Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, July 16, 2021

flapdoodle

[ flap-dood-l ]

noun

nonsense; bosh.

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What is the origin of flapdoodle?

Flapdoodle, “nonsense; bosh,” is a colloquialism that first appeared in print in 1834 along with a definition: “It’s the stuff they feed fools on.” Flapdoodle has no reliable etymology; the meaning of flap is pure conjecture, but some scholars suggest that doodle has its archaic sense “a fool, silly person.” Mark Twain uses flapdoodle in chapter 25 of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884): “…[the King] works himself up and slobbers out a speech, all full of tears and flapdoodle about its being a sore trial for him and his poor brother….”

how is flapdoodle used?

But Shlaes suavely dismisses the notion that Coolidge bears responsibility for the Great Depression and suggests his work was “complete, ready as a kind of blessing for another era.”

This is flapdoodle. No, Coolidge was not single-handedly culpable for the economic calamity of the 1930s. But neither can he be safely extracted from the ruin that followed his presidency.

Jacob Heilbrunn, "The Great Refrainer," New York Times, February 14, 2013

At home, a day later, too jet-lagged to think straight, I watch the “Da Vinci Code” movie for the first time. Now, I remember some silly flapdoodle about vessels and chalices and secret societies, but not much else. Nothing, it seems, rubbed off on me.

Philip Kennicott, "I had never seen Leonardo's 'Last Supper.' A quick visit left a lasting impression." Washington Post, May 2, 2019

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Word of the day

Thursday, July 15, 2021

insouciant

[ in-soo-see-uhnt; French an-soo-syahn ]

adjective

free from concern, worry, or anxiety; carefree; nonchalant.

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What is the origin of insouciant?

Insouciant, “free from concern or anxiety; carefree; nonchalant,” comes straight from French insouciant, literally “not caring,” a compound of the French negative prefix in– “not” (from Latin in-, and naturalized in English in– from both Latin and French borrowings), and the present participle souciant “caring,” from the verb soucier “to trouble, care.” Soucier comes from Vulgar Latin sollicītāre “to worry, vex,” from Latin sollicitāre “to disturb, harass.” The French noun souci “care, worry” is part of the phrase sans souci “without worries, carefree,” which, spelled Sanssouci, is the name of the summer palace built by King Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, between 1745 and 1747. Insouciant entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is insouciant used?

And while I expected to meet people electrified by political change, I mainly encountered cautious optimism mixed with insouciant shrugs toward the politicians.

Sebastian Modak, "Don't Sleep on Tunis, a City That's More Awake Than Ever Before," New York Times, October 29, 2019

She preferred to take the more insouciant attitude of an old veteran who has been there, done that, seen it all. “I’ve won so many grand slam titles. And I’m at a position where I don’t need to win another Wimbledon,” she smiled.

Alan Baldwin, "I don't need to win another Wimbledon, says Serena," Reuters, July 9, 2015

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Word of the day

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Gallicism

[ gal-uh-siz-uhm ]

noun

a French idiom or expression used in another language, as Je ne sais quoi when used in English.

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What is the origin of Gallicism?

Gallicism has three related meanings in English: The first one is “a French phrase or idiom used in another language,” as when in English one says Je ne sais quoi, meaning “an indefinable, elusive quality” (literally, “I don’t know what”); the second meaning is “a feature characteristic of or peculiar to the French language”; and the third, “a custom or trait considered to be characteristically French.” Gallicism comes via French gallicisme from the Latin adjective Gallicus “pertaining to Gaul (modern France, roughly) or the Gauls.” Gallicism entered English just after the middle of the 17th century.

how is Gallicism used?

With regard to mise-en-scene, Mr. William Archer … raises the difficulty that if you represent the Gallicism by an Americanism and speak of “staging,” you are still in the difficulty that you cannot substitute a cognate word for metteur-en-scene.

G. W. Dancy, "Critics' Gallicisms," The Theatre, November 1, 1890

True, she has cultivated a public persona that borders on self-parody, puffing on Marlboro Lights as she speaks, her conversation spiked with thorny Gallicisms. “C’est pas possible!” she will say of the scores of bloggers preening at Lincoln Center during Fashion Week.

Ruth La Ferla, "Carlyn Cerf de Dudzeele: A Legend Who’s Unafraid to Say So," New York Times, November 13, 2013

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