something causing superstitious fear; a bogy.
Hobgoblin is a compound of the nouns hob and goblin. Hob (also Hobbe), a pet form or nickname of Robin or Robert, was used as early as the 15th century as a shortened form of Robin Goodfellow, a.k.a. Puck (as in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and a.k.a. Hobgoblin (i.e., the common noun used as a personal name). Goblin comes from Middle English gobelin goblin, gobolin “a devil, incubus, fairy,” from Middle French gobellin. Further etymology is uncertain and speculative: The French forms may come from Medieval Latin gobelīnus, from an unrecorded Late Latin gobalus, cabalus “domestic sprite,” from Greek kóbalos “malicious knave, mischievous genie.” The Latin suffix –īnus and French suffix –in complete the word. Hobgoblin entered English in the first half of the 16th century.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
The enemy was very real, literally an existential foe … not just the hobgoblin of alleged McCarthyite paranoia.
a fine point, particular, or detail, as of conduct, ceremony, or procedure.
The English noun punctilio comes via Italian puntiglio “minor point (of detail or behavior),” from Spanish puntillo “a dot, minute point, point of honor” a diminutive of punto “point, spot, dot.” The Spanish and Italian noun punto comes from Latin punctum “small hole, puncture,” a noun use of the past participle punctus from the verb pungere “to pierce, prick, sting (of insects).” The c in Latin punctum is the source of c in English punctilio. Punctilio entered English in the late 16th century.
I omitted not the least punctilio, and was surprised that in these matters I should know without ever having learned. I arranged all my papers, and regulated all my affairs, without the least assistance from any one.
This version of the dance gets a shortened title, “Errand” — a punctilio that the deviations from the original seem too minor to justify.
Scots English has many interesting words, and stownlins is one of them. Stownlins is an adverb meaning “secretly, stealthily.” Stownlins is formed from stown, Scots for English stolen, and the compound adverb suffix -lins, formed from the now rare and dialectal suffix -ling and the adverb suffix -s (as in English always, unawares). Stownlins appears in print in 1786 in a poem by Robert Burns, which guarantees its immortality.
But she my fairest faithfu’ lass / And stownlins we sall meet again.
An’ stownlins I tak o’ her charms a survey, / For my courage aye fails when to speak to’r I try.
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