• Word of the day
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    Saturday, May 25, 2019

    hermitage

    noun [hur-mi-tij]
    any secluded place of residence or habitation; retreat; hideaway.
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    What is the origin of hermitage?

    The history of the English noun hermitage is complicated by the unetymological h-. Middle English and Old French have both hermitage and ermitage (and many other spellings). Late Latin (in a 5th-century Christian author) has erēmīta (correctly) “eremite, hermit,” from Greek erēmī́tēs, a very rare noun and adjective meaning “of the desert,” and first occurring in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible dating from the 3rd century b.c.) in the Book of Job. The Greek noun (and therefore the Latin, too) is a derivative of erêmos (also érēmos), an adjective and noun meaning “solitary, desolate, lonely; a desert.” The spellings herēmīta and its derivative herēmītagium “hermitage” first appear in Medieval Latin. Hermitage entered English in the late 13th century.

    How is hermitage used?

    ... I had found out for myself a little hermitage. It was a kind of leafy cave, high upward into the air, among the midmost branches of a white-pine tree. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance, 1852

    In the end, the legend holds, Lancelot goes to live in penitence in a hermitage, while the king, mortally wounded, is set adrift on a ship—to one day rise again. Kathryn Schulz, "Rapt," The New Yorker, March 2, 2015

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, May 24, 2019

    proselyte

    noun [pros-uh-lahyt]
    a person who has changed from one opinion, religious belief, sect, or the like, to another; convert.
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    What is the origin of proselyte?

    The English noun proselyte comes via Old French and Late Latin prosēlytus “sojourner, foreigner, stranger, a convert from paganism to Judaism.” Prosēlytus first occurs in the Vulgate, the Latin version of the Bible, prepared chiefly by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century a.d. Prosēlytus comes from Greek prosḗlytos “one who has arrived, stranger, sojourner.” Prosḗlytos and its kindred terms occur in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible dating from the 3rd century b.c.) and the Greek New Testament. Prosḗlytos is equivalent to an unrecorded prosḗlythos, a derivative of the verb prosérchesthai “to come forward, go, approach.” Proselyte entered English in the 14th century.

    How is proselyte used?

    ... I began to believe that if he did not make a proselyte of me, I should certainly make one of him .... Charlotte Lennox, Henrietta, 1758

    Still, proselytes often find that being Paleo quickly becomes a round-the-clock duty. Alex Williams, "The Paleo Lifestyle: The Way, Way, Way Back," New York Times, September 19, 2014

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, May 23, 2019

    overmorrow

    noun [oh-ver-mawr-oh, ‐mor-oh]
    the day after tomorrow: I’ve heard that tomorrow and overmorrow may bring exceptionally high waves.
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    What is the origin of overmorrow?

    Overmorrow had a brief history, first recorded in the first half of the 16th century and lasting into the second half of that same century. The rare word occurred in the phrase “today, tomorrow, and overmorrow.”

    How is overmorrow used?

    It comes round on the overmorrow / Then why we wake we know aright. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), Faust, translated by Thomas E. Webb, 1880

    "Do ye stop in tha cove over 'morrow, Ralph?" she asked, with a sanguine intonation. W. F. Alexander, "Down Zabuloe Way," The Gentleman's Magazine, August 1898

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, May 22, 2019

    self-possessed

    adjective [self-puh-zest, self-]
    having or showing control of one's feelings, behavior, etc.; composed; poised.
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    What is the origin of self-possessed?

    The adjective self-possessed, which entered English in the mid-18th century, is a derivative of the earlier noun self-possession, which appeared a hundred years earlier.

    How is self-possessed used?

    There was an occasional copied page of her diary in which she appeared contented, and self-possessed: autonomous in a way I could not imagine for myself. Alice Walker, Possessing the Secret of Joy, 1992

    Unburdening himself his coat, he was not self-possessed enough to find in his pocket the scroll of resolutions which every one saw protruding from it ... Wendell Phillips, "Mobs and Education," Speeches, Lectures, and Letters, 1863

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, May 21, 2019

    stellate

    adjective [stel-it, -eyt]
    like the form of a conventionalized figure of a star; star-shaped.
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    What is the origin of stellate?

    Stellate comes straight from the Latin adjective stellātus, formed from the noun stella “star” and -ātus, a suffix that forms adjectives from nouns. The noun stella comes from an unrecorded stēr- or stēr-o-. Stēr- comes from a very widespread Proto-Indo-European root ster-, stēr- “star,” appearing in Sanskrit star-, Germanic (English) star. Greek preserves the most ancient form, astḗr, the a- being the remainder of a Proto-Indo-European laryngeal consonant. Stellate entered English at the end of the 15th century.

    How is stellate used?

    The cut edges of the glasses were projecting stellate tessellations across the mahogany. Ethan Canin, A Doubter's Almanac, 2016

    In their experiments, the researchers placed the amoeba in the center of a stellate chip, which is a round plate with 64 narrow channels projecting outwards, and then placed the chip on top of an agar plate. Lisa Zyga, "Amoeba finds approximate solutions to NP-hard problem in linear time," Phys.org, December 20, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, May 20, 2019

    scaturient

    adjective [skuh-toor-ee-uhnt, -tyoor-]
    gushing; overflowing.
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    What is the origin of scaturient?

    Scaturient is a very rare adjective meaning “bubbling up, gushing forth.” It comes from Latin scaturrient-, scāturient-, the participle stem of scaturriēns, scāturiēns, from the verb scaturrīre, scatūrīre. The Latin verbs are derivatives of scatēre, scatere “to gush violently”; the suffix -urīre is of obscure origin and usually forms desiderative verbs (verbs that express the desire to perform the action denoted by the underlying verb). The Latin root scat- is a derivative of the Proto-Indo-European root skēt- “to jump, spring, hop,” source of Old Lithuanian skasti “to jump, spring,” and perhaps of English shad (the fish), from Old English sceadd. Scaturient entered English in the latter half of the 17th century.

    How is scaturient used?

    The trees, and the flowers, and the butterflies, the green and fragrant earth, all teeming and scaturient with new species. Hartley Coleridge, "Captain James Cook," Biographia Borealis, 1833

    ... we well remember on one fine summer holyday ... sallying forth at rise of sun ... to trace the current of the New River—Middletonian stream!—to its scaturient source .... Charles Lamb, "Newspapers Thirty-Five Years Ago," The Last Essays of Elia, 1833

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, May 19, 2019

    buckram

    noun [buhk-ruhm]
    stiffness of manner; extreme preciseness or formality.
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    What is the origin of buckram?

    The noun buckram has gone through many meanings. In the 13th century it referred to a kind of fine linen or cotton cloth, as for ecclesiastic vestments. In the 15th century buckram referred to a thick, coarse linen or cotton cloth sized with glue or paste, as for stiffening clothing or binding books. By the second half of the 17th century, buckram extended the 15th-century meaning to “stiffness of manner, extreme formality.” The etymology of buckram is obscure: some authorities suggest that the word ultimately comes from Bukhara, Uzbekistan, which manufactured and exported the fine cloth. Buckram entered English in the 13th century.

    How is buckram used?

    You think you are doing mighty well with them; that you are laying aside the buckram of pedantry and pretence, and getting the character of a plain, unassuming, good sort of fellow. William Hazlitt, "On the Disadvantages of Intellectual Superiority," Table-Talk, Vol. 2, 1822

    I had moments when I thought of him as of a man of pasteboard—as though, if one should strike smartly through the buckram of his countenance, there would be found a mere vacuity within. Robert Louis Stevenson, The Master of Ballantrae, 1889

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