Word of the Day

Saturday, June 15, 2019

fruitlet

[ froot-lit ]

noun

Botany.

a small fruit, especially one of those forming an aggregate fruit, as the raspberry.

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What is the origin of fruitlet?

Fruitlet is a perfectly transparent word, used as a technical term in botany. The first syllable, fruit, comes from Old French fruit, a regular development from Latin frūctus “enjoyment, produce, results.” The diminutive suffix –let comes from Middle French –elet, from Latin –āle (the neuter of the adjective suffix –ālis), or from the Latin diminutive suffix –ellus and the Old French noun suffix –et (-ette). Fruitlet entered English in the second half of the 19th century.

how is fruitlet used?

… in the raspberry the separate fruitlets are all crowded close together into a single united mass, while in the strawberry they are scattered about loosely, and embedded in the soft flesh of the receptacle.

Grant Allen, The Evolutionist at Large, 1881

… the eyes, or diamond fruitlets, on the surface have soft or smooth tips.

Mimi Sheraton, "A Guide to Choosing a Ripe Pineapple," New York Times, April 21, 1982
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Friday, June 14, 2019

undulate

[ uhn-juh-leyt, uhn-dyuh-, -duh- ]

verb (used without object)

to move with a sinuous or wavelike motion; display a smooth rising-and-falling or side-to-side alternation of movement: The flag undulates in the breeze.

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What is the origin of undulate?

Something that undulates, as a flag or rhythm, moves side to side or rises and falls like a wave. Indeed, its origin is Latin unda “wave,” via undulātus “waved, wavy,” composed of ula, a diminutive suffix, and –ātus, a past participle suffix. Unda also yields English abound, abundant, inundate, redound, redundant, and surround. Latin unda in turn comes from the Proto-Indo-European root wed– “water, wet,” ultimate source of the names of two substances that may cause some to undulate, as it were, on their feet: vodka (via Russian) and whiskey (Irish or Scots Gaelic). Best to stay hydrated, another derivative of wed-, via Greek hýdōr “water.” Undulate entered English in the 1600s.

how is undulate used?

At the end, the national anthem is played, and our flag undulates all day on its very tall mast and unfurls as it ascends majestically.

José de la Luz Sáenz (1888–1953), The World War I Diary of José de la Luz Sáenz, translated by Emilio Zamora with Ben Maya, 2014

There is a strange, dull glow to the east, from the sea; it undulates softly, rotates, like a net that has captured nothing.

Lori Baker, The Glass Ocean, 2013
Thursday, June 13, 2019

lulu

[ loo-loo ]

noun

any remarkable or outstanding person or thing.

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What is the origin of lulu?

Lulu was originally a piece of American slang. Slang terms have notoriously difficult origins, and lulu, also spelled loulou and looly, has no reliable etymology. Lulu first entered English in the mid-1850s.

how is lulu used?

… Marty loved to point out any big or little step and say to her, “Watch out. It’s a lulu.”

Bill Gaston, "A Work-in-Progress," Gargoyles, 2006

I started to work at the knot, which was a lulu.

Rex Stout, The League of Frightened Men, 1935

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