Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, December 29, 2019

gawsy

[ gaw-see ]

adjective

Scot. and North England.

(of people) well-dressed and of cheerful appearance.

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What is the origin of gawsy?

Gawsy is an adjective found in Scottish and Northern English dialect between the early 1700 and 1900s. When describing people, gawsy means “well-dressed and of cheerful appearance,” as in “The gawsy, outgoing couple lit up the room when they arrived at the party.” When describing things, gawsy means “large and handsome,” as in “The festivities were hosted in a glittering, gawsy ballroom.” The origin of gawsy is obscure. The word is perhaps a variant of gaudy “brilliantly or excessively showy,” and may feature the suffix –sy, which can form adjectives that imply that the given quality is an affectation, as seen in artsy or folksy. Gawsy may also be connected to the obsolete verb gawe “to gape, stare” and Scottish adjective gash “shrewd; well-dressed; neat; imposing.”

how is gawsy used?

Mrs M’Vicar … was withal a gawsy and furthy woman, taking great pleasure in hospitality, and every sort of kindliness and discretion.

John Galt, Annals of the Parish, 1821

He comes steppin’ muckle and braw and gawsy up to the door …

S. R. Crockett, The Dark o' the Moon, 1902
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Word of the day

Saturday, December 28, 2019

réchauffé

[ French rey-shoh-fey ]

noun

a warmed-up dish of food.

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What is the origin of réchauffé?

Réchauffé is “a warmed-up dish of food,” as made from leftovers. Figuratively, réchauffé can mean “anything old or stale brought into service again,” like a rehashed idea. It comes directly from French réchauffé “reheated.” Réchauffé is the past participle of réchauffer “to warm up, reheat,” composed of r(e)– “again” and échauffer “to overheat.” Échauffer is related to Middle French, Old French chaufer (modern French chauffer) “to warm,” ultimately from Latin cal(e)facere “to make hot,” equivalent to cale– (stem of calēre “to be hot”) and facere “to make.” Middle French chaufer is the source of English chafe “to wear or abrade by rubbing,” originally “to warm, heat.” The historic sense of chafe survives, to return to the culinary realm, in chafing dish, a device that consists of a metal dish with a lamp or heating appliance beneath it, used for cooking food or keeping it hot at the table. Réchauffé entered English at the end of the 1700s.

how is réchauffé used?

Spry hints at the humble origins of the dish, noting that ”Now, more commonly, this dish is a rechauffe”—reheated leftovers ….

Janet Bukovinsky, "Weekend Lunch: The New Formality," New York Times Magazine, October 26, 1986

The most artistic réchauffé will lose its charm if repeated too often …

Arthur Robert Kenny-Herbert, Culinary Jottings, 5th ed., 1885
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Word of the day

Friday, December 27, 2019

shilly-shally

[ shil-ee-shal-ee ]

verb (used without object)

to show indecision or hesitation; be irresolute; vacillate.

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What is the origin of shilly-shally?

We have no need to shilly-shally in giving the origin of this amusing term. It develops from the expression to stand shill I, shall I, a playful variation of the repeated question, shall I? shall I?—which a wishy-washy person would struggle to answer. Shilly-shally is modeled after another so-called reduplication (and near synonym), dilly-dally “to loiter or vacillate.” English is fond of such reduplications, or words formed by repeating a word or syllable. Many reduplications are exact, such as boo-boo. Others rhyme, like razzle-dazzle. Shilly-shally follows a pattern known as ablaut reduplication, in which vowels predictably alternate: chitchat, mishmash, and zigzag are other common examples. Entering English at the end of the 1600s, shilly-shally can also be a noun meaning “irresolution; hesitation; vacillation,” an adjective, “irresolute; undecided; vacillating,” and an adverb, “irresolutely.”

how is shilly-shally used?

Experience had taught him that where evil is concerned, it was better to be frank than to shilly-shally.

Anthony C. Winkler, The Family Mansion, 2013

I made my choice and stood by it. But you shilly-shally between both sides.

Ann Rinaldi, Finishing Becca, 1994
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