Word of the Day

Sunday, November 04, 2018

fillip

[ fil-uhp ]

noun

anything that tends to rouse, excite, or revive; a stimulus: Praise is an excellent fillip for waning ambition.

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What is the origin of fillip?

Fillip is imitative, or onomatopoeic, in origin. Earlier forms include filip, fylippe, philip, and phillip. Fillip looks like a variant of flip, but flip is first recorded in the late 17th century, whereas fillip dates from the 16th.

how is fillip used?

It is so pleasant to receive a fillip of excitement when suffering from the dull routine of everyday life!

Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers, 1857

His ordinary government allowance of spirits, one gill per diem, is not enough to give a sufficient fillip to his listless senses …

Herman Melville, White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War, 1850
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Saturday, November 03, 2018

grumphie

[ gruhm-fee, groom-pee ]

noun

Chiefly Scot. a familiar name for a pig.

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What is the origin of grumphie?

Grumphie is an exclusively Scottish word, first used by Robert Burns (1759-96). Grumphie is formed from the verb grumph “to grunt” and is imitative of the typical sound pigs and some humans make. The suffix -ie is a spelling variant of -y, one of whose functions is to form endearing or familiar names like Billy, doggy (doggie), and sweetie. Grumphie entered English in the late 18th century.

how is grumphie used?

Grumphie smells the weather, / An’ grumphie sees the wun’; / He kens when clouds will gather, / An’ smoor the blinikin’ sun.” This extravagant tribute to the pig as a weather prophet is typical of a large number of proverbs, though, perhaps no other animal has been credited with actually seeing the wind.

W. J. Humphreys, "Some Weather Proverbs and Their Justification," The Popular Science Monthly, January 1911

If ye’re proud to be a grumphie clap yer trotters!

Alastair D. McIver, Glasgow Fairytale, 2010
Friday, November 02, 2018

univocal

[ yoo-niv-uh-kuhl, yoo-nuh-voh- ]

adjective

having only one meaning; unambiguous.

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What is the origin of univocal?

Like its cousin equivocal, univocal derives from the Latin vōx meaning “voice.” Whereas the prefix equi- means “equal,” uni- means “one.” Univocal dates to 1535–45.

how is univocal used?

When then-Fox News chief Roger Ailes was presented with allegations of sexual harassment — first in a bombshell lawsuit, later in published reports — his response was univocal: Deny, deny, deny.

Erik Wemple, "Harvey Weinstein's puzzling legal threat against the New York Times," Washington Post, October 6, 2017

For any given element–event, character, development–is never simply univocal or one-sided but generally has two or more valences: it is serious and ironic, pathos-charged and parodic, apocalyptic and farcical, critical and self-critical.

Dominick LaCapra, History, Politics, and the Novel, 1987

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