Word of the Day

Word of the day

Saturday, December 11, 2021

filiopietistic

[ fil-ee-oh-pahy-i-tis-tik ]

adjective

of or relating to reverence of forebears or tradition, especially if carried to excess.

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What is the origin of filiopietistic?

Filiopietistic “of or relating to reverence of forebears” is a compound of the Latin noun fīlius “son” and the adjective pietistic “intense in religious devotion,” the latter of which derives ultimately from Latin pius “pious.” Fīlius is also the source of the English terms affiliate “to bring into close connection,” filial “of or relating to a son or daughter,” and even the Anglo-Norman element Fitz “(illegitimate) son of” that appears in many surnames of English and Irish origin, such as Fitzgerald and Fitzwilliam. Pius is the root of pious as well as expiate “to make amends for” and may be related to pūrus “clear, clean,” the source of pure. Filiopietistic was first recorded in English in the early 1890s.

how is filiopietistic used?

Nationalist historians … wrote in a spirit of respect for their forefathers. Others went far beyond them and created another school of interpretation in which respect became a form of reverence. They inspired critics to coin a new word: “filiopietistic,” having an excess of filial piety .… In some of its forms, filiopietism was benign and highly constructive. It stimulated interest in early American history and supported serious scholarship on the American Revolution .… But in other ways filiopietism could become malignant, when it shifted from celebration of one’s forebears to execration of others.

David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing, 2004

Since Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical became a Broadway sensation and made the 1804 Burr-Hamilton duel “of the moment,” the field of Revolutionary and early republican American history has found itself caught in the crossfire. For those who prefer it that way, the men in powdered wigs are no longer dead white guys; they’re streetwise. It all sounds new, but it’s not. Every generation has refashioned the Founders in its own image, mixing patriotic lore with filiopietistic tales to enshrine America’s cherished ideals.

Nancy Isenberg, "Beneath the Powdered Wig," American Scholar, September 23, 2020

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Word of the day

Friday, December 10, 2021

babushka

[ buh-boosh-kuh, -boosh- ]

noun

an elderly Russian woman, especially an elderly grandmother.

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What is the origin of babushka?

Babushka “an elderly Russian woman” is a borrowing from Russian bábushka “grandmother,” equivalent to bába “old woman” and -ushka, a diminutive suffix. Bába is but one example of the innumerable kinship terms that originated from baby talk; the bilabial consonants b, m, and p are among the first sounds that infants acquire, and these three sounds are the bases of the words for “father” and “mother,” as well as for other elder relatives, in multiple language families. It is not a coincidence that the word for “mother” in Basque (ama), Hawaiian (makuahine), Hebrew (ímma), Latin (māter), Korean (eomi), Mandarin Chinese (mǔqīn), Navajo (amá), and Quechua (mama) all contain the letter m even though these languages are unrelated. Babushka was first recorded in English in the late 1930s.

how is babushka used?

The singing Babushkas of Buranova have made a name for themselves, first as an Internet sensation and then at the Eurovision competition this year .… Babushka is Russian for grandmother and these women are mostly in their 70s and 80s. Their story is sadly familiar in Russia. Many of these elderly women lost their husbands years ago to alcoholism or hard work. Searching for companionship, the babushkas of Buranova turned to one another and to music.

David Greene, as quoted in “Babushkas Sing For The Good Of Their Village,” NPR, July 15, 2012

My own Siberian-born babushka, it must be said, does not go to the trouble of stewing short ribs for eight hours when she makes borscht. Nor does any babushka in my circle incorporate delectably astringent homemade garlic mayo into her spin on herring under a fur coat, an already laborious dish that involves prepping and layering potatoes, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, and beets atop pickled herring.

David Kortava, "Taking Care with Babushka Classics, at Tzarevna," The New Yorker, September 3, 2021

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Word of the day

Thursday, December 09, 2021

eradicate

[ ih-rad-i-keyt ]

verb (used with object)

to remove or destroy utterly; extirpate.

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What is the origin of eradicate?

Eradicate “to remove or destroy utterly” comes from the Latin verb ērādīcāre “to root out,” a compound of ē- “out” and rādīx “root.” Other derivatives of rādīx include radical, the primary sense of which is “of or going to the root or origin,” and radish, an edible root. The ultimate origin of rādīx is the Proto-Indo-European root wrād- “branch, root,” which is also the source of English root, wort, and orchard; Latin rāmus “branch” (as in ramify); and Ancient Greek rhíza “root” (as in the combining form rhizo- and the noun licorice, the latter from Ancient Greek glykýrriza “sweet root”). Eradicate was first recorded in English circa 1560.

how is eradicate used?

Four years ago, Pakistan had more than 300 cases of polio. And the government, the United Nations and aid groups started a campaign to eradicate the virus. It is not easy because in order to vaccinate a kid, you need to find the kid several times over many weeks and give several doses of vaccine. So now every few weeks, almost half a million people are going out and trying to vaccinate 38 million children. Things are looking good. There’s only been one polio case this year, but getting down to zero is tough.

Steve Inskeep, as quoted in “Pakistan Still Struggles To Eradicate Polio,” NPR, May 18, 2018

Since 2008, Argentina and Chile have agreed that to save their southernmost forests, they must rid them of beavers. Some hunters working to eradicate beavers use snares in addition to rifles. But beavers are smart—they sometimes use weeds and sticks to trigger the snares without getting caught themselves.

Haley Cohen Gilliland, "Argentina brought beavers to Tierra del Fuego. It was not a good idea," National Geographic, July 25, 2019

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