Word of the Day

Monday, February 25, 2019

evenfall

[ ee-vuhn-fawl ]

noun

twilight; dusk; the beginning of evening.

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What is the origin of evenfall?

Evenfall, “the beginning of evening, dusk,” from its very look is a poetic word. It is reasonable to assume, but impossible to prove, that evenfall was modeled on the earlier nightfall (1700). Evenfall entered English in the 19th century.

how is evenfall used?

And now ’tis evenfall in the brave and beautiful Borderland, and long shadows fall across the smooth lawns and fragrant garden …

George MacDonald Fraser, The Reavers, 2007

James Turner had his own conception of what happiness was … Mine is to smoke a pipe at evenfall and watch a badger, a rattlesnake, and an owl go into their common prairie home one by one.

O. Henry, "What You Want," Strictly Business, 1910
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Sunday, February 24, 2019

halidom

[ hal-i-duhm ]

noun

a holy place, as a church or sanctuary.

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What is the origin of halidom?

Halidom is a rare word meaning “holy place, sanctuary.” Its Old English form, hāligdōm, is a compound formed of the adjective hālig “holy” and the abstract noun suffix -dōm (English -dom). Hāligdōm originally meant “holiness, sanctity” in Old English, but this sense was obsolete by the 17th century. The concrete senses of hāligdōm, “chapel, sanctuary” and “relic,” are as old as the abstract sense. Halidom entered English before 1000.

how is halidom used?

Most nations would reckon it a village, but it had its halidom, assembly hall, market, and busy little industries.

Poul and Karen Anderson, "Faith," After the King: Stories in Honor of J. R. R. Tolkien, 1992

There are few more interesting spots in Great Britain than “Dewisland,” or the “halidom” of St. David.

W. A. B. Coolidge, "St. David's," The Cathedral Churches of England and Wales, 1884
Saturday, February 23, 2019

prodigal

[ prod-i-guhl ]

adjective

wastefully or recklessly extravagant: prodigal expenditure.

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What is the origin of prodigal?

Prodigal ultimately derives from the Late Latin adjective prōdigālis “wasteful,” from the Latin adjective prōdigus (with the same meaning), a derivative of the verb prōdigere “to drive forth or away; to waste, squander.” Prōdigere is a compound of the preposition and combining form pro, pro- “forth, forward” and agere “to drive (cattle), ride (a horse).” Aristotle in Book IV of the Nicomachean Ethics defines the virtue of liberality (with respect to wealth) as the mean between the opposite vices of prodigality and stinginess, the prodigal man being one who wastes money on self-indulgent pleasures. The most famous case of prodigality is from Luke’s gospel (15:11-32), the “Parable of the Prodigal Son.” Prodigal entered English in the 15th century.

how is prodigal used?

… Kubrick a planned and prodigal expenditure of resources.

Annette Michelson, "Bodies in Space: Film as 'Carnal Knowledge'," Artforum, February 1969

She feels she can never truly write well because she lacks Lila’s wild, prodigal spirit. Lila, she thinks, “possessed intelligence and didn’t put it to use but, rather, wasted it, like a great lady for whom all the riches in the world are merely a sign of vulgarity.”

Joan Acocella, "Elena Ferrante's New Book: Art Wins," The New Yorker, September 1, 2015

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