Word of the Day

Word of the day

Monday, July 26, 2021

hugger-mugger

[ huhg-er-muhg-er ]

noun

secrecy; reticence.

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What is the origin of hugger-mugger?

The noun hugger-mugger, “disorder or confusion; secrecy; reticence,” has the earlier spellings hucker-mucker, hukermoker, hoker moker, hocker-mocker, hugger mucker, and the Scots variants huggrie-muggrie and hudge-mudge. All of these variant forms share reduplication, similar sounds, and nearly identical meanings, but there is no secure origin or origins for them. The word or element mucker leads some scholars to see a connection with Middle English moker “worldly possessions, wealth” and mokeren, mokren “to heap up (money); hoard.” Hugger-mugger entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is hugger-mugger used?

Usually, Victor enjoyed hidden doors, secret passageways, and the hugger-mugger that was necessarily part of any scheme to destroy civilization.

Dan Koontz and Ed Gorman, City of Night, 2005

Newsom doesn’t relish the rote functions of politics. His smile when he poses with voters is a rictus, he ducks fund-raising calls, and he lacks patience for the backroom hugger-mugger required to pass legislation.

Tad Friend, "Gavin Newsom, the Next Head of the California Resistance," The New Yorker, October 29, 2018

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Word of the day

Sunday, July 25, 2021

perorate

[ per-uh-reyt ]

verb (used without object)

to speak at length; make a long, usually grandiloquent speech.

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What is the origin of perorate?

The verb perorate, “to speak at length; make a long, grandiloquent speech,” comes from Latin perōrātus, the past participle of perōrāre “to plead, harangue, argue a case to the end; deliver the final part of a speech, wind up a case.” Perōrāre is a compound of the preposition and intensive prefix per, per– “through, thoroughly” and the simple verb ōrāre “to beseech, supplicate; speak before a court, plead.” Perōrāre and its derivative noun perōrātiō (inflectional stem perōrātiōn– “peroration”) in Latin imply grandiloquence and forcefulness, but not length, let alone long-windedness, which is a connotation that has always existed in English. Perorate entered English in the early 17th century.

how is perorate used?

And it’s simply impossible to exit a Zoom lecture gracefully. Believe me, I’ve tried. After I painstakingly perorate on Plato, a virtual red-velvet curtain should fall with flourish at the designated moment and cue the applause. Instead, we mumble, “that’s it,” and awkwardly fumble for the mouse before the screen freezes on our half-gaping mouths.

Shahidha Bari, "What We've Lost in a Year of Virtual Teaching," The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 17, 2021

She began to perorate. Her speech went on endlessly, as was always the case when Lily Young took the floor.

Antoine Volodine, Minor Angels, translated by Jordan Stump, 2004

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Word of the day

Saturday, July 24, 2021

natant

[ neyt-nt ]

adjective

swimming; floating.

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What is the origin of natant?

Natant, “swimming; floating,” began life in English in the mid-15th century as natand, a term in heraldry describing a swimming fish or dolphin. Natand is an Anglo-French derivative of the Latin participle natant– (the inflectional stem of natāns), from natāre “to swim, float.” Natāre is a frequentative verb formed from the simple verb nāre (a frequentative verb expresses repeated or frequent action). Latin nāre comes from the Proto-Indo-European root snā– (with several variants) “to swim, float.” The root appears in Sanskrit snā́ti “(he) bathes (himself)” and Greek neîn, nḗchein, nā́chein “to swim.” Irish writer Brian O’Nolan (1911-66), whose pen name was Flann O’Brien, wrote a comic masterpiece entitled At Swim-Two-Birds (1939). This title is a literal English translation of Irish Snámh Dá Éan, the name of a ford on the River Shannon. Snámh “swim, swimming” comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root snā– as the Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin words.

how is natant used?

It is said that theirs is a floating metropolis … The solemn ritual of extreme unction is performed by wet-suited priests on natant, paddle-powered funeral parlors wafting placidly along the Eel.

Michael Martone, The Blue Guide to Indiana, 2001

In the lamp glass coconut oil, because it was of the unrefined type, rested golden-hued on water, a natant disc.

Rohinton Mistry, "Condolence Visit," Tales from Firozsha Baag, 1987

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