Word of the Day

Monday, November 19, 2018


[ gal-uh-ney-shuhs ]


belonging or pertaining to the order Galliformes, comprising medium-sized, mainly ground-feeding domestic or game birds, as the chicken, turkey, grouse, pheasant, and partridge.

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What is the origin of gallinaceous?

The adjective gallinaceous comes straight from the Latin adjective gallīnāceus, a derivative of gallīna “hen,” itself a derivative of the noun gallus “rooster, cock.” Further etymology is uncertain: gallus may come from the Proto-Indo-European root gal- “to call, cry.” If so, gallus (from unattested galsos) means “shouter, crier” and is related to Lithuanian galsas “echo,” Polish głos “voice,” and English call (via Old Norse kall). Gallinaceous entered English in the 18th century.

how is gallinaceous used?

Yea, verily, there is much to inspire gratitude on this holiday centered on a gallinaceous bird with alarmingly hypertrophied breasts.

Glen Martin, “The Science of Holiday Happiness: Why Gratitude Really is Good for You,” California Magazine, November 24, 2014

In the sand I saw tracks of a large, gallinaceous bird — a sage grouse or chukar.

Denise Firestone, "Haven for Antelope and Hikers," New York Times, August 7, 1994
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Sunday, November 18, 2018


[ shuhn-pahyk ]


a side road taken instead of a turnpike or expressway to avoid tolls or to travel at a leisurely pace.

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What is the origin of shunpike?

Shunpike is a blend of the verb shun and the noun (turn)pike. The word was originally an Americanism and dates from the mid-19th century.

how is shunpike used?

… she proposed to Mr. Morris that he should take the shunpike for a change.

Frank R. Stockton, The Captain's Toll-Gate, 1903

Shunpiking is real,” he said, using an old term for avoiding toll roads.

Phil Patton, "The Virtues of Avoiding Interstates," New York Times, August 5, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2018


[ kon-er-bey-shuhn ]


an extensive urban area resulting from the expansion of several cities or towns so that they coalesce but usually retain their separate identities.

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What is the origin of conurbation?

Conurbation is a coinage of Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932), Scottish sociologist and city planner. The formation of conurbation is simple enough: the Latin prefix con-, a form of the prefix and preposition cum-, cum “with, together with,” urb-, the stem of urbs “city, capital city, large town; the City, i.e., Rome” (unfortunately urbs has no known etymology), and the common noun suffix -ation. Conurbation entered English in 1915.

how is conurbation used?

By 1984, there may well be several giant urban conurbations in the world which will make the present Greater Tokyo, New York and London look rather puny.

Ruth Glass, "Cities in 1984: Stability and Strife," New Scientist, July 16, 1964

Then the conurbation spread and Hallowgate became part of the North Tyneside sprawl.

Ann Cleeves, Killjoy, 1993
Friday, November 16, 2018


[ sahy-en-ter ]


a mental state in which one has knowledge that one’s action, statement, etc., is wrong, deceptive, or illegal: often used as a standard of guilt: The court found that the company had the requisite scienter for securities fraud.

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What is the origin of scienter?

In English scienter is both a noun and an adverb used in the law; in Latin scienter is an adverb only and is not restricted to legal usage. Latin scienter “skillfully, expertly; knowingly, consciously” breaks down to scien(t)-, the inflectional stem of the present participle sciēns from the verb scīre “to know, know how to” (scientia “knowledge, science” is a derivative of scient-), and the Latin adverbial suffix -ter, which is regularly used with adjectives and participles whose inflectional stem ends in -nt- (the t of the -nt- is dropped). Scienter entered English in the 17th century.

how is scienter used?

Now, there is absolutely nothing in this case to prove that he had any guilty knowledge to the effect that his account was too low to meet the draft in question. You have proven no scienter whatever.

Arthur Cheney Train, The Confessions of Artemas Quibble, 1911

Lawyers say that Stewart’s insider-trading case will come down to a question of scienter. Did she know she was doing something wrong when she sold her ImClone stock?

Andrew Feinberg, "Are You Guilty of Insider Trading?" Kiplinger's Personal Finance, January 2004
Thursday, November 15, 2018


[ vuh-luhp-choo-er-ee ]


a person whose life is devoted to the pursuit and enjoyment of luxury and sensual pleasure.

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What is the origin of voluptuary?

The adjective and noun voluptuary comes via French voluptuaire from Late Latin voluptuārius from Latin voluptārius, an adjective derived from voluptās “agreeable sensation, pleasure, delight.” The second u in voluptuārius probably comes from association with the Latin adjective and noun sumptuārius “pertaining to monetary expenses (especially sumptuary laws); a servant in of charge domestic expenses.” Voluptuary entered English in the 17th century.

how is voluptuary used?

Hartmann, a voluptuary, lowered a spoonful of brown sugar crystals into his coffee cup, then placed a square of bitter chocolate on his tongue, and, while it was dissolving, lit his first cigarette. The ensuing mélange of tastes and aromas pleased him profoundly …

Anita Brookner, Latecomers, 1988

Quin is a real voluptuary in the articles of eating and drinking, and so confirmed an epicure, in the common acceptation of the term, that he cannot put up with ordinary fare.

Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, 1771
Wednesday, November 14, 2018


[ kuh-tas-truh-fahyz ]


to view or talk about (an event or situation) as worse than it actually is, or as if it were a catastrophe: Stop catastrophizing and get on with your life! She tends to catastrophize her symptoms.

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What is the origin of catastrophize?

The verb catastrophize, used mostly in psychology and psychotherapy, is formed from the Greek noun katastrophḗ “overturning, subjugation, conclusion, denouement,” and the Greek verb-forming suffix -ízein that was adopted into Latin as -īzāre and has become thoroughly naturalized in English. Catastrophize entered English in the 20th century.

how is catastrophize used?

I was inspired to catastrophize by my father, who believed that “90 percent of the things we worry about never come to pass.” He added cheerily that it was the other 10 percent, coming out of nowhere, that usually did us in.

Pat Snyder, "De-stress with a sigh of relief," Tri-Village News, August 18, 2004

Today’s news media will “catastrophize” anything they can.

Ben Stein, "Avoid the Craziness at No One Gets Hurt," New York Times, August 26, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2018


[ si-kwey-shuhs ]


Archaic. following, imitating, or serving another person, especially unreasoningly.

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What is the origin of sequacious?

The adjective sequacious comes from Latin sequac-, stem of sequāx “following closely or eagerly, disposed to be a follower, (of materials) responsive to manipulation or control, pliant” (sequāx lacks the sense “following smoothly or logically”). Sequāx is formed from the verb sequī “to follow” and the adjective suffix -āx (inflectional stem -āc-). Sequī is a Latin formation from the very widespread Proto-Indo-European root sekw-, sokw- “to follow,” which appears in Sanskrit, Greek and the Celtic and Germanic languages. Other Latin derivatives of sekw-, sokw- include the noun socius “follower, partner, ally” (from sokwyos) with its derivative adjective sociālis, source of English social. In Germanic, sokwyos becomes sagjaz “follower, retainer, warrior,” becoming in Old English secg, a noun used only in poetry. Sequacious entered English in the 17th century.

how is sequacious used?

In a world peopled with limp critics and sequacious art historians the ruthlessness with which he used the battering ram of talent invariably earned my admiration and almost invariably my support.

Grace Glueck, "The Pope of the Art World," New York Times, May 26, 1991

Those superstitious horrors that enslave / The fond sequacious herd, to mystic faith …

James Thompson, Summer, 1727

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