Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, October 11, 2019

felicitate

[ fi-lis-i-teyt ]

verb (used with object)

to compliment upon a happy event; congratulate.

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What is the origin of felicitate?

The verb felicitate comes from Late Latin fēlīcitātus, past participle of fēlīcitāre “to make happy,” a derivative of the Latin adjective fēlix (inflectional stem fēlīc-) “fruitful, fertile, rich, auspicious, wealthy, lucky, blessed.” Related Latin words include fēcundus “fertile, fruitful” (English fecund); fēlāre “to suckle”; fēmina “woman, female” (English feminine); and fīlius and fīlia “son, daughter” (from which English has filial). The Latin forms derive from the Proto-Indo-European root dhē-, dhēi-, dhi– “to suck, suckle.” From that root Sanskrit has dhāya– “nourishing,” dhātrī “wet nurse, mother,” and dhḗnā “milch cow.” Greek has thēlḗ “mother’s breast, nipple,” thḗnion “milk,” tithḗnē (also títhē) “wet nurse.” Among the Celtic languages, Old Irish has dīnu “lamb” and the verb dīth “(he) sucked”; Breton has denaff “(I) suck,” and Welsh dynu “(to) suck.” Felicitate entered English in the first half of the 17th century.

how is felicitate used?

Mrs. Smithers, you will also permit me to felicitate you upon this happy event.

John Kendrick Bangs, Coffee and Repartee, 1893

The novelists appear to felicitate themselves in all sincerity upon their success …

Thomas R. Lounsbury, "Differences in English and American Usage," Harper's Monthly Magazine, Vol. 127, June–November 1913
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Word of the day

Thursday, October 10, 2019

biomorph

[ bahy-oh-mawrf ]

noun

a painted, drawn, or sculptured free form or design suggestive in shape of a living organism, especially an ameba or protozoan: The paintings of Joan Miró are often notable for their playful, bright-colored biomorphs.

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What is the origin of biomorph?

Biomorph is easily broken down to the combining forms bio– and –morph, both Greek in origin and both thoroughly naturalized in English. Bio– comes from Greek bíos “life, mode of life, the world we live in” (bíos does not mean “animal life,” which is zōḗ). The combining form –morph comes from the Greek combining form –morphós, a derivative of the noun morphḗ “form, shape, beauty.” Morphḗ may perhaps be related to Latin forma, perhaps via Etruscan (the usual suspect). Biomorph entered English at the end of the 19th century.

how is biomorph used?

She painted biomorphs and wonky grids within the defined parameters of the picture plane ….

Tess Thackara, "The Brief, Transformative Career of Eva Hesse," Artsy, September 3, 2019

There is nothing bitter or sweet about this antsy, unnamable biomorph; refusing to stay put in its own painterly space, it reels … into ours — willfully rude and buoyantly playful, a jolt of unalloyed energy.

Thomas Micchelli, "Elizabeth Murray, Force of Nature," Hyperallergic, January 14, 2017
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Word of the day

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

lambent

[ lam-buhnt ]

adjective

dealing lightly and gracefully with a subject; brilliantly playful: lambent wit.

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What is the origin of lambent?

Lambent comes straight from Latin lambent-, the inflectional stem of the present participle lambēns, from the verb lambere “to lick, (of food or liquid) lick up, suck up, absorb.” Lambere has the transferred senses “(of fire) to play upon, lick,” “(of water) to wash, bathe,” and “(of creeping plants) to surround, wreathe.” The only English sense deriving from the Latin is “running or moving lightly over a surface”; the other senses, including “dealing lightly and gracefully with a subject,” developed within English. Lambent entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is lambent used?

There is the lightning wit that flashes of a short sentence or an apt reply, and there is the lambent wit that sparkles either by description or dialogue.

Walter Sydney Sichel, "The Wit and Humour of Lord Beaconsfield," Macmillan's Magazine, Vol. 44, May–October 1881

He goes to Oxford, where his lambent gift of tongues is recognized and encouraged, and then to war, where everything he values is laid waste.

Anthony Lane, "Why Make Movies About Writers," The New Yorker, May 10, 2019
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