Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

fantast

[ fan-tast ]

noun

a visionary or dreamer.

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What is the origin of fantast?

Fantast, “a visionary or dreamer,” comes via German Fantast, Phantast (with the same meaning), via Medieval Latin phantasta, from Greek phantastḗs “an ostentatious person, boaster” (that is, someone who talks about their exaggerated fantasies). Phantastḗs ultimately derives from the verb phantázein “to make visible, present to the eye or mind” and phantázesthai “to become visible, appear.” Fantast entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is fantast used?

It would be difficult to describe Browne adequately; exuberant in conception and conceit, dignified, hyper-latinistic, a quiet and sublime enthusiast; yet a fantast, a humourist, a brain with a twist ….

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Style," from "Fragments and Notes, Mainly from the Lectures of 1818," in Miscellanies, Aesthetic and Literary, 1885

The fantast cannot be taken seriously; he does not even take himself seriously. He kicks his good through all the conventions of all the schools, and invokes “a plague on both your houses” whether of idealism or realism.

"Chemicoscapes: The Fantast," The Chemist and the Druggist, December 22, 1894

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Word of the day

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

wampish

[ wam-pish, wahm- ]

verb (used without object)

to wave about or flop to and fro.

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What is the origin of wampish?

Wampish,“to wave (one’s arms) about; flop to and fro,” is an exclusively Scots word, first appearing in Sir Walter Scott’s The Antiquary, the third of his The Waverley Novels (1816). Wampish has no clear etymology and is probably of imitative or onomatopoeic origin.

how is wampish used?

But yet his gear was o’ the goude
As it waved and wampished in the wind; And the coal-black steed he rode upon,
It was fleeter than the bonny hind.

James Hogg, "Ballad of Sir Colin Brand," The Three Perils of Man, 1822

He “wampished” his arms over his head, and shouted “Habbocraws” at the pitch of his voice—the gravity of every one being completely upset by the occurrence.

Alexander Hislop, "Habbocraws." The Book of Scottish Anecdote, 1874

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Word of the day

Monday, July 05, 2021

au fond

[ oh -fawn ]

adverb

at bottom or to the bottom; thoroughly; in reality; fundamentally.

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What is the origin of au fond?

The French adverb phrase au fond, “thoroughly; in reality; fundamentally,” literally “at the bottom, to the bottom,” has been in English for more than 200 years; yet its French pronunciation in English shows that it is still unnaturalized. The French phrase is composed of au “at the, to the,” from Old French al, which is a contraction of a le, from Latin ad “to” and illum “that” (illum and its relatives become the definite article in most Romance languages). The French noun fond “bottom, floor, background (for lacework)” comes from Latin fundus “bottom, base, depths, farm, country estate.” The Latin noun is the source of the verb fundāre “to lay a foundation,” which becomes fonder in Old French, founden, fonden, funden in Middle English, and found, i.e., “establish firmly,” in modern English. Au fond entered English toward the end of the 18th century.

how is au fond used?

Some days I see myself as the Recording Angel, collecting together all the sins of Gilead, including mine; on other days I shrug off this high moral tone. Am I not, au fond, merely a dealer in sordid gossip?

Margaret Atwood, The Testaments, 2019

A diamond Cartier feather is, au fond, a fake feather, but I doubt that any severely pro-authenticity proprietress of one of those earnest, soulless spaces would throw one in the trash.

Nicky Haslam, "In Design, Now Is the Time for All Materials to be Treated Equally," New York Times, March 9, 2016

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