Word of the Day

Word of the day

Thursday, September 09, 2021

glitz

[ glits ]

noun

ostentatious glitter or sophistication.

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What is the origin of glitz?

It’s easy to imagine how glitz is related to the word glitter, but the two words share a far deeper origin: the Proto-Indo-European root gʰel- “to shine.” This root crops up in at least a dozen brightness- and vision-related words, including glance, glare, glass, glaze, gleam, glimmer, glimpse, glint, glisten, glister, gloss, and glow, and is also the source of many light color names, such as gold and yellow in English and khlōrós “greenish-yellow” in Ancient Greek, from which chlorophyll is derived. Glitz entered English in the 1970s, which is surprisingly recent.

how is glitz used?

Yet much of the glitz may be just that—glitz. Survey data and experts suggest that students generally appreciate libraries most for their simple, traditional offerings: a quiet place to study or collaborate on a group project, the ability to print research papers, and access to books.

Alia Wong, "College Students Just Want Normal Libraries," The Atlantic, October 4, 2019

On the surface, I had almost nothing in common with Ann. I was a 39-year-old, geeky freelancer living in suburban New Jersey, far from the glitz and glamour of Tokyo. I was long past the carefree attitude of a high schooler and was a very, very far cry from ever belonging on a runway.

Esther Mollica, "Ann Takamaki From Persona 5 Was Exactly Who I Needed to See," Wired, May 10, 2021

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Word of the day

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

cathartic

[ kuh-thahr-tik ]

adjective

of or relating to the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.

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What is the origin of cathartic?

Cathartic comes via Latin from Ancient Greek kathartikós “fit for cleansing,” from the adjective katharós “pure” or “clean.” The name Catherine is often claimed to derive from katharós, but this is folk etymology; while the words look and sound similar, they have different, unrelated origins. A true derivative of katharós is the term Catharism, the name of a sect of Christianity that flourished in the south of France during the Middle Ages and held as one of its fundamental beliefs the existence of two equal, opposing gods rather than a single, all-powerful deity. Cathartic entered English in the early 1600s.

how is cathartic used?

We watched the film together and slowly I just started to see my mom starting to weep, my sister, my dad. And it just felt like it was such a cathartic experience for all of us. It was really special, really incredible.

Lee Isaac Chung, as quoted in “Lee Isaac Chung Jotted Down Some Family Memories—They Became ‘Minari,’” NPR, March 3, 2021

I’d be having a bad day and I’d write about how I’m feeling, with tears in my eyes. It was like writing in my diary, but making it into a song. It was cathartic for me.

Ray BLK, as quoted in "Ray BLK: ‘A song is like writing in my diary. It’s cathartic,’" The Guardian, August 22, 2021

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Word of the day

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

lucubrate

[ loo-kyoo-breyt ]

verb (used without object)

to work, write, or study laboriously, especially at night.

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What is the origin of lucubrate?

Lucubrate derives from the Latin verb lūcubrāre “to work at night” or, more specifically, “to work by candlelight/lamplight,” from the Proto-Indo-European root lewk- “light,” which is the source of many Latin-derived words related to light, clarity, and brightness. From the verb lūcēre “to shine,” we inherit lucid and translucent; from the verb lūstrāre “to make bright,” we have adapted luster and illustrate; and from the noun lūmen “light,” we have luminous and illuminate. This Proto-Indo-European root is also found in the English terms light and lea, another word for “meadow”; Latin lūna “moon”; and Ancient Greek leukós “white,” as in leukocyte, the technical term for a white blood cell. Lucubrate entered English in the early 1600s.

how is lucubrate used?

While I was confident in my education to this point—after a full course of study at Tokyo Imperial University, I came first to Harvard and then M.I.T. for advanced work because I wanted a modern outlook on architecture, a Western outlook, and I was willing to work all day and lucubrate till dawn to get it—I was coming to Taliesin on impulse.

T. C. Boyle, The Women, 2009

Some gorge on other poetry and ruminate productively: some interrogate the canon. Some regurgitate. Some over-lucubrate with dictionaries. Some wax Latinate.

Jean Bleakney, "Improvisation," The Guardian, December 1, 2008

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