verb (used without object)
to associate on very friendly terms (usually followed by with): She often hobnobs with royalty.
The verb hobnob, originally meaning “to drink together, toast one another in turn,” is a rhyming phrase (like willy-nilly). Hobnob is an alteration of hab nab, hab or nab “whether or not, haphazardly,” literally “(whether) I/you/he/she have or not have,” formed from habbe and nabbe, the present subjunctive of the Middle English verbs haven, habben and nabben (Old English habban, nabban) “to have, not to have.” Hobnob was used as a toast when clinking goblets. Willy-nilly comes from will I/you/he/she, nill I/you/he/she “(whether) I/you/he/she want to or not.” Hobnob in the sense “to drink together, toast one another” entered English in the second half of the 18th century; the sense “to associate on friendly terms” entered English in the first half of the 19th century.
… they were to hobnob with nobility and hold friendly converse with kings and princes, grand moguls, and the anointed lords of mighty empires!
Didn’t I want to get out there, hobnob, curry favor, court support, mix it up, do battle, become a gladiator? I did not.
a person who has learned a subject without the benefit of a teacher or formal education; a self-taught person.
Leonardo da Vinci was an autodidact; so were Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison. Autodidact ultimately comes from the Greek adjective autodídaktos “self-taught,” a clear compound of the combining form auto– “self, same” (as in autograph), from the Greek pronoun and adjective autós “self, same,” and the adjective didaktikós “good at teaching, instructive.” Autodidact entered English in the first half of the 16th century.
He’s had a rich life as a blogger, and one of the ways he’s learned—he’s not shy about noting he’s an autodidact—has been through his many followers.
a sudden, unpredictable change, as of one's mind or the weather.
Caprice is capricious. It certainly comes from French, from Italian capriccio; the problem is where does Italian capriccio come from? In Italian, capriccio originally meant “sudden startle, shiver,” now “whim, fancy, fad.” The Italian word may come from an unattested Vulgar Latin capriceus “goat,” the image being of a kid skipping or frisking. Capriccio may also derive from the Italian noun capo “head, leader” (from Vulgar Latin capum, from Latin caput) and riccio (from Latin ēricius “hedgehog”), which as an adjective means “curly, frizzy” and as a noun means “hedgehog,” the image now being of the hair standing on end in fright. Caprice entered English in the second half of the 17th century.
This is only a caprice—and it would be the worst thing in the world to give in to her.
The only difference between a caprice and a lifelong passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer.
the number of members of a group or organization required to be present to transact business legally, usually a majority.
Quorum comes from Latin quōrum “of whom.” (To get into the grammatical weeds, quōrum is the masculine genitive plural of the relative and interrogative pronoun and adjective quī, quae, quod “who, which, what.”) In medieval England, the Latin formula for commissioning justices of the peace would mention certain prominent local persons in general, known for their learning, experience, and prudence, and then specify one or more such persons as definitely to be included: Quōrum ūnum N esse volumus “Of whom we want N to be one.” Such commissioned justices were necessary to constitute a bench and were known as justices of the quorum. The current sense, “the number of members of a group or organization required to be present to transact business legally, usually a majority,” dates from the early 17th century. Quorum entered English in the first half of the 15th century.
… new members can only be approved by a twelve-member quorum, and the shrunken Academy now has ten active members instead of its usual eighteen: a Catch-22 if there ever was one.
Along with two pre-existing vacancies, this will shrink what should be a six-member board to three members—one short of the quorum required to hold meetings and perform many basic functions.
a person or thing that illuminates or inspires: The Bible has been our beacon during this trouble.
Beacon comes from Old English bēacen, bēcen, bēcn “a sign, portent; a standard, banner; a signal, signal fire, signal hill or tower, watchtower; lighthouse.” (Most of these senses appear in Beowulf.) Bēacen comes from Germanic baukna– “beacon, signal,” the source of Old Frisian bāken, Old Saxon bōkan, Old High German bouhhan. The derivative Germanic verb bauknjan “to make a sign, signal” becomes bēcnan in Old English and beckon in English.
As is often the case with those who die young, Martin Luther King Jr. has become more symbol than man: pacifist, beacon of nonviolent racial reform.
At first sight we had not rated the American town favorably, but now it seemed a beacon of civilization.
the sport of cross-country skiing.
Langlauf, “cross-country skiing, cross-country skiing race,” is a German compound noun formed from the adjective lang, cognate with English long, and the noun Lauf “run,” related to English leap (from the Old English noun hlȳp) and lope. Langlauf entered English in the 1920s.
“Haven’t you got a boat that’ll cut through the ice?” … “It’s too thick to get through. Langlauf is the easiest way by far.”
Pontresina, a picture-book village tucked just around the mountain from imperious St. Moritz, turns out to be one of the best places in the world to do cross-country skiing—or langlauf as it’s known.
equivalent in meaning; expressing or implying the same idea; having the character of synonyms or a synonym.
Synonymous comes from the Medieval Latin adjective synōnymus, from Greek synṓnymos “having the same name and nature and definition,” a term that Aristotle uses in his logical system. Synṓnymos is a compound of the preposition and prefix syn, syn– “with, together with” and the noun ónyma, ónoma “name, word, noun.” The English metaphysical poet John Donne is the first writer credited with using synonymous in English in 1610.
But for a while there, Netflix was on its way to being like Kleenex or Coke—a brand name that becomes synonymous with an entire product (in this case, streaming video).
Over time, Instagram became synonymous with artfully posed, aspirational photos of everyday life.