Word of the Day

Thursday, May 03, 2018

forgetive

[ fawr-ji-tiv, fohr- ]

adjective

Archaic. inventive; creative.

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What is the origin of forgetive?

At first glance forgetive looks like a derivative of forget, to be pronounced with a hard g, accented on the second syllable, and meaning something like “forgetful.” It is, however, a coinage by Shakespeare, and appears in Henry IV, Part 2 (1596-99). Forgetive, obscure in its etymology and meaning, is usually interpreted as a derivation of the verb forge “to beat into shape, form by hammering” and meaning “creative, inventive.”

how is forgetive used?

O quick and forgetive power!

Dante Alighieri (written c. 1308–21), The Vision: or, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, of Dante Alighieri, translated by Henry Francis Cary, 1814

A good sherris-sack hath a two-fold operation in it. It … makes it apprehensive quick, forgetive, full of nimble fiery and delectable shapes …

William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2, 1623

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Wednesday, May 02, 2018

pococurante

[ poh-koh-koo-ran-tee, -rahn-, -kyoo- ]

noun

a careless or indifferent person.

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What is the origin of pococurante?

The English noun and adjective pococurante is a straightforward borrowing from Italian, even retaining its Italian pronunciation. Pococurante in both languages means “caring little, indifferent.” The first element poco in Italian is an indefinite adjective and adverb meaning “little, a little,” descended from the Latin adjective paucus “few” (the Latin adjective is related to Gothic fawai, Old English fēawe, and Middle English fewe, all plural adjectives of indefinite quantity meaning “few”). The Italian adjective curante is the present participle of the verb curare (the Latin forms are cūrant- and cūrāre) “to watch over, look after, cure.” The Latin verb is a derivative of the noun cūra “worry, concern, object of care,” of unknown etymology. Pococurante entered English in the 18th century.

how is pococurante used?

“I believe you are misinformed, sir,” said Jekyl dryly, and then resumed as deftly as he could, his proper character of a pococurante.

Sir Walter Scott, St. Ronan's Well, 1823

Calling a careless person a “pococurante” or other fancy name will not, by the precision of the term, suddenly make the careless careful.

Jeff VanderMeer, The Third Bear, 2010
Tuesday, May 01, 2018

tussie-mussie

[ tuhs-ee-muhs-ee ]

noun

a small bunch of flowers or herbs.

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What is the origin of tussie-mussie?

There is no clear etymology for tussie-mussie “bunch of flowers, nosegay.” The Middle English form, tusemose, and the 17th-century form tussimussie, suggest an assumed Middle English tus or tusse “cluster of flowers.” Tussie-mussie entered English in the mid-15th century.

how is tussie-mussie used?

The world would be a kinder and gentler place if we all exchanged tussie-mussies instead of badmouthing people behind their backs or unfriending them on Facebook.

Claire Cook, The Wildwater Walking Club: Back on Track, 2017

When those were finished, they turned to the tussie-mussies–handheld herbal nosegays in which each plant has a special significance–for the women guests.

Susan Wittig Albert, Lavender Lies, 1999
Monday, April 30, 2018

Machiavellian

[ mak-ee-uh-vel-ee-uhn ]

adjective

characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty: He resorted to Machiavellian tactics in order to get ahead.

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What is the origin of Machiavellian?

Machiavellian is an adjective derived from Machiavelli, the family name of the Florentine diplomat, historian, and political philosopher Niccolò Bernardo Machiavelli (1469–1527). He wrote his most famous work The Prince (Il Principe) in 1513 while in exile from Florence. Machiavellian entered English in the 16th century.

how is Machiavellian used?

I need to tell you about my shamefully Machiavellian motive for sending her packing and the subdolous way in which her death facilitated my crowning achievement.

Clanash Farjeon, A Handbook for Attendants on the Insane: The Autobiography of 'Jack the Ripper' as Revealed to Clanash Farjeon, 2003

The doctor’s mind pursued its own schemes with Machiavellian subtlety.

Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, 1904
Sunday, April 29, 2018

vagility

[ vuh-jil-i-tee ]

noun

Biology. the ability of an organism to move about freely and migrate.

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What is the origin of vagility?

The rare English adjective vagile is restricted to biology and refers to an organism’s being able to scatter or be scattered in an environment. The English adjective comes from German vagil, of the same meaning. The German adjective derives from Latin vagus “wandering, roaming.” The German suffix -il and the English suffix -ile come directly from Latin -ilis, -ile; the English suffix -ity comes from Latin -itat- (the stem of -itās) via Old French -te (French -té). Vagility entered English in the 20th century.

how is vagility used?

Using the GPS collars that updated an animal’s location regularly and other data, the project found that vagility—the ability of an organism to move—declines in areas with human footprints by as much as half to two-thirds the distance than in places where there is little or no human activity.

Jim Robbins, "Animals Are Losing Their Vagility, or Ability to Roam Freely," New York Times, February 19, 2018

With this combination of low vagility and narrow habitat requirements, the mayfly faunas of islands around New Zealand provide a unique opportunity to investigate the effects of isolation, dispersal ability and the response of communities to reduced diversity.

D. R. Towns, "The mayflies (Ephemeroptera) of Great Barrier Island, New Zealand: macro- and micro-distributional comparisons," Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Volume 17, 1987
Saturday, April 28, 2018

feint

[ feynt ]

noun

a movement made in order to deceive an adversary; an attack aimed at one place or point merely as a distraction from the real place or point of attack: military feints; the feints of a skilled fencer.

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What is the origin of feint?

The English noun feint comes from Old French feinte, a noun use of the feminine past participle of the verb feindre “to feign, pretend, dissemble.” The Old French verb comes from Latin fingere “to shape, form, fashion,” the ultimate source of English faint, fiction, figment, and effigy. Feint entered English in the 17th century.

how is feint used?

Antagonism in my family comes wrapped in layers of code, sideways feints, full deniability.

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves, 2013

… it always had been understood that when the Germans did decide to take the desperate risk of trying to invade England they would make a feint in a couple of places, and, having drawn off the British fleet, would direct their serious attacks somewhere else.

, "Coast Attack Expected," New York Times, December 17, 1914
Friday, April 27, 2018

treen

[ tree-uhn ]

adjective

made entirely of wood.

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What is the origin of treen?

The adjective treen dates to Old English (about 1000). Its original adjective meanings “made of tree (i.e., wood), wooden; pertaining to trees or a tree” are obsolete or rare in standard English. Its current sense as a noun meaning “(small) articles or utensils made of wood, woodenware” dates from the 20th century.

how is treen used?

Much skill had they in runes, and were exceeding deft in scoring them on treen bowls, and on staves, and door-posts and roof-beams and standing-beds and such like things.

William Morris, The Roots of the Mountains, 1889

In old time we had treen chalices and golden priests; but now we have treen priests and golden chalices.

John Jewel (1522–1571), "Sermon on Haggai," The Works of John Jewel, 1847

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