Word of the Day

Friday, March 19, 2021

gasconade

[ gas-kuh-neyd ]

noun

extravagant boasting; boastful talk.

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What is the origin of gasconade?

Gasconade “extravagant boasting; boastful talk” comes straight from French gasconnade “bragging, boasting, a boastful story,” from the noun Gascon, denoting an inhabitant of Gascony in southwest France. Gascon ultimately comes from Latin Vasco, Vascō (inflectional stem Vascon-, Vascōn-), originally denoting the inhabitants of Vasconia, the territory on either side of the Pyrenees. Vascones becomes Guascones in Medieval Latin: Vasco is the source of Basque, and Guascon the source of Gascon. Gasconade entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is gasconade used?

We may also have figured out, or most of us may have, that the bluster and gasconade of the fear-mongers hasn’t really done us much good.

Michael Tomasky, "Has Political Fear-Mongering Lost Its Appeal?" New York Times, June 18, 2016

The president was impressed by Hooker’s achievements but disturbed by his gasconade.

James M. McPherson, Tired By War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief, 2008

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Thursday, March 18, 2021

nescience

[ nesh-uhns, nesh-ee-uhns, nes-ee- ]

noun

lack of knowledge; ignorance.

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What is the origin of nescience?

Nescience, “lack of knowledge, ignorance,” comes straight from Late Latin nescientia, a noun formed from nescient-, the stem of nesciēns, the present participle of nescīre “to be ignorant, not to know,” and the Latin (and Greek) noun suffix –ia. In Latin (and other archaic Indo-European languages, with the exception of Greek), ne– was the original negative for sentences: thus the pair sciō “I know,” and nesciō “I don’t know.” The usual sentence negative in Classical Latin is nōn, probably from earlier noenum “not one (thing),” itself a strengthening of ne with oenum (Classical Latin ūnum). Something similar happened in English, the adverb not being a reduced form of nought (also naught), a compound of the negative adverb ne and the noun wiht “thing, wight.” Nescience entered English in the first half of the 17th century.

how is nescience used?

Verily, geology might be termed “man’s nescience of creation,” wherein he best learns how little he can know.

"The Present and the Past," Scientific American, February 25, 1871

The unexpected vantage point can help induce a beneficial nescience that disarms us of existing tools and systems of thinking.

David Gray, "Wanted: Chief Ignorance Officer," Harvard Business Review, November 2003

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

macushla

[ muh-koosh-luh ]

noun, Irish English.

darling.

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What is the origin of macushla?

Macushla is a phonetic English spelling of the Erse (Irish Gaelic) mo chuisle, literally “my pulse,” or translated more romantically, “my heartbeat, my sweetheart, darling.” The mo-, ma– in macushla, mo chuisle means “my”; cushla, chuisle “pulse, heartbeat, vein,” comes from an earlier Erse cuisle, of uncertain etymology, but most likely a borrowing of Latin pulsus “striking, beating, pulse.” Cuisle appears in another Irish idiom: a chuisle “my dear, darling,” in full, a chuisle mo chroí, literally, “pulse of my heart.” (The phrase Mother Machree “Mother dear” entered English in the first half of the 19th century.) The a is the Gaelic vocative particle, a particle used in direct address, and equivalent to English exclamation O. Chroí “heart” comes from Old Irish crid-, which closely resembles Welsh craidd, Latin cord-, Greek kard-, and Hittite karts, all meaning “heart.” Macushla entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is macushla used?

Come, macushla, come, as in ancient times / Rings aloud the underland with faery chimes.

George William Russell, "Song," The Earth Breath and Other Poems, 1897

To hear teenagers quietly speaking Irish. To read Maurice O’Sullivan’s Twenty Years A-Growing. To find out that the endearment “macushla” comes from the Irish word for pulse. These are the things that would encourage a person to look more closely at the Irish language.

"Broken syntax identity of a nation tongue-tied by Irish," Irish Times, March 17, 2008

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