Word of the Day

Monday, December 17, 2018

grinch

[ grinch ]

noun

a person or thing that spoils or dampens the pleasure of others.

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What is the origin of grinch?

The Grinch was the misanthropic central character in the children’s book How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957) by “Dr. Seuss” (Theodor Seuss Geisel). The book was made into a TV special in 1966 and a feature film in 2000.

how is grinch used?

I’d prefer not to be a grinch, but it’s always been beyond me why people like to argue about literary prizes.

Willing Davidson, "Pullet Surprise," The New Yorker, April 20, 2009

Every family has a grinch: the person who wants to sleep in instead of opening presents, refuses to sing Christmas carols, or eats a Twix instead of plum pudding.

Sally Holmes, "Anna Wintour Is the Grinch Who Stole the Christmas Tree," The Cut, December 26, 2013
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Sunday, December 16, 2018

vivify

[ viv-uh-fahy ]

verb

to enliven; brighten; sharpen.

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What is the origin of vivify?

The English verb vivify comes from Old French vivifier, from Late Latin vīvificāre “to make alive, restore to life, quicken.” Vīvificāre breaks down easily to vīvus “alive,” from vīv(ere) “to live,” from a very widespread Proto-Indo-European root with many variants: gwei-, gwī-, gwi-, gwiyō- “live” (gw- usually becomes v- in Latin). The Proto-Indo-European forms gwīwos and gwiwos “alive, life” become vīvus in Latin, bivus in Oscan (an Italic language spoken in southern Italy), bíos in Greek (from bíwos, from gwiwos). The Proto-Indo-European adjective gwigwos become kwikwaz in Germanic and ultimately English quick (in the archaic sense “alive,” as in the phrase “the quick and the dead”). The suffix -fy comes from Middle English -fi(en), from Old French -fier, from Latin -ficāre, a combining form for verbs of doing or making, from the adjective suffix -ficus, from the verb facere “to do, make,” from the very complicated Proto-Indo-European root dhē-, dho- (and many other variants) “put, place,” the same source for English do. Vivify entered English in the 16th century.

how is vivify used?

… he enlarged his sphere of action from the cold practice of law, into those vast social improvements which law, rightly regarded, should lead, and vivify, and create.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Lucretia, 1846

Faber vivifies the atmosphere and environment of the fictional planet, from its marked humidity to its insect life, with fascinating specificity.

Nicole Lamy, "Books for Left-Brained Readers," New York Times, October 2, 2018
Saturday, December 15, 2018

supplicate

[ suhp-li-keyt ]

verb

to pray humbly to; entreat or petition humbly.

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What is the origin of supplicate?

Supplicate comes directly from Latin supplicātus, past participle of the verb supplicāre “to sue for forgiveness or mercy, make a humble petition.” The Latin verb is a derivative of the adjective supplex (stem supplic-) “bringing peace, making humble petition.” Supplex and supplicāre come from the root plāk-, plak-, the source of Latin placēre “to please, be acceptable to” (source of English placebo “I shall please” and pleasant, via Old French), and plācāre “to conciliate, calm,” whose past participle plācātus is the source of English placate. Supplicate entered English in the 15th century.

how is supplicate used?

Alas! on my knees I supplicate you to forbear–Will you leave me a prey to Frederic?

Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto, 1746

I ask you but to extend to one whose fault was committed under strong temptation that mercy which even you yourself, Lord King, must one day supplicate at a higher tribunal, and for faults, perhaps, less venial.

Sir Walter Scott, The Talisman, 1825

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