Word of the Day

Friday, January 15, 2021

ergo

[ ur-goh, er-goh ]

conjunction, adverb

therefore.

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What is the origin of ergo?

The conjunction and adverb ergo comes straight from the Latin conjunction ergō, ergo “therefore, consequently, accordingly, and so,” much used in rhetoric and logic. Ergo came into Middle English toward the end of the 14th century as a conjunction or adverb introducing the conclusion of a syllogism, e.g., “Socrates is a man, / all men are mortal; / ergo Socrates is mortal.”

how is ergo used?

Nonetheless, receiving rapid testing for the virus has become a mark of status and, ergo, a trending topic on social media.

Alyson Krueger, "Rapid Testing Is the New Velvet Rope," New York Times, August 16, 2020

Almost all professional orchestras have their own Web sites, where you can … read cute bios of the players. (The oboist bungee-jumps; ergo, musicians are human beings, not alien geeks.)

Alex Ross, "On the Road," The New Yorker, June 25, 2007

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ergo

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

discombobulate

[ dis-kuhm-bob-yuh-leyt ]

verb (used with object)

to confuse or disconcert; upset; frustrate.

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What is the origin of discombobulate?

Discombobulate “to confuse, upset, or frustrate” was originally a jocular American coinage from the North Midland U.S. (from Ohio west through Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, to Nebraska). Discombobulate is a pseudo-Latinism like absquatulate and confusticate, and based on learned Latin words like disaffiliate or disaggregate, or humorous alterations of discompose or discomfort. The many variant spellings include discombobligate, discombobolate, discomboberate, discombooberate, and discumboblificate. Discombobulate entered English in 1825 in the spelling discomboberated.

how is discombobulate used?

The filmmaking theory seems to be that if you discombobulate viewers with random shifts of the camera perhaps they won’t notice that your U.F.O. show contains no hard evidence of U.F.O.’s.

Neil Genzlinger, "An Alien March Madness: Is There Life in Space?" New York Times, February 28, 2014

On how humankind will cope, I tend to take the long view: new transformative technologies have discombobulated us before and we’ve managed to adapt—to the invention of writing and printing, to living in cities, to the Industrial Revolution and instant communication and automobiles and nuclear technology.

Kurt Andersen, "Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence," Vanity Fair, November 26, 2014

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

umbrageous

[ uhm-brey-juhs ]

adjective

apt to take offense.

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What is the origin of umbrageous?

Umbrageous has two main senses: “creating or providing shade, shady” and “apt or likely to take offense.” The word comes via French ombrageux “shady; inclined to take offense,” from Latin umbrāticus “(of a person or an activity) living or performed in the shade, secluded, devoted to quiet, impractical pursuits.” Umbrāticus, a derivative adjective and noun of umbra “shadow, shade, reflection, outline,” does not have the senses “shady, providing shade” or “apt or inclined to take offense,” which are senses that English borrowed from 17th-century French. Umbrageous entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is umbrageous used?

… he was quite umbrageous, and his personality lent itself to confrontation.

Chuck Pfarrer, Philip Nolan: The Man Without a Country, 2016

Is it possible to spend time with friends whose company I do enjoy without incurring the wrath of the umbrageous?

"Miss Manners: Host needs specific dates for holiday guests," Washington Post, December 6, 2019

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umbrageous

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