Word of the Day

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

hooly

[ hoo-lee, hy-lee ]

adverb

Scot. cautiously; gently.

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What is the origin of hooly?

Hooly in Scottish English is an adjective and adverb meaning “slow, cautious; slowly, cautiously.” It comes from Middle English hōly, from Old Norse hófligr “moderate” or its adverb hófliga “moderately,” derived from the noun hóf “moderation.” Hooly often forms part of the phrase hooly and fairly (fairly meaning “gently, softly, steadily, cautiously”). Hooly entered English in the 14th century.

how is hooly used?

Just to look that their tackle does not graze on the face o’ the crag, and to let the chair down, and draw it up hoolly and fairly–we will halloo when we are ready.

Sir Walter Scott, The Antiquary, 1816

Yet love is kittle and unruly, / And shou’d move tentily and hooly

Allan Ramsay, "To Robert Yarde of Devonshire," 1725
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Monday, October 22, 2018

barnstorm

[ bahrn-stawrm ]

verb

to conduct a campaign or speaking tour in rural areas by making brief stops in many small towns.

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What is the origin of barnstorm?

The original sense of barnstorm, the theater sense, “to tour small towns and rural areas (often in barns),” dates from the second half of the 19th century. The political or campaigning sense “to conduct a speaking tour in rural areas by making brief stops in small towns,” and the professional sports sense “to tour an area playing exhibition games after the regular season” date from the end of the 19th century. The flying or piloting sense “to give exhibitions of stunt flying, participate in airplane races, etc., while touring country towns and rural areas” dates from the first half of the 20th century.

how is barnstorm used?

President Trump and Vice President Pence are barnstorming swing states with 68 days to go before the midterm elections.

Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger, "The Hill's Morning Report -- Trump, Pence barnstorm swing states," The Hill, August 30, 2018

… Mr. Frotman barnstormed the country to encourage state officials to scrutinize the companies that are contracted by the department to manage the loan portfolio, collect debt from students and work out payment plans with delinquent borrowers.

Glenn Thrush, "After Scaling Back Student Loan Regulations, Administration Tries to Stop State Efforts," New York Times, September 6, 2018
Sunday, October 21, 2018

humdinger

[ huhm-ding-er ]

noun

Informal. a person, thing, action, or statement of remarkable excellence or effect.

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What is the origin of humdinger?

The origin of humdinger is speculative. It was originally American slang, first appearing in print at the beginning of the 20th century and in British English about 1926.

how is humdinger used?

… Beethoven gave the Viennese a humdinger, something to make them sit up and take notice.

Michael Steinberg, The Concerto: A Listener's Guide, 1998

Streep, whose speeches are perfect, delivered a humdinger of a tribute to Emma Thompson, who was receiving the best-actress honor, for “Saving Mr. Banks.”

Michael Schulman, "Meryl Streep Pokes Back at Male Hollywood," The New Yorker, January 9, 2014

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