Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

hiemal

[ hahy-uh-muhl ]

adjective

of or relating to winter; wintry.

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What is the origin of hiemal?

Hiemal “of or relating to winter” comes from Latin adjective hiemālis, of the same meaning, from hiems “winter.” Another adjective related to hiems is hībernus “wintry,” which is the source of hibernal and hibernate. Hiems comes from the Proto-Indo-European root ghei- “winter,” which is also the source of Ancient Greek chiṓn “snow” and cheimṓn “winter” as well as Sanskrit hima “snow,” as in Himalayas, the mountain range in southern Asia. The English word winter, in contrast, derives instead from the same root as water and wet. Hiemal was first recorded in English in the 1550s.

how is hiemal used?

School was taught from the fifteenth of September to the twenty-fifth of May, with a couple of interruptions…Since snow and frost lasted from October well into April, no wonder the mean of my school memories is definitely hiemal.

Robert Roper, Nabokov in America: On the Road to Lolita, 2015

The air through which it raced was thin, with less than one per cent of sea-level pressure, and at sixty below as deadly cold as the most hiemal places on earth, but despite that the matt-black [sic] titanium alloy skin of the aircraft seared with enough heat to vaporise a hand.

Peter Fox, Downtime, 1986
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Word of the day

Monday, December 20, 2021

ecliptic

[ ih-klip-tik ]

noun

the great circle formed by the intersection of the plane of the earth's orbit with the celestial sphere; the apparent annual path of the sun in the heavens.

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What is the origin of ecliptic?

Ecliptic “the circle formed by the intersection of the plane of the earth’s orbit with the celestial sphere” comes by way of Middle English and Medieval Latin from Ancient Greek ekleiptikós “of an eclipse,” from the verb ekleípein “to leave out, “to fail to appear, to forsake one’s place.” These latter senses of ekleípein inform the definition of eclipse, an event in which the sun or moon refuses to appear. Ekleípein comes from the Proto-Indo-European root leikw- “to leave” and is related to the English numbers eleven and twelve, from Old English endleofan and twelfe, literally “one left over” and “two left over” (after counting to ten). An additional relative is the Latin verb linquere “to forsake, leave, quit” (as in delinquent, derelict, and relinquish). Ecliptic was first recorded in English in the late 1300s.

how is ecliptic used?

The reason all of the planets and our moon pretty much take the same ecliptic path among the stars is that they, along with our Earth, all orbit the sun in the nearly [sic] the same geometric plane. They also move along the ecliptic at different speeds. The planets close to the sun, like Venus and Mercury are on a celestial caffeine high, and they zip along the ecliptic because they whip around the sun much faster than outer planets like Uranus and Neptune, that really take their sweet time completing the ecliptic circuit. Consider the ecliptic the long and winding road in the stars.

Mike Lynch, “Starwatch: Planets travel the superhighway of the heavens,” AP News, May 6, 2017

The planets in our solar system mostly orbit around the Sun in a disk known as the ecliptic. Mercury and Pluto are the outliers, but the others only vary by a few degrees from this plane. This happens around other stars as well. However, the ecliptics of other stars are not necessarily lined up with our point of view. The farther off the ecliptic we are, the less likely we are to see a transit …. Distance factors in here, as well. The closer a planet is to its star, the farther off the ecliptic we can be and still see a transit. For planets farther away from their star, we need to be viewing the system from close to edge-on.

Scott Sutherland, "Astronomers may have spotted signs of an alien planet in a distant galaxy," Weather Network, October 26, 2021
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Word of the day

Sunday, December 19, 2021

matcha

[ mah-chuh ]

noun

a finely ground powder made from small green tea leaves that have been steamed briefly, then dried, used to make tea and as a flavoring in desserts.

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What is the origin of matcha?

Matcha “a finely ground powder made from small green tea leaves” is a borrowing from Japanese and can also be transliterated as maccha and mattya. The term is a compound of the Japanese verb matsu “to rub, grind” and the noun cha “tea.” Cha is a distant relative of tea; the Japanese and English words both derive from Middle Chinese and have a long and complicated history. As a Wanderwort, a word that has spread as a loanword across a long chain of unrelated languages, tea derives by way of Dutch and Malay from dialectal Chinese (Xiamen) t’e; compare Mandarin chá, which was borrowed via Russian and Turkish into English as chai. From there, te likely derives from a word for “leaf” in Proto-Sino-Tibetan, the reconstructed language ancestral to Burmese, Chinese, and Tibetan. Matcha was first recorded in English in the 15th century.

how is matcha used?

[B]ecause matcha is ground, the entire leaf is consumed in powdered form. This makes matcha tea a highly concentrated version of regular green tea, and only a teaspoon or less of powder is needed to make a bowl …. The leaves are mostly hand-picked, then steamed, air-dried and de-stemmed. They are stored in that dry state for up to a year until the next harvest. Then they are stone-ground.

Laurel Dalrymple, “Tea Tuesdays: Matcha-maker, Matcha-maker, Make Me Some Tea,” NPR, May 12, 2015

In the foyer of a Japanese vegetarian restaurant on East 39th Street, around the corner from several nail salons and the House of Lasagna, a Japanese tea ceremony was unfolding. Kato Riichiro, the manager of Ippodo Tea, had before him a whisk, a sieve, a wooden spoon and, most important, a bowl of vivid green powder. This is matcha, a very particular kind of Japanese tea that is not easy to come across even in such a caffeinated city.

Jackie Snow, "Where Starbucks Meets Matcha: Ippodo Tea in Murray Hill," New York Times, December 12, 2014
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