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What is the origin of vug?

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.

how is vug used?

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.

James Landis, The Last Day, 2009

One such quartz vein contained minute particles of free gold, in a vug.

Mineral Resources of the Pasayten Wilderness Area, Washington, 1971

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

corrigible

[ kawr-i-juh-buhl, kor- ]

adjective

subject to being revised, improved, or made more accurate: a corrigible theory.

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What is the origin of corrigible?

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.

how is corrigible used?

First, policy decisions demand closure, conclusiveness, and certainty. By contrast, science is by its nature cautious, contingent, and corrigible.

David Murray, Joel Schwartz, and S. Robert Lichter, "How Science Is Handled in the News," "Consumers' Research Magazine, July 2001

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.”

Rowan Williams, "I Have No Idea How You Feel," Harvard Magazine, April 15, 2014

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