Word of the Day

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

epistolary

[ ih-pis-tl-er-ee ]

adjective

contained in or carried on by letters: an epistolary friendship.

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What is the origin of epistolary?

English epistolary comes from the Latin adjective epistulāris (also epistolāris), a derivative of the noun epistula (epistola) “a letter, a dispatch, a written communication, an epistle (as in the New Testament).” Epistula comes from Greek epistolḗ, which has the same meanings. An epistolary novel is one that is composed in a series of documents, usually (private) letters, but also diary entries, newspaper articles, and other documents. Such novels were especially popular in the 18th century, e.g., in England, Pamela by Samuel Richardson (1740); in France, Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos (1782); and in Germany, The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1774). Bram Stoker’s epistolary novel Dracula, published in 1897, and continuously in print ever since, has attained a kind of immortality. Epistolary entered English in the 17th century.

how is epistolary used?

Her imaginative epistolary novel opens with Johanna’s engagement to Theo in 1888 and winds its way through the avant-garde Paris art scene ….

Sarah Ferguson, "Johanna: A Novel of the van Gogh Family," New York Times, June 4, 1995

Their disagreement lay dormant for nearly two decades, during which time their epistolary friendship flourished ….

Nathan Goldman, "'I Don't Know If This Letter Will Reach You': The Letters of Hannah Arendt and Gershom Scholem," Los Angeles Review of Books, March 12, 2019
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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

slubber

[ sluhb-er ]

verb (used with object)

to perform hastily or carelessly.

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What is the origin of slubber?

Slubber  is an older, infrequent verb that means “to perform (something) hastily or carelessly.” Earlier senses include “to smear; smudge” and “to sully (a reputation, etc.).” Slubber comes from Low German slubbern “to do work carelessly” and appears to be related to slabber and the more familiar slobber “to let saliva run from the mouth,” with an earlier sense of “to eat in a hasty, messy manner”—an unfastidious trio of terms forming one “sloppy” family. Slubber entered English in the early 1500s.

how is slubber used?

Slubber not business for my sake, Bassanio …

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, 1600

It must be “slubber’d o’er in haste,”—its important preliminaries left to the cold imagination of the reader—its fine spirit perhaps evaporating for want to being embodied in words.

Caroline Kirkland, Western Clearings, 1845
Monday, September 09, 2019

ikebana

[ ik-uh-bah-nuh; Japanese ee-ke-bah-nah ]

noun

the Japanese art of arranging flowers.

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What is the origin of ikebana?

Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, comes from the Japanese verb ikeru “to keep alive, make alive, arrange” and –bana, a variant used as a combining form of hana “flower.” Ikebana dates to the 6th century when offerings of flowers were placed at altars; later, flowers were also displayed in tokonomas (alcoves in private homes). Ikebana entered English at the beginning of the 20th century.

how is ikebana used?

… were you to consider the philosophy at the core of ikebana, grounded as it is in Japan’s ancient polytheism and its Buddhist traditions, you might find something quite relevant to the times we live in: an art that can expand your appreciation  of beauty.

Deborah Needleman, "The Rise of Modern Ikebana," New York Times, November 6, 2017

One must surpass and transcend concepts of traditional use and discover a “new face” in the material, and this “new face” is the primary focus of contemporary ikebana.

Shozo Sato, Ikebana: The Art of Arranging Flowers, 2012

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