Word of the Day

Sunday, March 17, 2019

green-eyed

[ green-ahyd ]

adjective

Informal.

jealous; envious; distrustful.

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What is the origin of green-eyed?

Green-eyed means “jealous” and is probably most familiar from Shakespeare’s phrase green-eyed monster (Othello, 1604). In the ancient and medieval humoral theory, an excess of yellow bile, which was thought to give the skin a greenish tint, was associated with the element fire and produced a violent, short-tempered, vengeful character. Green-eyed in its literal sense entered English in the 16th century.

how is green-eyed used?

O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; / It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock / the meat it feeds on …

William Shakespeare, Othello, 1623

The protagonist, Ida, has a green-eyed prettiness …

Maria Russo, "In Praise of Maurice Sendak," New York Times, February 14, 2019
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Saturday, March 16, 2019

viator

[ vahy-ey-tawr, -ter ]

noun

a wayfarer; traveler.

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What is the origin of viator?

Viator comes straight from Latin viātor “traveler,” formed from the noun via “track, road” and the noun suffix -tor signifying agency. Many occurrences of viātor are on epitaphs on Roman tombs from the “occupant,” asking travelers passing by not to deface the tomb with graffiti, or warning, “Look out! Your turn is coming!” Viātor was also a title of Mercury, the patron and protector of travelers and the escort of the dead to the underworld. A viātor was also an agent employed on official errands for magistrates, other public officers, and professional organizations. Viator entered English in the early 16th century.

how is viator used?

… how long he was a viator or traveler in his course of obedience no man knows.

Samuel Rutherford,  The Covenant of Life Opened, 1654

… these are so graciously concealed by the fine trees of their grounds, that the passing viator remains unappalled by them …

John Ruskin, Fors Clavigera, 1875
Friday, March 15, 2019

fantods

[ fan-tods ]

noun

a state of extreme nervousness or restlessness; the willies; the fidgets (usually preceded by the): We all developed the fantods when the plane was late in arriving.

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What is the origin of fantods?

In chapter eight of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Huck, hiding on Jackson’s Island, spots a man sleeping on the ground: “It most give me the fantods.” Here the meaning of fantods is plain enough: “acute distress, fear, panic”; the meanings of fantods range between irritability, tension, an emotional fit or outburst, and physical or mental disorder—not at all specific. Fantods has no reliable etymology: it may be a jocular formation based on fantasy or fantastic. Fantods entered English in the 19th century.

how is fantods used?

It gave me the fantods to discover myself cooped up in that narrow room with such a ghastly figure beside me, which I’ll describe to you as best I can.

Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616), The Dialogue of the Dogs, translated by David Kipen, 2008

What would Mr. Gorey make of his status as an All Hallows’ Eve grand ghoul were he alive to see it?

“That would have given Gorey himself the fantods,” said Mark Dery, using one of the antiquated words the artist loved to collect and trot out in his books.

Steven Kurutz, "Edward Gorey Was Eerily Prescient," New York Times, October 30, 2018

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