Word of the Day

Sunday, January 31, 2021

holophrase

[ hol-uh-freyz, hoh-luh- ]

noun

a word functioning as a phrase or sentence, as the imperative Go!

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What is the origin of holophrase?

A holophrase is “a word functioning as a phrase or sentence”; it comes from the Greek adjective hόlos (combining form holo-) “whole, entire,” and the noun phrásis “speech, way of speaking, expression.” Holophrases are the usual form of speech when children are learning to talk, as when your toddler stands in front of you with raised arms, and says “Up,” meaning “Pick me up.” Holophrase entered English at the end of the 19th century.

how is holophrase used?

In dispensing with parts of speech, and in presenting a total situation in one symbol, the holophrase might be called a ‘word gesture.’

Floyd Henry Allport, Social Psychology, 1924

The VC community seems to love its holophrases: “incubate,” “accelerate,” “longtail,” “freemium,” and of course, the mythical “unicorn.” These are all words that serve as shorthand for more involved concepts central to the investment universe.

Ajay Raju, "The Next Silicon Valley Will Be … Philly?" Philadelphia Citizen, October 23, 2018

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Saturday, January 30, 2021

fantabulous

[ fan-tab-yuh-luhs ]

adjective

extremely fine or desirable; excellent; wonderful.

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What is the origin of fantabulous?

Fantabulous, a slang term meaning “excellent, wonderful,” is a blend of fantastic and fabulous. The word first appeared in the US in 1953, in New Zealand in 1959, and in the UK by 1961.

how is fantabulous used?

Stolen money enhanced the flavor of everything it bought, made every game of pinball more fantabulous and fun.

Brent Staples, "I Oiled the Hinges," New York Times Magazine, October 8, 1995

“It was great,” Bobby said. “Fantabulous. Thanks for taking me. It was practically the best movie I ever saw.”

Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis, 1999

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Friday, January 29, 2021

alembic

[ uh-lem-bik ]

noun

anything that transforms, purifies, or refines.

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What is the origin of alembic?

Alembic “a vessel with a beaked cap or head, formerly used in distilling,” covers quite a bit of Western civilization. It comes from Middle English alambik, alembec, lambic, lembic, from Middle French alembic, alambic and from Medieval Latin alembicus, alembicum. The English, French, and Latin forms come from Arabic al-anbīq, composed of al– “the” and anbīq “a vessel for distilling, a distilling flask, a still.” Anbīq comes via Persian from Greek ámbix (stem ámbīk-) “a vessel with a spout, an alembic.” Alembic entered English in the late 14th century.

how is alembic used?

What caused this hasty decision? Or had change formed slowly in the alembic of his discontent?

Regina O'Melveny, The Book of Madness and Cures, 2012

But the more he read the more he was astonished to find how the facts had passed through the alembic of Carlyle’s brain and had come out and fitted themselves, each as a part of one great whole, making a compact result, indestructible and unrivalled …

James T. Fields, "Some Memories of Charles Dickens," Atlantic Monthly, August 1870

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