Word of the Day

Sunday, March 01, 2020

habitué

[ huh-bich-oo-ey, -bich-oo-ey; French a-bee-twey ]

noun

a frequent or habitual visitor to a place: a habitué of art galleries.

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What is the origin of habitué?

Habitué, “a frequent or habitual visitor,” still feels very French in its spelling and pronunciation. Habitué is often used for someone who frequents places of recreation or amusement, such as poolrooms, bars, or used bookstores. French habitué is a noun use of the masculine past participle of the verb habituer “to frequent,” from Late Latin habituāre, a derivative of the Latin noun habitus “state, state of being, condition.” Habitué entered English in the 19th century.

how is habitué used?

[He was] a jaded habitué of nightclubs, an expert poker player, deceitful and polite, who trimmed his nails carefully every morning.

Victor Serge (1890–1947), The Birth of Our Power, translated by Richard Greeman, 2014

Mr. Zegen is a hunter and gatherer of no mean talent, a gift he said he inherited from his mother, a habitué of garage, estate and yard sales, who scored the red-and-black rug on the floor in the living room.

Joanne Kaufman, "Mr. Maisel's Memorabilia," New York Times, November 27, 2018

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Saturday, February 29, 2020

intercalary

[ in-tur-kuh-ler-ee, in-ter-kal-uh-ree ]

adjective

inserted or interpolated in the calendar, as an extra day or month.

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What is the origin of intercalary?

February 29 presents the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with the word intercalary, as this extra “leap” day, intended to reconcile the solar calendar with the seasons, is itself just that. The adjective intercalary, “inserted or interpolated in the calendar, as an extra day or month,” comes straight from Latin intercalārius, intercalāris, interkalāris of the same meaning. It is a derivative of the verb intercalāre, interkalāre “to intercalate, delay, postpone,” a compound formed of the familiar preposition and prefix inter, inter– “between, among” and the simple verb calāre, kalāre “to announce, proclaim, summon.” The Latin noun kalendae, calendae means “the calends, the first day of the month, the day on which were proclaimed the nones (the ninth day before the ides) and the ides (the fifteenth or thirteenth day of the month).” Intercalary entered English in the early 17th century.

how is intercalary used?

Today, you see, is a leap day, the intercalary anomaly that allows “leaplings” in their 80s to pretend they’re in their 20s ….

Simon Usborne, "Enjoy today—there won't be another one for four years," Independent, February 29, 2012

It closely follows the present calendar, but becomes perpetual by readjustment of the length of some months, equalization of the quarters and insertion of intercalary days.

Geoffrey Vincent, "For Tidier Time," New York Times, January 12, 1964
Friday, February 28, 2020

echelon

[ esh-uh-lon ]

noun

a level of command, authority, or rank: After years of service, she is now in the upper echelon of city officials.

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What is the origin of echelon?

In English, echelon originally had a military sense, “military forces advancing in a steplike formation.” Around 1950, echelon acquired the originally American sense “grade or rank in any administration or profession.” Echelon comes from French echelon, originally “rung of a ladder,” from Old French eschelon, formed from the noun eschele, eschiele “ladder” (from Latin scāla) and the augmentative suffix –on (an augmentative suffix, when added to a noun, denotes increased size or intensity). Echelon entered English in the late 18th century.

how is echelon used?

… if they fall out of favor with the top echelon of the party, their business empires could come crashing down.

David Barboza and Michael Forsythe, "With Choice at Tiananmen, Student Took Road to Riches," New York Times, June 3, 2014

The film features interviews with former members of the controversial organization who describe widespread abuse and intimidation from the upper echelons of the Church’s power structure.

"See the First Trailer for Scathing Scientology Documentary Going Clear," Time, February 20, 2015

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