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a movement made in order to deceive an adversary; an attack aimed at one place or point merely as a distraction from the real place or point of attack: military feints; the feints of a skilled fencer.
The English noun feint comes from Old French feinte, a noun use of the feminine past participle of the verb feindre “to feign, pretend, dissemble.” The Old French verb comes from Latin fingere “to shape, form, fashion,” the ultimate source of English faint, fiction, figment, and effigy. Feint entered English in the 17th century.
Antagonism in my family comes wrapped in layers of code, sideways feints, full deniability.
… it always had been understood that when the Germans did decide to take the desperate risk of trying to invade England they would make a feint in a couple of places, and, having drawn off the British fleet, would direct their serious attacks somewhere else.
made entirely of wood.
The adjective treen dates to Old English (about 1000). Its original adjective meanings “made of tree (i.e., wood), wooden; pertaining to trees or a tree” are obsolete or rare in standard English. Its current sense as a noun meaning “(small) articles or utensils made of wood, woodenware” dates from the 20th century.
Much skill had they in runes, and were exceeding deft in scoring them on treen bowls, and on staves, and door-posts and roof-beams and standing-beds and such like things.
In old time we had treen chalices and golden priests; but now we have treen priests and golden chalices.
The English adjective frugivorous “fruit-eating” is used mostly in biology to describe animals that eat fruit. The first element, frugi-, is a combining form of Latin frux “fruit, crops, produce” related to the verb fruī “to enjoy the fruits or products or results of.” From the form frūg- English has frugal and frugivorous. From fructus, the past participle of fruī (from an assumed frūguī), English has fruit (from Old French, from Latin frūctus) and fructify (from Old French fructifier, from Latin frūctificāre). The second element, -vorous, ultimately comes from Latin vorāre “to swallow ravenously,” whence English has devour (from Middle French devourer, from Latin dēvorāre “to swallow down,” and voracious (from Latin vorāc-, the stem of vorax “ravenous, insatiable.” Frugivorous entered English in the 18th century.
… the frugivorous bats, and the fruit-eating quadrumana, including the gorgeous mandrill, are the most highly-coloured of the Mammalia.
Fruit, by the way, was all their diet. … while I was with them, in spite of some carnal cravings, I had to be frugivorous also.
a minor dispute or contest.
English velitation comes from Latin vēlitātiōn- (stem of vēlitātiō) “skirmish,” ultimately a derivation of vēles (stem vēlit-) “light-armed foot soldier wearing little armor, skirmisher,” which is a derivative from the adjective vēlox (stem vēlōc-) “quick, rapid, speedy” (and the source of English velocity). The vēlitēs, a specialized unit of soldiers in the ancient Roman army, were armed with swords, javelins, and small round shields and were stationed in front of the legionary lines. Before the main action began, these skirmishers threw their javelins at the enemy lines to break up their formation and then rapidly withdrew to the rear of the legionary lines. Vēlitēs as a type of soldier or unit in the Roman army were relatively brief: they are first mentioned about 211 b.c. in the dark, dark days (for Rome) of the Second Punic War (218–201 b.c.). The vēlitēs were probably formed owing to lowered property qualifications for military service in 214 b.c. and were drawn from the lowest, youngest, and poorest citizens. Vēlitēs are last mentioned in the Jugurthine War of 112-106 b.c.; presumably they were subsumed into the centuries (a company consisting of approximately 100 men) in a later reorganization of the Roman army. Velitation entered English in the 17th century.
… let him read those Pharsalian fields fought of late in France for religion, their massacres, wherein by their own relations in twenty-four years I know not how many millions have been consumed, whole families and cities, and he shall find ours to be but velitations to theirs.
While the ladies in the tea-room of the Fox Hotel were engaged in the light snappish velitation, or skirmish, which we have described, the gentlemen who remained in the parlour were more than once like to have quarrelled more seriously.
Slang. to understand thoroughly and intuitively.
Grok was coined by Robert A. Heinlein in the science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961).
Digital utopians have come in for criticism (sometimes in these pages) for failing fully to grok the messy realities of politics and the virtues of old-fashioned shoe leather in political protest …
Our gray matter is so complex, scientists lament, that it can’t quite understand itself. But if we can’t grok our own brains, maybe the machines can do it for us.
of, relating to, or having the qualities of Falstaff, especially his robust, bawdy humor, good-natured rascality, and brazen braggadocio: Falstaffian wit.
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.
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.
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.
a love of life and the living world; the affinity of human beings for other life forms.
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.
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.
… 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.