• Word of the day
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    Thursday, September 27, 2018

    gnathonic

    adjective [na-thon-ik]
    sycophantic; fawning.
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    What is the origin of gnathonic?

    The English adjective gnathonic comes from Latin gnathōnicus, an adjective derivative of Gnathō (inflectional stem Gnathōn-), the name of a sycophant and parasite in Eunuchus, a comedy by the Latin playwright Terence (Publius Terentius Afer, c190–c159 b.c.). Terence also coined the derivative plural noun Gnathōnicī “disciples of Gnatho” as a comic general term for sycophants and parasites. Gnathonic entered English in the 17th century.

    How is gnathonic used?

    That Jack's is somewhat of a gnathonic and parasitic soul, or stomach, all Bideford apple-women know ... Charles Kingsley, Westward Ho!, 1855

    ... Pandarus is not unlike familiar gnathonic persons who attach themselves to their betters, as he does both in his defense of Paris ad in his eagerness to satisfy the appetities [sic] of his prince. D. W. Robertson Jr., "The Probable Date and Purpose of Chaucer's Troilus," Medievalia et Humanistica, No. 13, 1985

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, September 26, 2018

    blellum

    noun [blel-uhm]
    Scot. Obsolete. an idle, indiscreet talker.
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    What is the origin of blellum?

    Not only does blellum not have an etymology, it has very few citations. One of which is in the poem Tam o’Shanter (1790) by Robert Burns (1759–96); so it’s a keeper.

    How is blellum used?

    A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum ... Robert Burns, "Tam o' Shanter," The Edinburgh Herald, March 18, 1791

    How was ye to foresee that Mr. Manners was a blellum? Winston Churchill, Richard Carvel, 1899

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, September 25, 2018

    toyetic

    adjective [taw-yet-ik]
    (of a character or object from a movie, TV show, etc.) potentially marketable as a toy: a toyetic superhero.
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    What is the origin of toyetic?

    Toyetic, an obvious composition of toy and the adjective suffix -etic, was supposedly coined by the American toy developer and marketer Bernard Loomis (1923–2006) in a conversation with Steven Spielberg about making figures based on Spielberg’s movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

    How is toyetic used?

    There’s a singular pleasure that comes with holding a Star Wars toy. The film’s vehicles, weapons, heroes, and villains, after all, are uniquely “toyetic" ... Melissa Leon, "How 'Star Wars' Revolutionized the Toy Industry," The Daily Beast, January 1, 2018

    It adds another powerhouse toyetic property to their portfolio, with a proven track record of success. Rob Salkowitz, "Hasbro Powers Up, Acquiring Power Rangers From Saban For $522 Million," Forbes, May 1, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, September 24, 2018

    sibilate

    verb [sib-uh-leyt]
    to utter or pronounce with a hissing sound.
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    What is the origin of sibilate?

    Sibilate comes from Latin sībilātus, past participle of the verb sībilāre “to hiss, hiss in disapproval.” From sībilant-, the present participle stem of sībilāre, English has the noun and adjective sibilant, used in phonetics in reference to hissing sounds like s or z. Sibilate entered English in the 17th century.

    How is sibilate used?

    It may be that there is some mysterious significance in the pitch at which an idea is vocalized; but, as for this writer, we doubt if it makes any difference whether he sibilates his opinions to himself in half-suppressed demi-semiquavers, or roars them to the world through a fog-trumpet--their obliquity may safely be assumed as a constant quantity. E. L. Youmans, "Herbert Spencer's Sociology," Appletons' Journal, February 21, 1874

    "I've been in for twenty years," he sibilates in my ear. Kevin Dutton, The Wisdom of Psychopaths, 2012

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, September 23, 2018

    legerdemain

    noun [lej-er-duh-meyn]
    trickery; deception.
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    What is the origin of legerdemain?

    There are about 50 spellings in Middle English for (modern) legerdemain. The English word most likely comes from a Middle French phrase leger de main “light of hand,” which is unfortunately unrecorded. Middle French has two similar idioms meaning “to be dexterous”: estre ligier de sa main, literally “to be light of his hand” and avoir la main legiere, literally “to have the light hand.” In English, legerdemain first meant “skill in conjuring, sleight of hand” and acquired the sense “trickery, artful deception” in the 16th century. Legerdemain entered English in the 15th century.

    How is legerdemain used?

    ... it was precisely that sort of legerdemain—tapping a dicey loan with the magic wand of financialization—which built the mortgage-securitization industry to begin with. Tad Friend, "Home Economics," The New Yorker, February 4, 2013

    The city today stretches out along the flatlands by the Fyris River, then ripples up a glacial ridge, culminating in a massive sixteenth-century castle painted the color of a poached salmon—a bit of legerdemain by pigment that leavens the bulky fortress considerably. Emily Hiestand, "The Constant Gardener," The Atlantic, March 2007

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, September 22, 2018

    polychromatic

    adjective [pol-ee-kroh-mat-ik, -kruh-]
    having or exhibiting a variety of colors.
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    What is the origin of polychromatic?

    English polychromatic is a borrowing from French polychromatique, which comes from Greek polychrṓmatos “many-colored, variegated” and the suffix -ique, from the Greek suffix -ikos or the Latin suffix -icus. Polychromatic is used mostly, but not exclusively, in the physical sciences, e.g., hematology, physics, and formerly in chemistry. Polychromatic entered English in the 19th century.

    How is polychromatic used?

    ... the degreening of leaves is a widely appreciated natural phenomenon, especially in autumn, when the foliage of deciduous trees turns into polychromatic beauty. S. Hörtensteiner and P. Matile, "How Leaves Turn Yellow: Catabolism of Chlorophyll," Plant Cell Death Processes, 2004

    Throughout, Suzy Lee’s polychromatic illustrations astonish. Each page bursts with color. Carmela Ciuraru, "'A Dog Day,' 'Ask Me' and 'Sidewalk Flowers'," New York Times, July 10, 2015

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, September 21, 2018

    coup de foudre

    noun [kooduh foo-druh]
    love at first sight.
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    What is the origin of coup de foudre?

    In French coup de foudre, literally “a clap of thunder,” means “love at first sight.” Modern French coup is a development of Old French coup, colp “a blow, strike,” from Late Latin colpus, from Latin colaphus, from Greek kólaphos “a slap.” French foudre “lightning” comes from Latin fulgura, the plural of the neuter noun fulgur “lightning.” Coup de foudre entered English in the 18th century.

    How is coup de foudre used?

    Do you believe in love at first sight? The coup de foudre, the heart falling into the stomach, the moment when Cupid's arrow breaches the iron armor of even the hardest of hearts? Sally Christie, The Sisters of Versailles, 2015

    I mean, the coup de foudre is wonderful--seeing someone for the first time across a room and just feeling this huge surge of necessity, the knowledge that you want to be with them. But it's not the only way. Increasingly I'm coming around to the view that the other kind is better. Simon Brett, Penultimate Chance Saloon, 2005

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