Word of the Day

Monday, April 23, 2018

Falstaffian

[ fawl-staf-ee-uhn ]

adjective

of, relating to, or having the qualities of Falstaff, especially his robust, bawdy humor, good-natured rascality, and brazen braggadocio: Falstaffian wit.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of Falstaffian?

The adjective Falstaffian derives from Falstaff, the family name of Sir John Falstaff, a fictional character in two of Shakespeare’s historical plays (Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2) and in the comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. His death is briefly treated in Henry V. Falstaff as a character is fat, vain, boastful, cowardly, bibulous; he lives on stolen or borrowed money and consorts with petty criminals. He has always been a favorite character among playgoers. Falstaffian entered English in the early 19th century.

how is Falstaffian used?

You couldn’t see the top of the harvest table for all the dishes and wine bottles, but I could see Paul presiding at the far end: bawdy, Falstaffian.

Robert Hellenga, The Confessions of Frances Godwin, 2014

To it would his wholesome and happy mind revert, how often! to rest there for the space of a smile, at least, and sometimes long enough for a full, oceanic commotion of mirth, a perfected soul-delivery of Falstaffian laughter.

William MacDonald, "General Preface: A Discourse of Editions Past and Present," Essays of Elia, 1903

SIGN UP FOR A VOCABULARY BOOST IN YOUR EMAIL

Get the Word of the Day delivered daily
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Sunday, April 22, 2018

biophilia

[ bahy-oh-fil-ee-uh, -feel-yuh ]

noun

a love of life and the living world; the affinity of human beings for other life forms.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of biophilia?

Biophilia is a New Latin word formed by two Greek combining forms widely used in English, bio- (from bíos “life”) and -philia “love (of).” Biophilia was coined by the German-born U.S. psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (1900-80) in The Heart of Man: Its Genius for Good and Evil (1964) in the meaning “love for humanity and nature, and independence and freedom.” E. O. (Edward Osborne) Wilson, U.S. biologist, theorist, and author (born 1929) expanded the meaning to “the rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms” in Biophilia (1984). The word biophilia entered English in 1964.

how is biophilia used?

Indeed, on a per-capita basis, New Zealand may be the most nature-loving nation on the planet. With a population of just four and a half million, the country has some four thousand conservation groups. But theirs is, to borrow E. O. Wilson’s term, a bloody, bloody biophilia.

Elizabeth Kolbert, "The Big Kill," The New Yorker, December 22 & 29, 2014

… that fourth kind of love in Perdita’s bundle–biophilia–isn’t it rather intriguing? … He thinks that all living things have an instinctive orientation toward one another. Biophilia is supposed to be deep in our biological makeup.

Hilary Scharper, Perdita, 2013
Saturday, April 21, 2018

panchreston

[ pan-kres-tuh n ]

noun

a proposed explanation intended to address a complex problem by trying to account for all possible contingencies but typically proving to be too broadly conceived and therefore oversimplified to be of any practical use.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of panchreston?

English panchreston comes via Latin panchrēstos “good for everything, universal.” In Latin, its usage is restricted to medicine or derived metaphors, e.g., Pliny the Elder (a.d. 23-79) uses panchrēstos stomaticē, a phrase of two Greek words with Greek inflections, meaning “universal remedy for ailments of the mouth”; Cicero (106-43 b.c.), in one of his forensic speeches, uses panchrēstō medicāmentō “universal cure” as a scornful periphrasis for “bribe.” The original Greek adjective (and noun) pánchrēstos has the same relatively restricted meaning, i.e., to describe widely useful tools or medications. Panchreston entered English in the 17th century.

how is panchreston used?

Bunnell … suggested that the term “fragmentation” has become a panchreston because it has become a catch-all phrase that means different things to different people.

David B. Lindenmayer and Joern Fischer, Habitat Fragmentation and Landscape Change, 2006

Unfortunately, this term has by now acquired so many definitions (at least 70 by recent count) that it has become a panchreston–a term that means so many different things that it means almost nothing.

Daniel Simberloff, Invasive Species: What Everyone Needs to Know, 2013
Friday, April 20, 2018

neatnik

[ neet-nik ]

noun

Slang. a person who is extremely neat about surroundings, appearance, etc.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of neatnik?

Neatnik was formed in opposition to the supposedly scruffy, unshaven beatnik (coined in 1958). The suffix -nik, still unnaturalized in English, is of immediate Yiddish origin, from Slavic (Russian, Ukrainian). English peacenik, also derogatory, dates from 1962. Neatnik entered English in 1959.

how is neatnik used?

This yard scrubbing leaves the neatnik poised and ready to intercept the very first leaf to yield to gravity.

Adrian Higgins, "Americans love mulch--and many of us are misusing it," Washington Post, September 13, 2017

I could almost identify by type the managers who had come and gone in the thirty years the building had been occupied. One was a neatnik, who’d filed all the paperwork in matching banker’s boxes.

Sue Grafton, T Is for Trespass, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2018

booklore

[ book-lawr ]

noun

facts and information about books, especially about authors and circumstances of publication.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of booklore?

One of the current meanings of booklore, “facts about books, their authors and publication,” applies mostly to the business of buying, trading, and selling books, especially of first editions and antiquarian books. The other meaning of booklore is as a much less common synonym of book learning. Wulfstan of York (died 1023), Archbishop of York and homilist (a writer or speaker of sermons, usually on Biblical or religious subjects) is the first writer to use booklore. Not surprisingly Wulfstan uses bóclár in the sense “book learning, especially religious book learning.” Booklore entered English in the early 11th century.

how is booklore used?

Besides reviving interest in booklore generally and bringing about the secularization of many of the great libraries, the influence of Humanism and of the Reformation also resulted in demands that libraries be opened to the public.

H. H. Bockwitz, "Books--In Spite of Fire and Sword," The Rotarian, December 1936

Scattered among the review excerpts of a gallaxy [sic] of its titles are some fascinating bits and pieces of book lore. Do you know the origin of the words book, volume and tome? Who now is the most widely translated author?

Al, "Bookwatch," New Scientist, May 1, 1975
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

omnishambles

[ om-nuh-sham-buh lz ]

noun

Chiefly British Informal. a situation, especially in politics, in which poor judgment results in disorder or chaos with potentially disastrous consequences.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of omnishambles?

The first element of omnishambles, omni- “all,” is familiar in English in omnibus, omnipotent, omnivorous, and omniscient, derived from the Latin adjective omnis “all.” Shambles has a gorier history. In the 9th century the Old English noun scomol (spelled variously) simply meant “stool, footstool,” derived from Latin scamellum, scamillum “low stool.” By the 10th century the noun also meant “a counter or table for conducting business”; by the 14th century the word acquired the sense “table or counter for selling meat.” During the 16th century shambles came to mean “slaughterhouse; place of wholesale carnage.” Shambles in the sense “a mess, a ruin, scene of disorder” was originally an Americanism, first occurring in print in 1926.

how is omnishambles used?

The Budget, dubbed an ‘omnishambles‘ by critics, marked the government’s mid-term low point which even the triumph of the London Olympics was unable to dispel.

Michael Burton, The Politics of Austerity, 2016

Iannucci calls these characters “well-meaning but damaged individuals” and by putting them into situations of omnishambles where everything is deeply at stake, he makes a stronger satire of Washington and more entertaining television.

Marc Edward Shaw, "Veep's poetics of omnishambles," Politics and Politicians in Contemporary US Television, 2017
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

purse-proud

[ purs-proud ]

adjective

proud of one's wealth, especially in an arrogant or showy manner.

learn about the english language

What is the origin of purse-proud?

Purse-proud was first recorded in 1675–85.

how is purse-proud used?

London was still London … heavy, clumsy, arrogant, purse-proud but not cheap; insular but large; barely tolerant of an outside world, and absolutely self-confident.

Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, 1918

The fellow is a bad neighbour, and I desire, to have nothing to do with him: but as he is purse-proud, he shall pay for his insolence …

Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, 1771

SIGN UP FOR A VOCABULARY BOOST IN YOUR EMAIL

Get the Word of the Day delivered daily
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.