Word of the Day

Word of the day

Monday, October 11, 2021

fartlek

[ fahrt-lek ]

noun

a training technique, used especially among runners, consisting of bursts of intense effort loosely alternating with less strenuous activity.

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What is the origin of fartlek?

Fartlek “a training technique consisting of bursts of intense effort” is a direct borrowing from Swedish and comprises the elements fart “speed” and lek “play.” Fart is cognate with the English verb fare “to go, travel,” as found in the nouns warfare, wayfarer, and welfare, from a Proto-Indo-European root per- “to pass over.” Other derivatives from this root include port, portable, and portal (via Latin porta “door, gate” and portāre “to carry”) and pore and emporium (via Ancient Greek póros “passage”). Lek may be related to English lark “a carefree adventure; to have fun” but has a far more popular relative: LEGO, the name of a brand of interlocking plastic bricks, from Danish leg godt “to play well.” Fartlek was first recorded in English in the 1950s.

how is fartlek used?

Fartlek running is racing then recovering and so on. It became harder to race at a certain distance, and then slow to recover, then race again. At the moment his training was racing for half a mile then recovering for the next quarter. It was damned tough, but if he could get below three hours it would be worth every ounce of sweat and tears.

P. A. McAllister, In The Long Run, 2013

We head back and Sam puts me through another kind of torture, this time a Swedish interval training technique called ‘Fartlek‘—a word I’d find funny if the training weren’t so exhausting—where I have to sprint then jog alternately between the lampposts that all too frequently for my liking line the promenade.

Matt Dunn, The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook, 2006

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Word of the day

Sunday, October 10, 2021

toujours perdrix

[ too-zhoor per-dree ]

too much of a good thing.

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What is the origin of toujours perdrix?

Toujours perdrix “too much of a good thing” is a direct borrowing of two French words: toujours “always” and perdrix “partridge.” Toujours derives from an Old French phrase meaning “all days” and is equivalent to Modern French tous jours. Tous (masculine singular tout) comes from Latin tōtus “whole, entire,” which is also the source of total and the Italian flavor tutti frutti “all fruits,” while jours (singular jour) comes from Latin diurnus “daily, of the day,” derivatives of which include diurnal and journal. The phrase toujours perdrix is allegedly connected to King Henri IV of France, whose spiritual adviser loved to eat partridge but, upon being served partridge for every meal, grew tired, frustrated, and spiteful of the dish. Toujours perdrix was first recorded in English in the early 1800s.

how is toujours perdrix used?

His new landlady’s ideas on the subject of cooking were of the most limited character. She gave him weak tea and bacon for breakfast without any apparent consciousness of the fact that such luxuries pall upon the taste by constant repetition, and that a diet of toujours perdrix wearies the meekest soul.

Margaret Oliphant Wilson, The Three Brothers, 1870

Quitting Auxerre, we passed a large stone cistern, with a cross on the top; several loaded donkeys were drinking here, and some women washing clothes; it was altogether a picturesque group, and singular to an English eye. Vineyards, vineyards, vineyards! toujours perdrix! I was quite tired of them at last.

Marianne Baillie, First Impressions on a Tour Upon the Continent in the Summer of 1818, 1819

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Word of the day

Saturday, October 09, 2021

armscye

[ ahrm-sahy, -zahy ]

noun

the armhole opening in a garment through which the hand, and then the arm, passes, and to which a sleeve may be attached.

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What is the origin of armscye?

Armscye “the armhole opening in a garment” is a compound of arm and the Scots term scye “armhole.” Because scye is a borrowing from another dialect and of unknown origin, a common misinterpretation is that armscye derives from a phrase such as “arm’s eye.” This mistake is known as an eggcorn, which is a type of folk etymology that refers to the alteration of a word or phrase that has been misheard or misinterpreted. The word eggcorn itself comes from a mistaken belief that acorn, which is of Old English origin, is a recent compound of Modern English egg and corn. Other eggcorns that may ring a bell include free reign instead of the correct free rein and for all intensive purposes instead of the correct for all intents and purposes. Armscye was first recorded in English in the 1920s.

how is armscye used?

Whatever his errands were in the city, they’d involved having his beard trimmed and changing into a suit of new clothes, a sad grey-blue that well suited his olive complexion. Lightning-like lines of gold lace picked out the seams …. [I]t was only at close quarters that you could see the coarseness of the weave and the straining lines across the back under the armscye that told of poor tailoring.

Suzannah Rowntree, The City Beyond the Glass, 2018

And then I saw the muscles bunched in his shoulders that had strained the threads of the armscye apart, the heft of his chest, the improbable narrowness of his hips. Hero, with wing, grounded.

Guy Davenport, "A Field of Snow on the Slope of the Rosenberg," DaVinci's Bicycle, 1979

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