Word of the Day

Saturday, May 30, 2020

escapism

[ ih-skey-piz-uhm ]

noun

the avoidance of reality by absorption of the mind in entertainment or in an imaginative situation, activity, etc.

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What is the origin of escapism?

Escapism, originally an Americanism, is a compound of escape and the suffix –ism, first appearing in 1933.

how is escapism used?

Most of us, when we arrive at a particularly trying moment in life, begin to indulge in escapism.

Carrie Battan, "The Italian Supermodel Who Was Already Hiding in Her Apartment," The New Yorker, April 30, 2020

Not that there’s anything wrong with escapism—until escapism is all you’ve got.

Alex Shearer, This Is the Life, 2014

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Friday, May 29, 2020

unctuous

[ uhngk-choo-uhs ]

adjective

excessively smooth, suave, or smug.

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What is the origin of unctuous?

Unctuous comes from Medieval Latin unctuōsus, “full of grease or soft fat,” a derivative of Latin unguen. All of the Middle English meanings pertain to grease, oil, or fat. It is only in the 18th century that the sense “marked by spiritual unction or holy oil” developed into the extended sense “smooth, suave, or smug,” the most common meaning of the word today. Unctuous entered English in the 14th century.

how is unctuous used?

Dwight Schrute, when last we left him, was regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pa. … He was vainglorious, unctuous, gullible, humorless, vulnerable, fascistic.

Louis Bayard, "'The Bassoon King' review: There's more to Rainn Wilson than Dwight Schrute," Washington Post, December 7, 2015

His style, moreover, struck her as being far too unctuous and effusive to be sincere.

William Edward Norris, "Citizens of the World," An Octave, 1900

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

doover

[ doo-ver ]

noun

Australian Slang.

thingamabob; thingamajig.

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What is the origin of doover?

Doover is an Australian slang word for thingamabob, thingamajig “something whose name is unknown.” As with many slang terms, an etymology (literally “true story”) for doover does not exist. The Hebrew noun dābhār “word, thing, matter” has been suggested as a source; an alteration of “do for (now)” is more likely.

how is doover used?

I carefully take little plastic doovers from the handle and top, and plier off the frame’s metal retainers without damaging them.

Cameron Woodhead, "Appetite for destruction: the art of smashing things and putting them back together," The Age, March 12, 2018

Well, not unlike my husband, who haunts hardware stores for ever newer and more complicated devices and doovers, I have become addicted to shops selling sewing bits and bobs.

Susan Kurosawa, "Toko Central: sew happy to be in Bali," The Australian, January 20, 2017

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