Word of the Day

Monday, December 24, 2018

heartstrings

[ hahrt-stringz ]

plural noun

the deepest feelings; the strongest affections: to tug at one's heartstrings.

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What is the origin of heartstrings?

The original meaning of heartstrings was physical, or anatomical to be precise. A heartstring was one of the nerves or tendons that supposedly support and brace the heart; heartstrings (the plural) referred to the aorta and pulmonary artery (no longer in scientific use). By the 16th century the heartstrings were conceived as the source of a person’s feelings and emotions. Heartstring in its original anatomical sense entered English in the 15th century.

how is heartstrings used?

Little kids singing and smiling never failed to tug at the heartstrings.

Susan Wiggs, Candlelight Christmas, 2013

There was no choice now, but to bear the pang of whatever heartstrings were snapt asunder, and that illusive torment … by which a past mode of life prolongs itself into the succeeding one.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance, 1852
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Sunday, December 23, 2018

stodge

[ stoj ]

verb

to stuff full, especially with food or drink; gorge.

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What is the origin of stodge?

The adjective stodgy “thick, heavy, dull (of food, clothes, books, people)” is fairly common, but not so its source, the verb stodge “to stuff full, gorge; trudge along.” Stodgy appeared in the 19th century and applied to glutinous mud and roads; a quarter of a century later (in the 1850s), stodgy referred to heavy foods like porridge or potatoes; in the 1870s stodgy meant “dull, boring (of people, one’s own life).” The etymology of stodge is unknown; it entered English in the 17th century.

how is stodge used?

A “City man,” on the other hand … stodges his stomach with rich food three times a day …

T. Clifford Allbutt, "Nervous Diseases and Modern Life," Contemporary Review, February 1895

… as he cuts, bolts, and gulps, smacks, sniffs, and stodges, his eyes examine, his eyes observe, the ever-diminishing remnant upon the plate …

Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz, translated by Eugene Jolas, 1931
Saturday, December 22, 2018

turtledove

[ tur-tl-duhv ]

noun

a sweetheart or beloved mate.

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What is the origin of turtledove?

The turtle in turtledove has nothing to do with the aquatic and terrestrial reptile whose trunk is enclosed in a shell. The ultimate derivation of the reptilian turtle is Greek Tartaroûchos “controlling Tartarus, holding the nether world”; the word turtle entered English in the 17th century. Turtledove is a compound of Old English turtla, from Latin turtur “turtledove,” imitating the call of the bird. Dove comes from Old English dufe, dūfe and is related to the verb dive. Similar forms are found in other Germanic languages. Turtledove entered English in the 14th century.

how is turtledove used?

You look anything but miserable, my turtledove. In fact, I never saw you look so well.

E. F. Harkins, The Schemers, 1903

A whole new world was mine the day … I met my turtledove … for since we’ve been together … my heart has been in love.

Ben Burroughs, "Since We Met," Gettysburg Times, February 2, 1962
Friday, December 21, 2018

hibernal

[ hahy-bur-nl ]

adjective

of or relating to winter; wintry.

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What is the origin of hibernal?

Hibernal “wintry, appearing in winter” and also “pertaining to the winter of life” comes straight from the Late Latin adjective hībernālis “wintry,” first appearing in the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible as edited or translated by St. Jerome). Hībernālis comes from Latin hībernus, which comes from a hypothetical Proto-Indo-European adjective gheimrinos, source also of Greek cheimerinós “in winter, winter’s,” and Slavic (Polish) zimny “cold.” Gheimrinos is formed from the Proto-Indo-European root ghei-, ghi- “snow, winter.” The form ghimo- appears in the Sanskrit noun himá- “cold, frost, snow,” familiar to us in the Himālaya Mountains, “Snow’s abode.” Hibernal entered English in the 17th century.

how is hibernal used?

The sky was in its grey wintry mood where there is no blue break in the clouds to be expected, no bright spell to hope for, nothing for it but to accept the hibernal darkness the way you accept love or death.

Jean Rouaud, The World More or Less, translated by Barbara Wright, 1998

Here’s where to engage in sledding, animal tracking, tree tapping, cross-country skiing, and other hibernal pursuits without ever leaving town.

, "Out in the Cold," New York, January 12, 1981
Thursday, December 20, 2018

gewgaw

[ gyoo-gaw, goo- ]

noun

something gaudy and useless; trinket; bauble.

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What is the origin of gewgaw?

Gewgaw derives from Middle English giuegaue. It is a gradational compound of uncertain origin, perhaps akin to the Middle French and French term gogo, as in the adverb à gogo meaning “as much as you like; to your heart’s content; galore.” It’s been used in English since the late 12th century or the early 13th century.

how is gewgaw used?

The Star was proving particularly awkward … it was refusing to look like the resplendent gewgaw it was.

Michael Innes, Honeybath's Haven, 1977

If nothing’s missing, if every handkerchief, knick-knack, piece of cut glass, every gewgaw is accounted for, we heave a great sigh of relief.

Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Death on the Installment Plan, translated by Ralph Manheim, 1966
Wednesday, December 19, 2018

joyance

[ joi-uhns ]

noun

Archaic. joyous feeling; gladness.

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What is the origin of joyance?

Joyance “gladness, rejoicing,” a compound of the verb joy “to feel glad, rejoice” and the suffix -ance, used to form nouns from verbs, was coined by Edmund Spenser (c1552-99) in his Faerie Queene (1590). Ben Jonson (c1573-1637) and Samuel Johnson (1709-84) were not great fans of Edmund Spenser’s contrived, artificial diction, and joyance may be one of the reasons why. The word was rare until two of the Lake Poets, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) and Robert Southey (1774-1843), resuscitated it in the late 18th century.

how is joyance used?

The rooms rang with silvery voices of women and delightful laughter, while the fiddles went merrily, their melodies chiming sweetly with the joyance of his mood.

Booth Tarkington, Monsieur Beaucaire, 1900

… overhead the soaring skylark sang, as it were, to express the joyance of the day.

Gilbert Parker, A Ladder of Swords, 1904
Tuesday, December 18, 2018

kaleidoscopic

[ kuh-lahy-duh-skop-ik ]

adjective

continually shifting from one set of relations to another; rapidly changing: the kaleidoscopic events of the past year.

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What is the origin of kaleidoscopic?

Kaleidoscopic comes from Greek kalós “beautiful,” eîdos “shape,” and -scope, a combining form meaning “instrument for viewing.” The suffix -ic is used to form adjective from other parts of speech in Greek and Latin loanwords in English. Kaleidoscopic entered English in the 1840s.

how is kaleidoscopic used?

The natural progress of her life, however, is fragmented in Hong’s kaleidoscopic fusion of reality and fantasy.

Richard Brody, "Idiosyncratic Romance at the New York Film Festival," The New Yorker, October 2, 2017

Things had happened, in the last few hours, with a kaleidoscopic rapidity–the whirl of events had left her mind in a dazed condition.

Margaret E. Sangster, The Island of Faith, 1921

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