Word of the Day

Word of the day

Monday, August 09, 2021

hegira

[ hi-jahy-ruh, hej-er-uh ]

noun

any flight or journey to a more desirable or congenial place.

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What is the origin of hegira?

Hegira, “a flight to a more desirable or safer place,” comes from Medieval Latin hegira, a Latinization of Arabic hijrah “emigration, flight, departure,” a derivative of the verb hajara “he departed.” Hijrah specifically refers to the flight of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina to escape persecution in July c.e. 622. The Arabic form hijrah (more fully al hijrat) for Muslims marks the beginning of the Muslim Era. Hegira entered English in the late 16th century; the spelling hijra in the late 19th.

how is hegira used?

After The San Francisco News assigned [John] Steinbeck to write a series about the pathetic living conditions of the Dust Bowl refugees in California’s San Joaquin Valley, he actively began The Grapes of Wrath, his touching 1939 novel about the hegira of these Oklahoma sharecroppers.

Brenda Wineapple, "John Steinbeck, Bard of the American Worker," New York Times, October 6, 2020
[T. S.] Eliot’s hegira from starchy student to the Nobel laureate who packed out baseball stadiums on an American tour remains one of the most compelling and strange of modern poetic careers.

David Wheatley, "The Poems of T.S. Eliot: The Annotated Text review–a monumental achievement," The Guardian, November 13, 2015

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Word of the day

Sunday, August 08, 2021

chuffle

[ chuhf-uhl ]

verb (used without object)

(of the larger species of cats) to make a low snuffling sound analogous to the purring of smaller cat species, often as a greeting.

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What is the origin of chuffle?

Chuffle, “to make a low snuffling sound analogous to the purring of smaller cat species,” is likely of imitative origin, rendering in letters a close approximation of the sound in question. A comparable sound that steam engines emit is the source of the similar verbs chuff, chug, and even choo-choo. The ending, –le, is likely the frequentative suffix also found in verbs such as sparkle and twinkle, indicating repetitive action or motion.

how is chuffle used?

Tigers make a sound called a chuffle. These guys can’t purr like house cats. They’re roaring cats, they roar. So they chuffle; it’s like blowing air through their nose. That means they’re happy. It’s an affectionate sound.

Peter Laufer, Forbidden Creatures, 2010

“Indira’s our most playful and friendly animal at the retreat,” Ms. Wilson, Zambi’s operations manager, said. “She’s everybody’s favourite; she’s the first one to run up and chuffle at you – that’s her friendly sound.”

Kim Arlington, "Eye of the tiger: Sydney veterinary specialists work to save Indira's sight," Sydney Morning Herald, July 13, 2016

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Word of the day

Saturday, August 07, 2021

ruminate

[ roo-muh-neyt ]

verb (used without object)

to meditate or muse; ponder.

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What is the origin of ruminate?

Ruminate, “to meditate, muse, or ponder,” comes from Latin rūminātus, the past participle of rūmināre, rūminārī “(of cattle) to chew the cud; (of humans) to turn over in the mind, ponder” (Roman cattle were famous throughout the ancient Mediterranean for their contemplativeness). Rūmināre is a derivative of the noun rūmen (inflectional stem rūmin) “throat, gullet.” Rūmen is possibly related to Sanskrit romantha– “cud-chewing” and Welsh rhumen “belly, paunch, udder.” Ruminate entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is ruminate used?

“Good night, little ones!” said the Professor. “You may leave me now—to ruminate. I’m as jolly as the day is long, except when it’s necessary to ruminate on some very difficult subject. All of me,” he murmured sleepily as we left the room, “all of me, that isn’t Bonhommie, is Rumination!”

Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, 1893

One of the hardest parts of napping on a schedule is quieting a too-loud brain. It’s easy to ruminate and stress, and to spend half an hour digging through your mind’s detritus rather than unplugging.

February 15, 2021, "How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Nap," New York Times, Tim Barribeau

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