Word of the Day

Thursday, July 12, 2018

eggbeater

[ eg-bee-ter ]

noun

Slang. a helicopter.

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What is the origin of eggbeater?

Eggbeater in the sense “small, hand-operated rotary appliance used for beating eggs” has existed in English since the 1830s. Eggbeater in the sense “helicopter” was originally an American slang term used by pilots of fixed-wing aircraft for the newfangled helicopter, the rotary action of whose blades looked to them somewhat like the rotary action of the familiar kitchen appliance. Eggbeater in the aircraft sense dates from the 1930s.

how is eggbeater used?

With all aboard, the door of the egg-beater was closed.

Harry Lever, "Helicopter Ambulance," Flying, April 1953

Just keep that eggbeater you’re flying below sixty-five thousand feet and you’ll be just fine.

Dick Couch and George Galdorisi, Out of the Ashes, 2014
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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

solecism

[ sol-uh-siz-uhm, soh-luh- ]

noun

a nonstandard or ungrammatical usage, as unflammable and they was.

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What is the origin of solecism?

The noun solecism ultimately derives from Greek soloikismós “incorrect use of (Attic) Greek; incorrect use of language” (whether of individual words or in syntax), later “incorrect reasoning in logic,” and finally, “awkwardness.” Soloikismós is a derivative of the adjective sóloikos “speaking incorrectly, speaking broken Greek,” then “having bad manners, in bad taste, awkward.” Sóloikos traditionally derives from Sóloi, a colony on the southern shore of modern Turkey, not far from Tarsus where St. Paul was born. Sóloi, however, was not founded by the Athenians (who spoke Attic Greek) but by the Argives and Rhodians, who spoke Doric dialects. Perhaps whichever Athenian colonists were there originally wound up speaking a mixed dialect, or perhaps the Sóloikoi have been getting an undeserved bum rap for the past few millennia. Solecism entered English in the 16th century.

how is solecism used?

… Lee finds in the solecism of “less” for “fewer”—catnip for pedants, and familiar to anyone who has stood in a grocery-store express lane—the inspiration for a beautiful poem about growing old …

Dan Chiasson, "'The Undressing': Poetry of Passion Laid Bare," The New Yorker, March 19, 2018

And a single word couldn’t be a dead giveaway either, no matter how much people would like to portray the use of pled rather than pleaded as an obvious Trumpian solecism, especially when Dowd himself has been documented using pled at least once.

Ben Zimmer, "Can Forensic Linguistics Pin Down the Author of a Trump Tweet?" Atlantic, December 8, 2017
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

makebate

[ meyk-beyt ]

noun

Archaic. a person who causes contention or discord.

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What is the origin of makebate?

The rare noun makebate comes from the common English verb make and the uncommon, obsolete noun bate “strife, discord,” a derivative of the Middle English verb baten “to argue, contend; (of a bird) to beat the wings” (cf. abate), a borrowing from Old French batre “to beat.” Makebate entered English in the 16th century.

how is makebate used?

… he was no makebate or stirrer up of quarrels; he would rather be a peacemaker.

Sir Walter Scott, A Legend of Montrose, 1819

Trying to set you against me, the spiteful old make-bate, and no one knows how long she will be here …

Charlotte Mary Yonge, Under the Storm, 1887

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