Word of the Day

Thursday, December 20, 2018

gewgaw

[ gyoo-gaw, goo- ]

noun

something gaudy and useless; trinket; bauble.

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What is the origin of gewgaw?

Gewgaw derives from Middle English giuegaue. It is a gradational compound of uncertain origin, perhaps akin to the Middle French and French term gogo, as in the adverb à gogo meaning “as much as you like; to your heart’s content; galore.” It’s been used in English since the late 12th century or the early 13th century.

how is gewgaw used?

The Star was proving particularly awkward … it was refusing to look like the resplendent gewgaw it was.

Michael Innes, Honeybath's Haven, 1977

If nothing’s missing, if every handkerchief, knick-knack, piece of cut glass, every gewgaw is accounted for, we heave a great sigh of relief.

Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Death on the Installment Plan, translated by Ralph Manheim, 1966
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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

joyance

[ joi-uhns ]

noun

Archaic. joyous feeling; gladness.

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What is the origin of joyance?

Joyance “gladness, rejoicing,” a compound of the verb joy “to feel glad, rejoice” and the suffix -ance, used to form nouns from verbs, was coined by Edmund Spenser (c1552-99) in his Faerie Queene (1590). Ben Jonson (c1573-1637) and Samuel Johnson (1709-84) were not great fans of Edmund Spenser’s contrived, artificial diction, and joyance may be one of the reasons why. The word was rare until two of the Lake Poets, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) and Robert Southey (1774-1843), resuscitated it in the late 18th century.

how is joyance used?

The rooms rang with silvery voices of women and delightful laughter, while the fiddles went merrily, their melodies chiming sweetly with the joyance of his mood.

Booth Tarkington, Monsieur Beaucaire, 1900

… overhead the soaring skylark sang, as it were, to express the joyance of the day.

Gilbert Parker, A Ladder of Swords, 1904
Tuesday, December 18, 2018

kaleidoscopic

[ kuh-lahy-duh-skop-ik ]

adjective

continually shifting from one set of relations to another; rapidly changing: the kaleidoscopic events of the past year.

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What is the origin of kaleidoscopic?

Kaleidoscopic comes from Greek kalós “beautiful,” eîdos “shape,” and -scope, a combining form meaning “instrument for viewing.” The suffix -ic is used to form adjective from other parts of speech in Greek and Latin loanwords in English. Kaleidoscopic entered English in the 1840s.

how is kaleidoscopic used?

The natural progress of her life, however, is fragmented in Hong’s kaleidoscopic fusion of reality and fantasy.

Richard Brody, "Idiosyncratic Romance at the New York Film Festival," The New Yorker, October 2, 2017

Things had happened, in the last few hours, with a kaleidoscopic rapidity–the whirl of events had left her mind in a dazed condition.

Margaret E. Sangster, The Island of Faith, 1921

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