Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

gramarye

[ gram-uh-ree ]

noun

occult learning; magic.

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What is the origin of gramarye?

Gramarye “occult learning” is a doublet of grammar, and both derive via Old French gramaire and Latin gramatica from Ancient Greek grammatikḕ (téchnē) “grammatical (art),” from grammatikós “knowing one’s letters” and earlier grámma “letter, something drawn; small weight.” The story of how an ancient word for “letter” evolved into gramarye, grammar, and even glamour (via Scots) is full of semantic twists and turns. The sense “knowledge of letters” shifted to the broader definition of “the study of how a language’s sentences are constructed,” and this is the definition of grammar today. In the Middle Ages, because grammar was taught only among the upper classes, grammar became a symbol of general “higher” learning, which also included subjects such as astrology, magic, and the occult at the time. Glamour and gramarye are simply variants of grammar that kept this connection to magic, though glamour later shifted again to refer to enchantingly good looks. Gramarye was first recorded in English in the early 1300s.

how is gramarye used?

[W]ater turned to fire and fire to water. He levitated without a … harness. He seemed aflame, he walked through fire unscathed. He performed feats of gramarye that left his audience gawping. In short, he was astounding. A bell tolled eleven. On the eleventh stroke, the wizard vanished for the last time, leaving a rain of gold, silver, and scarlet sparks to descend slowly into the foggy Hall.

Cecilia Dart-Thornton, The Ill-Made Mute, 2001

“Know’st thou what thou look’st like, Sir Conrade, at this moment? Not like the politic and valiant Marquis of Montserrat—not like him who would direct the Council of Princes, and determine the fate of empires—but like a novice, who, stumbling upon a conjuration in his master’s book of gramarye, has raised the devil when he least thought of it, and now stands terrified at the spirit which appears before him.”

Sir Walter Scott, “The Talisman,” Waverly Novels, Vol. 39, 1827

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Word of the day

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

inculcate

[ in-kuhl-keyt, in-kuhl-keyt ]

verb (used with object)

to implant by repeated statement or admonition; teach persistently and earnestly.

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What is the origin of inculcate?

Inculcate “to implant by repeated statement or admonition” derives from the Latin verb inculcāre “to trample, impress, stuff in,” a combination of the preposition in “in” and the noun calx (stem calc-) “heel,” which is also the source of calcaneus, the bone found in the heel. Calx is easily confused with its unrelated homonym calx “limestone,” though descendants of both words are often found today in educational settings: while inculcate, from calx “heel,” can refer to a teaching style, derivatives of calx “limestone” include chalk and, through a diminutive form meaning “small stone,” calculus. Inculcate was first recorded in English in the mid-1500s.

how is inculcate used?

At an early age, when grammar school teachers were struggling to inculcate the lesson that effort was the main key to success in school, these future scribblers gave the obvious lie to this assertion. Where others read haltingly, they were plowing two grades ahead in the reading workbooks.

Megan McArdle, “Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators,” The Atlantic, February 12, 2014

Jericho Brown considers how poets traverse the often long and chilly days, weeks, or months between poems. He begins by thinking about how the ideas of happiness (a short lived sensation) and joy (longer, deeper, and irrational) were inculcated in him through the church where he grew up.

Harriet Staff, “Jericho Brown Covering Distance at Boston Review,” Poetry Foundation, May 2016

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Word of the day

Monday, October 04, 2021

Weltanschauung

[ velt-ahn-shou-oong ]

noun

a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity's relation to it.

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What is the origin of Weltanschauung?

Weltanschauung “a comprehensive conception or image of the universe” is a direct borrowing from German, in which the term is a compound of Welt “world” and Anschauung “perception.” Welt is a cognate of the English word world, and both come from a Germanic term, reconstructed as wer-ald-, that likely meant “age of man.” The first half of wer-ald- can be found today in werewolf, literally “wolf man,” and derives from the same Proto-Indo-European root as Latin vir “man,” the source of virile “manly” and triumvirate “a group of three men.” The second half of wer-ald- is related to old and elder and is distantly related to the first element of the recent Word of the Day alma mater. Weltanschauung was first recorded in English in the 1860s.

how is Weltanschauung used?

Holmes handles the tension successfully not only by applying his scientific principles to a case but also by seeing the case through the perspective of his Weltanschauung. He takes the crime, the criminal, the victim, the motive, the circumstances, and the other characters involved who gain or suffer from the crime, and he puts them all into the cauldron of his world-view. The product of that mixture emerges as his unique brand of justice.

Diane Gilbert Madsen, Cracking the Code of the Canon: How Sherlock Holmes Made His Decisions, 2016

The first immigrant organizations in my town—even before there was a church—were all Azorean Holy Ghost fraternal societies. That they still thrive is one of the things pointing to the century long love affair that Falmouth has had with the Azores and helps craft the Weltanschauung of the immigrants, their children, and even non-Portuguese in my town. It is a love affair that may not be symmetrical, but it is one that burns brightly from the side of those of us in Falmouth.

Dr. Miguel Moniz, “Drawing Lines around my Bairro. The Azores Unbound,” Herald News, September 22, 2021

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