Word of the Day

Word of the day

Thursday, November 28, 2019

foison

[ foi-zuhn ]

noun

Archaic.

abundance; plenty.

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What is the origin of foison?

The English noun foison is archaic in standard English, but it still occurs in Scottish English. Foison is a regular French phonetic development from the Vulgar Latin noun fusiō (inflectional stem fusiōn-), equivalent to the very rare Late Latin fūsiō (stem fūsiōn-) “a pouring out, effusion, melting (in metallurgy),” a derivative of the verb fundere “to pour, pour out, shed.” Foison came into English via Old French; its doublet, the English noun fusion, entered English straight from Latin in the mid-16th century. Foison entered English in the first half of the 14th century.

how is foison used?

Then delicacies and dainties were delivered to the guests, / Fresh food in foison, such freight of full dishes …

, Sir Gaiwan and the Green Knight (c1375), translated by Brian Stone, 1959
… but nature should bring forth / Of its own kind all foison, all abundance, / To feed my innocent people.
William Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1623
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Word of the day

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

postprandial

[ pohst-pran-dee-uhl ]

adjective

after a meal, especially after dinner: postprandial oratory; a postprandial brandy.

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What is the origin of postprandial?

The Latin noun prandium means “midday meal, lunch, luncheon”; the verb prandēre “to have breakfast or lunch” is a derivative of prandium. There is no Latin adjective prandiālis “pertaining to breakfast or lunch,” let alone the adjectives preprandiālis (praeprandiālis) or postprandiālis. There is, however, the Late Latin noun prandiculum “breakfast,” which is found only in lexicographical writings–a salutary warning! Postprandial is used in medicine in its literal meaning “done or happening after a meal.” Apart from medical usage postprandial is a jocular word, as in this example from George Bernard Shaw, “The whole thing was mere postprandial brag, war-game and club-fender gossip” (1917). Postprandial entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is postprandial used?

Most people seem to switch on the game a few minutes after having wolfed down their fifth slice of pie, but if you do that, there’s the cognitive dissonance of watching professional athletes and cheerleaders vigorously moving their bodies while your own body lies on the couch in a state of postprandial lethargy and bloat.

Jeff Gordinier, "Is It Inappropriate to Watch Football While Eating Thanksgiving With My Family?" New York Times, November 18, 2011

The postprandial conversation goes on until dawn.

Roberto Bolaño, Woes of the True Policeman, translated by Natasha Wimmer, 2012

Word of the day

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

stargazer

[ stahr-gey-zer ]

noun

a daydreamer.

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What is the origin of stargazer?

Stargazer originally had a very derogatory meaning. The word first appears in English in the Geneva Bible, an English translation that appeared between 1557 and 1560. In Isaiah 47:13 in the King James Version, differing only slightly from the earlier Geneva Bible, the text reads “Thou [i.e. the “virgin daughter of Babylon”] art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.” The text is scornful of idolatrous customs. In Daniel Defoe’s A system of magick (1727), we still see the same contemptuous usage as in the Geneva Bible but somewhat qualified to mean astronomer, “The Eminent Dr. H—— may be call’d the King’s Astronomer, or as the more Eminent Mr. Flamstead usually call’d himself, the King’s Star-gazer.” It is only in the first half of the 19th century that stargazer acquires the benign sense of amateur astronomer, “The mere star-gazer who is an Astronomer simply in the respect that he is the owner of a telescope.” Stargazer in the sense “daydreamer, impractical idealist” first occurs in Emerson’s Transcendentalist, “The materialist..mocks at..star-gazers and dreamers.”

how is stargazer used?

The materialist, secure in the certainty of sensation, mocks at fine-spun theories, at star-gazers and dreamers, and believes that his life is solid,

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Transcendentalist," Lecture at Masonic Temple, January 1842

He was a stargazer in both senses. … a man who questioned givens, resisted the forces of fate and tradition, saw himself as part of the picture.

Peter Standish, Understanding Julio Cortázar, 2001

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