Word of the Day

Saturday, January 30, 2021

fantabulous

[ fan-tab-yuh-luhs ]

adjective

extremely fine or desirable; excellent; wonderful.

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What is the origin of fantabulous?

Fantabulous, a slang term meaning “excellent, wonderful,” is a blend of fantastic and fabulous. The word first appeared in the US in 1953, in New Zealand in 1959, and in the UK by 1961.

how is fantabulous used?

Stolen money enhanced the flavor of everything it bought, made every game of pinball more fantabulous and fun.

Brent Staples, "I Oiled the Hinges," New York Times Magazine, October 8, 1995

“It was great,” Bobby said. “Fantabulous. Thanks for taking me. It was practically the best movie I ever saw.”

Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis, 1999

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Friday, January 29, 2021

alembic

[ uh-lem-bik ]

noun

anything that transforms, purifies, or refines.

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What is the origin of alembic?

Alembic “a vessel with a beaked cap or head, formerly used in distilling,” covers quite a bit of Western civilization. It comes from Middle English alambik, alembec, lambic, lembic, from Middle French alembic, alambic and from Medieval Latin alembicus, alembicum. The English, French, and Latin forms come from Arabic al-anbīq, composed of al– “the” and anbīq “a vessel for distilling, a distilling flask, a still.” Anbīq comes via Persian from Greek ámbix (stem ámbīk-) “a vessel with a spout, an alembic.” Alembic entered English in the late 14th century.

how is alembic used?

What caused this hasty decision? Or had change formed slowly in the alembic of his discontent?

Regina O'Melveny, The Book of Madness and Cures, 2012

But the more he read the more he was astonished to find how the facts had passed through the alembic of Carlyle’s brain and had come out and fitted themselves, each as a part of one great whole, making a compact result, indestructible and unrivalled …

James T. Fields, "Some Memories of Charles Dickens," Atlantic Monthly, August 1870

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Thursday, January 28, 2021

torrential

[ taw-ren-shuhl, toh-, tuh- ]

adjective

falling in rushing, violent, or abundant and unceasing streams.

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What is the origin of torrential?

Torrential “falling in rushing, violent, or abundant and unceasing streams” is a derivative of the noun torrent. Torrent comes from the Latin noun torrens (inflectional stem torrent-) “a rushing stream, torrent.” Torrens is also a present participle meaning “scorching, burning hot,” but also, curiously, “flowing headlong, rushing, torrential,” which Latinists confess is not easily explained. Torrens comes from the verb torrēre “to heat, scorch, dry up,” from the root ters-, source also of Latin terra “land, dry land.” Torrential entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is torrential used?

The torrential downpour that drenched the city this week clogged drains and traffic.

Robert Mankoff, "Through a Glass Lightly," The New Yorker, July 16, 2014

After they had spent several nights on the street in Bogotá, her old boss had given them a room to sleep in, allowing them to escape the torrential rain that had taken over the city that week.

Julie Turkewitz, "How We Followed a 1,500-Mile Migration Journey," New York Times, December 10, 2020

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