Word of the Day

Word of the day

Saturday, December 29, 2018

gussy

[ guhs-ee ]

verb

Informal. to enhance the attractiveness of in a gimmicky, showy manner (usually followed by up): a room gussied up with mirrors and lights.

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What is the origin of gussy?

The verb gussy is usually followed by up. Gussy up “to dress elaborately, dress up, smarten up” is an American and Canadian slang term, and like many slang terms, its etymology is obscure. Gussy up may derive from gussie, an Australian and American slang term for a weak, effeminate man (first appearing in Australia and the US in 1901 or 1902). The verb phrase gussy up appears in 1906 in Canada and in 1912 in the US.

how is gussy used?

When a not-so-careful writer tries to gussy up his prose with an upmarket word that he mistakenly thinks is a synonym of a common one, like simplistic for simple or fulsome for full, his readers are likely to conclude the worst: that he has paid little attention what he has read, is affecting an air of sophistication on the cheap, and is polluting a common resource.

Steven Pinker, The Sense of Style, 2014

… he was busy helping his dad gussy up the old tractors for the parade.

Gayle Brandeis, Delta GIrls, 2010
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Word of the day

Friday, December 28, 2018

smackeroo

[ smak-uh-roo ]

noun

a noisy kiss.

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What is the origin of smackeroo?

Smackeroo is originally (and still usually) an American slang term with three meanings: “something very good or excellent; cash, folding money; a sharp slap or hard blow (accidental or deliberate).” The etymology of smackeroo isn’t very clear: it may come from smacker “a dollar; a loud kiss,” or from the verb smack “to strike sharply; kiss loudly.” The suffix -eroo is an Americanism of uncertain origin, used for forming jocular, gaudy variants of neutral or colorless nouns, e.g., switcheroo for switch. Smackeroo entered English in the mid-20th century.

how is smackeroo used?

Do you grab the first person to cross your path and plant a big wet smackeroo, or leave the party before midnight to avoid the whole issue?

Roxanne Roberts, "A Peck of Advice on the New Year's Eve Kiss," Washington Post, December 30, 1998

I can’t possibly discuss all that action, so let me focus on a few key kisses. First, Mary and Matthew’s very cinematic smackeroo

June Thomas, “Matthew and Mary, Anna and Bates: Downton’s great couples,” Slate, February 12, 2012

Word of the day

Thursday, December 27, 2018

memorist

[ mem-er-ist ]

noun

a person who has a remarkably retentive memory.

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What is the origin of memorist?

Memorist is a rare word. When it entered English in the late 17th century, it meant “one who prompts the memory or conscience.” Memorist was revived in the late 19th century as an Americanism meaning “one who has a retentive or prodigious memory.”

how is memorist used?

As a memorist he is phenomenally endowed, his retentiveness so acute that he recites readily without reference or prompting, declamations committed in his schoolboys days more than seventy years ago.

William Travis, A History of Clay County Indiana, Volume II, 1909

… a memorist appeared on a Sunday morning TV show. He was introduced to the 100 or so youngsters in the audience and repeated all of their names back to them at the end of the show.

Ron Fry, Improve Your Memory, 2012

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