Word of the Day

Thursday, April 26, 2018

frugivorous

[ froo-jiv-er-uhs ]

adjective

fruit-eating.

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What is the origin of frugivorous?

The English adjective frugivorous “fruit-eating” is used mostly in biology to describe animals that eat fruit. The first element, frugi-, is a combining form of Latin frux “fruit, crops, produce” related to the verb fruī “to enjoy the fruits or products or results of.” From the form frūg- English has frugal and frugivorous. From fructus, the past participle of fruī (from an assumed frūguī), English has fruit (from Old French, from Latin frūctus) and fructify (from Old French fructifier, from Latin frūctificāre). The second element, -vorous, ultimately comes from Latin vorāre “to swallow ravenously,” whence English has devour (from Middle French devourer, from Latin dēvorāre “to swallow down,” and voracious (from Latin vorāc-, the stem of vorax “ravenous, insatiable.” Frugivorous entered English in the 18th century.

how is frugivorous used?

… the frugivorous bats, and the fruit-eating quadrumana, including the gorgeous mandrill, are the most highly-coloured of the Mammalia.

Grant Allen, The Colour-Sense: Its Origin and Development, 1879

Fruit, by the way, was all their diet. … while I was with them, in spite of some carnal cravings, I had to be frugivorous also.

H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, 1895
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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

velitation

[ vel-i-tey-shuhn ]

noun

a minor dispute or contest.

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What is the origin of velitation?

English velitation comes from Latin vēlitātiōn- (stem of vēlitātiō) “skirmish,” ultimately a derivation of vēles (stem vēlit-) “light-armed foot soldier wearing little armor, skirmisher,” which is a derivative from the adjective vēlox (stem vēlōc-) “quick, rapid, speedy” (and the source of English velocity). The vēlitēs, a specialized unit of soldiers in the ancient Roman army, were armed with swords, javelins, and small round shields and were stationed in front of the legionary lines. Before the main action began, these skirmishers threw their javelins at the enemy lines to break up their formation and then rapidly withdrew to the rear of the legionary lines. Vēlitēs as a type of soldier or unit in the Roman army were relatively brief: they are first mentioned about 211 b.c. in the dark, dark days (for Rome) of the Second Punic War (218–201 b.c.). The vēlitēs were probably formed owing to lowered property qualifications for military service in 214 b.c. and were drawn from the lowest, youngest, and poorest citizens. Vēlitēs are last mentioned in the Jugurthine War of 112-106 b.c.; presumably they were subsumed into the centuries (a company consisting of approximately 100 men) in a later reorganization of the Roman army. Velitation entered English in the 17th century.

how is velitation used?

… let him read those Pharsalian fields fought of late in France for religion, their massacres, wherein by their own relations in twenty-four years I know not how many millions have been consumed, whole families and cities, and he shall find ours to be but velitations to theirs.

Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621

While the ladies in the tea-room of the Fox Hotel were engaged in the light snappish velitation, or skirmish, which we have described, the gentlemen who remained in the parlour were more than once like to have quarrelled more seriously.

Sir Walter Scott, St. Ronan's Well, 1823
Tuesday, April 24, 2018

grok

[ grok ]

verb

Slang. to understand thoroughly and intuitively.

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What is the origin of grok?

Grok was coined by Robert A. Heinlein in the science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961).

how is grok used?

Digital utopians have come in for criticism (sometimes in these pages) for failing fully to grok the messy realities of politics and the virtues of old-fashioned shoe leather in political protest …

Ben McGrath, "Nerd Parade," The New Yorker, January 30, 2012

Our gray matter is so complex, scientists lament, that it can’t quite understand itself. But if we can’t grok our own brains, maybe the machines can do it for us.

Robbie Gonzalez, "AI Just Learned How to Boost the Brain's Memory," Wired, February 6, 2018

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