Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

eidetic

[ ahy-det-ik ]

adjective

of, relating to, or constituting visual imagery vividly experienced and readily reproducible with great accuracy and in great detail.

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What is the origin of eidetic?

Eidetic “pertaining to visual images vividly experienced and readily reproducible” is a technical term used in psychology. It comes via German eidetisch from the equally technical Greek adjective eidētikós, whose senses include “constituting an image; (of a number) capable of being represented by a mathematical figure; formal (cause).” Eidētikós is a derivative of eídēsis, one of the several Greek nouns meaning “knowledge.” Eidetic entered English in the first half of the 20th century.

how is eidetic used?

His eidetic memory went to work, conjuring an image of a large-scale map he had once studied. Closing his eyes he laid off the exact distance, latitude and longitude, individual islands.

Poul Anderson, "The Sensitive Man," Fantastic Universe, January 1954

Dr. Matsuzawa said the ability reminded him of the phenomenon called eidetic imagery, in which a person memorizes details of a complex scene at a glance.

Henry Fountain, "Chimps Exhibit Superior Memory, Outshining Humans," New York Times, December 4, 2007

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Word of the day

Monday, December 28, 2020

amity

[ am-i-tee ]

noun

friendship; peaceful harmony.

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What is the origin of amity?

Amity “friendship; peaceful harmony; peaceful harmony between states” comes via Middle English amite, amitie, amiste from Old French amistié, amisté, amistet “friendship, affection,” from the unrecorded Vulgar Latin noun amīcitāt-, the inflectional stem of amīcitās, equivalent to Latin amīcitia “friendship.” (The same Vulgar Latin noun becomes amistad in Spanish, which may be familiar to Americans from the Steven Spielberg movie Amistad, 1997.) Amīcitia is a derivative of the noun amīcus “friend, lover,” which in its turn is a derivative of the verb amāre “to love, be in love, fall in love with,” which has no further etymology. Amity entered English in the first half of the 15th century.

how is amity used?

Felix held out his hand as a token of amity, which the other took.

Richard Jefferies, After London, 1885

She did not care for. Mrs. Markey … but John and Joe Markey were congenial and went in together on the commuting train every morning, so the two women kept up an elaborate pretence of warm amity.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Baby Party," Hearst's International Cosmopolitan, February 1925

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Sunday, December 27, 2020

fainéant

[ fey-nee-uhnt; French fe-ney-ahn ]

adjective

idle; indolent.

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What is the origin of fainéant?

The English adjective and noun fainéant “indolent, idle; an idler, a do-nothing” is plainly French. The earlier French spelling fait-nient, literally meaning “he does nothing,” is a folk etymology of Old French faignant “idler, sluggard,” the present participle of faindre, feindre “to shirk,” source of English faint and feign. Fainéant entered English in the first half of the 17th century.

how is fainéant used?

He became a very fainéant Pope, occupying his leisure hours, not discreditably, with literature and learned men, but making of those hours a far larger portion of his life than was consistent with the duty of a supreme head of the Church.

Thomas Adolphus Trollope, The Papal Enclaves, As They Were and As They Are, 1876

The evidence which he presents in such detail continues to produce, if anything, precisely that impression of the faineant President which he has been anxious to dispel.

George Dangerfield, "One in the shade of Jefferson, one in the shade of Adams," New York Times, July 4, 1971

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