• Word of the day
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    Tuesday, May 29, 2018

    excogitate

    verb [eks-koj-i-teyt]
    to think out; devise; invent.
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    What is the origin of excogitate?

    Excogitate comes from Latin excōgitātus, the past participle of excōgitāre meaning “to devise, invent, think out.” It entered English in the 1520s.

    How is excogitate used?

    I wouldn't put the question to you for the world, and expose you to the inconvenience of having to ... excogitate an answer. Henry James, Washington Square, 1880

    The average politician knows fully as little or as much about railway management as he does about photographing the moon or applying the solar spectrum; yet, once upon a board of railway commissioners, he is required to excogitate and frame rules for an industry which not only supplies the financial arteries of a continent, but holds the lives as well as the credits of its citizens dependent upon the click of a telegraph or the angle of a semaphore ... Appleton Morgan, "The Political Control of Railways: Is It Confiscation?" Popular Science Monthly, February 1889

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, May 28, 2018

    estimable

    adjective [es-tuh-muh-buhl]
    deserving respect or admiration; worthy of esteem.
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    What is the origin of estimable?

    The English adjective estimable comes via French estimable from Latin aestimābilis, a derivative of aestimāre “to value, price, estimate the money value of.” The etymology of aestimāre is unclear, but it may be related to Latin aes (stem aer-) “copper, bronze, brass,” from Proto-Indo-European ayes-, ayos- “metal, copper,” from which Sanskrit derives áyas- “metal, iron,” Gothic aiz “bronze,” German Erz “ore” (the Erzgebirge, “Ore Mountain Range,” lies between Saxony, Germany, and Bohemia, Czech Republic), Old English ār “ore, copper, brass,” and English ore. Estimable entered English in the 15th century.

    How is estimable used?

    He is the most estimable, the most trustworthy creature in the world, and I will venture to say, there is not a better seaman in all the merchant service. Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo, translated by Adolphe Cohn, 1922

    Nothing is more typical of Armstrong, or more estimable, than his decision not to go into politics; heaven knows what the blandishments, or the invitations, must have been. Anthony Lane, "The Man and the Moon," The New Yorker, August 26, 2012

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, May 27, 2018

    lateritious

    adjective [lat-uh-rish-uhs]
    of the color of brick; brick-red.
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    What is the origin of lateritious?

    The very rare adjective lateritious comes from Latin latericius (also lateritius) “made of brick,” a derivative of the noun later “brick, tile, block, ingot.” In English lateritious is used in medicine, biology, and geology to describe the color of urine, sediment, or stone. Lateritious entered English in the 17th century.

    How is lateritious used?

    He scanned the sooted pillars and lateritious stone, and her spark began to fade for him. David Whellams, Walking Into the Ocean, 2012

    The powders made from this bark are at first of a light brown, tinged with a dusky yellow; and the longer they are kept, the more they incline to a cinnamon or lateritious colour, which he believed was the case with the Peruvian bark and powders. Reverend Edward Stone, "On the Success of the Bark of the Willow in the Cure of Agues," April 25, 1763, The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Vol. XII, 1763–1769

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, May 26, 2018

    ferly

    noun [fer-lee]
    something unusual, strange, or causing wonder or terror.
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    What is the origin of ferly?

    Nowadays ferly is used only in Scottish English as a noun meaning “a wonder, a marvel,” and a verb “to wonder.” The Old English source is the adjective fǣrlīc “sudden,” a derivative of the noun fǣr “fear” (akin to German Gefahr “danger” and gefährlich “dangerous”).

    How is ferly used?

    As on a May morning, on Malvern hills, / Me befell a ferly of fairy, methought. William Langland (c1330–c1400), The Vision of Piers Plowman, 1360–99

    Many a ferly fares to the fair-eyed ... William Morris, Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair, 1895

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, May 25, 2018

    pasquinade

    noun [pas-kwuh-neyd]
    a satire or lampoon, especially one posted in a public place.
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    What is the origin of pasquinade?

    English pasquinade comes via French pasquinade from Italian pasquinata “a satire, lampoon,” a derivative of Pasquino, supposedly the name of a local Roman schoolmaster (or tailor, or shoemaker, or barber), and the nickname given to a 3rd-century b.c. fragment of statuary discovered in 1501 (now known to be Menelaus carrying the body of Patroclus). Cardinal Oliviero Carafa (1430-1511), an Italian cleric and diplomat, set the fragment up at the corner of his palace (the Palazzo Orsini, now the Palazzo Braschi), near the Piazza Navona, and began or encouraged the yearly custom to “restore” the fragment on the feast of St. Mark (April 25th) and clothe it in the costume of a mythological or historical character. University professors and their students paid “homage” to the statue by posting Latin verses (pasquinate) on the fragment. Over time these verses became anonymous satires written in Romanesco (the Italian dialect of Rome). Pasquinade entered English in the 17th century.

    How is pasquinade used?

    When Michaelis's testimony at the inquest brought to light Wilson's suspicions of his wife I thought the whole tale would shortly be served up in racy pasquinade ... F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1925

    There are several pasquinades up now, commenting on Berlusconi’s recent visit to Washington and his subsequent defense in the Italian Parliament of Italy’s support for the war in Iraq. , "Ask Pasquino," The New Yorker, June 7, 2004

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, May 24, 2018

    antemeridian

    adjective [an-tee-muh-rid-ee-uhn]
    occurring before noon.
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    What is the origin of antemeridian?

    The Latin adverbial phrase ante merīdiem means “before midday, before noon.” The noun merīdiēs is a dissimilation of medīdiēs “middle of the day, midday, south,” formed from the adjective medius “middle, middle of” and the noun diēs “day.” The Roman polymath Varro (c116-c27 b.c.) wrote that he saw the archaic or dialectal form medīdiēs on a sundial in Praeneste (modern Palestrina), a town east southeast of Rome. Antemeridian entered English in the 16th century.

    How is antemeridian used?

    And what, pray tell, is the point of “Twitter”? Seriously, I don't “get” it. I meanest, I see what people use it for; I simply do not comprehend the urge to share publicly thy basest observations about celebrated thespians during ceremonies of awards and the quality of thy antemeridian coffee ... Teddy Wayne, "My Kingdom for an English Course!" New York Times, November 9, 2013

    In the first antemeridian hours there was a lull in the restless hotel night. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, 1955

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    flubdub

    noun [fluhb-duhb]
    pretentious nonsense or show; airs.
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    What is the origin of flubdub?

    There is no etymology other than “fanciful coinage” or “of unknown origin” for flubdub. It is used as a common noun but first appears in print as a surname in 1885.

    How is flubdub used?

    He had, by intently listening to lawyers who had delivered him from justice in the 43 times he had stood prisoner before city and county courts, acquired an astonishing hash of legalistic flubdub. Meyer Berger, "Murder Inc.: Justice Overtakes the Largest and Most Cruel Gang of Killers in U.S. History," Life, September 30, 1940

    Next to seeing a ballgame, the best thing is to sit in the studio with Mr. Barber and watch and listen as he takes the skeletonized report of a game coming over the telegraph wire and wraps up the bare bones with flubdub and pads it out and feeds it to the customers so it sounds as though he, and they, were seeing the plays. Red Smith, "It's All Genuine, Although Synthetic," New York Herald Tribune, August 28, 1946

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