• Word of the day
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    Thursday, March 29, 2018

    gadzookery

    noun [gad-zoo-kuh-ree]
    British. the use or overuse of period-specific or archaic expressions, as in a historical novel.
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    What is the origin of gadzookery?

    Gadzookery was first recorded in 1950–1955.

    How is gadzookery used?

    The language is convincing, and free of the gadzookery of Elizabethan pastiche. Charles Nicholl, "Exiting the Stage," New York Times, January 25, 2013

    Several other stories and verses that they jointly contributed to magazines are historical and melodramatic in tone, larded with archaic oaths and exclamations and general gadzookery. Julia Briggs, A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit, 1987

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, March 28, 2018

    timeserver

    noun [tahym-sur-ver]
    a person who shapes his or her conduct to conform to the opinions of the time or of persons in power, especially for selfish ends.
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    What is the origin of timeserver?

    Timeserver was first recorded in 1565–75.

    How is timeserver used?

    He was labeled unreliable. He could even be thought a double-dealer or timeserver. Eitaro Ishizawa, "Too Much About Too Many," Ellery Queen's Japanese Golden Dozen, 1978

    “I couldn't marry Belinda to a time-server or a palace-worshipper,” said the King decidedly. Edith Nesbit, The Magic World, 1912

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, March 27, 2018

    kismet

    noun [kiz-mit, -met, kis-]
    fate; destiny.
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    What is the origin of kismet?

    The English noun kismet “fate” comes straight from Turkish kismet, which in turn comes from Persian qismat, from Arabic qisma, qismat- “lot,” from qasama “(he) divided,” from the (West) Semitic root qsm- “to divide, allot.” Long before the arrival of Islam, Persian was used as an imperial administrative and literary language, contributing to the vocabulary of neighboring languages, especially the Turkic languages of Anatolia, central Asia, and some Indo-Aryan languages of the Indian subcontinent, especially Urdu. These languages received terms relating to Islam indirectly via Persian rather than directly from Arabic. Kismet entered English in the 19th century.

    How is kismet used?

    In the way that a randomly shuffled song on your headphones can feel like thrilling kismet, suddenly, this semi-animate speaker seemed to belong in my home. Sarah Larson, "Yelling at Amazon's Alexa," The New Yorker, October 6, 2016

    It was kismet that it happened with you, and today! Orhan Pamuk, The Black Book, translated by Güneli Gün, 1994

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, March 26, 2018

    genethliac

    adjective [juh-neth-lee-ak]
    Astrology. of or relating to birthdays or to the position of the stars at one's birth.
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    What is the origin of genethliac?

    If any word occurs exclusively in grad school seminars, papers, theses, and dissertations, genethliac is that word. The Latin adjective and noun genethliacus “pertaining to one’s hour of birth or a birthday; an astrologer who calculates such an hour or day,” is an extension of the Greek adjective genethliakós “pertaining to a birthday.” Latin also possesses a noun genethliacon “birthday poem,” derived from but not existing in Greek. Birthdays and birthday celebrations were bigger affairs among Roman men than among the Greeks because one’s birthday also involved the cult of the genius, the attendant spirit or “guardian angel,” so to speak, of every freeborn male but especially of the paterfamilias. Latin genethliaca “birthday poems” arose as a distinct genre in the first century b.c. Genethliac entered English in the 16th century.

    How is genethliac used?

    ... the mathematicians allow the very same horoscope to princes and to sots: whereof a right pregnant instance by them is given in the nativities of Æneas and Choræbus; the latter of which two is by Euphorion said to have been a fool; and yet had, with the former, the same aspects and heavenly genethliac influences. François Rabelais, The Third Book of Pantagruel, translated by John Ozell, 1738

    ... Augustine particularly insists on the case of twins, whose fates ought to be identical, if the genethliac theory were true ... Sir George Cornewall Lewis, An Historical Survey of the Astronomy of the Ancients, 1862

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, March 25, 2018

    ariose

    adjective [ar-ee-ohs, ar-ee-ohs]
    characterized by melody; songlike.
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    What is the origin of ariose?

    Ariose was first recorded in 1735–45. It is an Anglicized variant of Italian arioso.

    How is ariose used?

    He turned and looked at her, concern for her making his ariose voice a bit rougher than usual ... Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, A Feast in Exile, 2001

    ... he loosed the ariose floods of his voice, till a gusty song of the spring-time seemed to fill the garden. James Maurice Thompson, "The Mill of God," Scott's Monthly Magazine, July 1869

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, March 24, 2018

    oriflamme

    noun [awr-uh-flam, or-]
    any flag, banner, or standard, especially one that serves as a rallying point or symbol.
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    What is the origin of oriflamme?

    Originally an oriflamme was the banner or ensign that the French kings received before going into battle from the abbot of Saint-Denis, the site of a Benedictine abbey founded c626 in a city of the same name, located northeast of Paris, and named after Saint Denis, a martyr of the 3rd century who is venerated as a patron of the French people. Oriflamme means “golden flame” in Old French, from Latin aurea flamma “golden flame,” referring to the golden flames on the red background of the banner. Oriflamme entered English in the 15th century.

    How is oriflamme used?

    I was so afraid you might think we ought to sort of wave the oriflamme of our unfettered love. Mary Renault, Purposes of Love, 1939

    ... the huge and motley mass, throughout the Union, which marched under the oriflamme of the bank, had every where repeated and reiterated the same cry. Thomas Hart Benton, Thirty Years’ View, 1854

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, March 23, 2018

    deracinate

    verb [dih-ras-uh-neyt]
    to isolate or alienate (a person) from a native or customary culture or environment.
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    What is the origin of deracinate?

    The root of deracinate “to uproot” is the Late Latin noun rādīcīna “root,” from Latin rādīx (stem rādīc-), from which English derives radical and eradicate. Latin rādīx comes from the Proto-Indo-European root wrād- (and its variants) “branch, root.” The noun wrādios becomes Latin rādius “staff, rod, beam, radius (of a circle), ray (of light),” from which, via French, English has ray (of light or energy). The suffixed form wrād-mo- becomes Latin rāmus “branch, twig,” from which English derives ramify and ramification. Proto-Indo-European wrād- becomes wrōt- in Germanic, from which Old Norse derives rōt, which becomes root in English. Deracinate entered English in the late 16th century.

    How is deracinate used?

    Our parents sent us to those schools to deracinate us, to obliterate our class markings. Malcolm Knox, Summerland, 2000

    In little more than a century, millions of human beings in Europe and America ... have undertaken to deracinate themselves from the natural continuum and all that it has to teach us of Man's relationship to the nonhuman more completely than ever before in the human past. Theodore Roszak, "Can We Survive the Artificial Environment?" The Rotarian, June 1971

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