Word of the Day

Friday, March 05, 2021

grubstake

[ gruhb-steyk ]

noun

money or other assistance furnished at a time of need or of starting an enterprise.

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What is the origin of grubstake?

Grubstake “money or other assistance furnished at a time of need or of starting an enterprise,” was originally American mining slang that first appeared in the Far West of the U.S. (Montana) in 1863. It originally referred to provisions or gear furnished to a prospector on condition of participating in the profits of any discoveries. The grub in grubstake is British and American slang for food; stake is “something wagered in a game, or race or a monetary or commercial interest or investment in an enterprise in hope of gain.”

how is grubstake used?

In short order, the team turned the partners’ $10 million grubstake into $100 million.

William D. Cohan, "Man vs. Machine on Wall Street: How Computers Beat the Market," The Atlantic, March 29, 2011

He told Westerberg he planned on staying until April 15, just long enough to put together a grubstake. He needed a pile of new gear, he explained, because he was going to Alaska.

Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild, 1996

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Thursday, March 04, 2021

confabulate

[ kuhn-fab-yuh-leyt ]

verb (used without object)

to converse informally; chat.

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What is the origin of confabulate?

Confabulate comes from Latin confābulātus, the past participle of confābulārī “to talk together, converse, talk about,” a compound verb formed from the prefix con– “together, with” and the simple verb fābulārī “to talk casually, chat.” Vulgar Latin changed the deponent verb fābulārī to the active verb fābulāre (a deponent verb is one that is passive in form but active in meaning). Syncope, the loss of an unaccented vowel from the middle of a word, was active at all stages of Latin, and fābulāre regularly becomes fāblāre “to speak.” In the Vulgar Latin of Spain and Portugal, on the western fringe of the Roman Empire, fāblāre becomes hablar in (Castilian) Spanish (with typical Castilian change of f– to h-), and falar in Portuguese. The central part of the empire, however, France and Italy, adopted the Christian Latin term parabolāre “to talk in parables, talk using comparisons, talk, speak,” a derivative of Latin parabola, parabolē “explanatory comparison” (from Greek parabolḗ). The noun parabola, parabolē becomes parole in French, parola in Italian, palabra in (Castilian) Spanish, and palavra in Portuguese (the Spanish and Portuguese words show the typical metathesis, or transposition of sounds, of l and r). Confabulate entered English in the early 17th century.

how is confabulate used?

Oh, Ronnie, Ronnie, might you and I confabulate for a moment in the back room? / No, Moira, I’m not falling for that one.

"Open Mic," Schitt's Creek, Season 4, Episode 6, February 27, 2018

“The Fog of War” replays telephone conversations between McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson as they confabulate miserably about a war gone wrong …

Roger Angell, "Late Review," The New Yorker, January 12, 2004

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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

cromulent

[ krom-yuh-luhnt ]

adjective

acceptable or legitimate.

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What is the origin of cromulent?

Cromulent, “acceptable, legitimate,” was first used in an episode of The Simpsons in 1996. When Edna Krabappel, the fourth-grade teacher, remarks, “’Embiggens’? Hm, I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield,” Elizabeth Hoover, the second-grade teacher, answers, “I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.” Cromulent began as a facetious formation of an arbitrary “root” crom– and the English adjective suffix –ulent (from Latin –ulentus “full of”). Cromulent began as a facetious formation but is now at the brink of “cromulence,” as happened earlier with Lewis Carroll’s chortle, frabjous, and galumph.

how is cromulent used?

I suspect that one of the scariest moments for new [crossword] solvers is when they discover that it is perfectly cromulent for constructors to clue answers in a way that means one thing, but twists the answers into real words that mean something totally different.

Deb Amlen, "Mythical Matchmaker," New York Times, April 22, 2020

This is the wonder that is Frinkiac, a compendium of Simpsons moments frozen in time, and the latest, best, most perfectly cromulent way to waste time on the Internet.

Brian Barrett, "Epic 'Frinkiac' Search Engine Matches Any Simpsons Quote With Its Still," Wired, February 3, 2016

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