Informal. a person, thing, action, or statement of remarkable excellence or effect.
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.
… Beethoven gave the Viennese a humdinger, something to make them sit up and take notice.
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.”
sincere and undivided in feeling or spirit; dedicated; not reflecting mixed emotions: He was single-hearted in his patriotism.
Single-hearted was first recorded in 1570–80.
Whatever becomes of me, I shall remember always this single-hearted devotion of yours, Margaret, and I shall thank God that I know of it and love you for it.
… one gets what one goes after with single-hearted purpose, but otherwise not.
Rhetoric. the repetition of a word or phrase to gain special emphasis or to indicate an extension of meaning, as in Ex. 3:14: “I am that I am.”
The uncommon English rhetorical term ploce comes via Late Latin plocē from Greek plokḗ, a noun with many meanings: “twining, twisting, braid; complication (of a dramatic plot); construction (of a syllogism); web, web of deceit; (in biology) histological structure; (in rhetoric) repetition of the same word in close succession in a slightly different sense or for emphasis” (e.g., “A man should act like a man”). Greek plokḗ comes from the verb plékein “to weave, braid, twine,” from the Proto-Indo-European root plek-, plok-, source of Latin plicāre “to fold, bend, roll, twine” and the combining form -plex, used in forming numerals, e.g. simplex, duplex, triplex (equivalent to English -fold). The Proto-Indo-European neuter noun ploksom becomes flahsam in Germanic and flax in English. In Slavic (Polish), plek- forms the verb pleść “to plait, weave.” Ploce entered English in the 16th century.
Ploce is the repetition of the same word under different forms or with different meanings in the same sentence…. as–“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
There he found examples of such figures or tropes as synechdoche, metonymy, meiosis, amplification, ploce, polyptoton, etc., all designed to enhance the style of the would-be poet and preacher.
a person whose dead body has been preserved by the technique of cryonics.
The rare noun cryonaut derives clearly and simply from the Greek nouns krýos “icy cold” and naútēs “sailor.” Krýos comes from the Proto-Indo-European root kreus-, krus- “to freeze, form a crust,” from which Greek also derives krýstallos “ice” (English crystal). Krus- is also the source of Latin crusta “a hard covering, scab, crust.” Naútēs is a derivative of the noun naûs “ship,” from the same Proto-Indo-European source as Latin nāvis “ship,” nauta “sailor,” and nāvigāre “travel by ship.” Cryonaut entered English in the 20th century.
… cryonics … has now been around for 60 years, since the death of retired psychology professor James H. Bedford. Alcor, the company that still has his body in a frozen chamber, calls him the first “cryonaut.”
For the moment, preservation is a pricey proposition, largely because each “cryonaut” must set aside enough capital to pay for maintenance indefinitely out of interest alone.
any of various stones or fossils formerly thought to be fallen thunderbolts.
Thunderstone in the sense “thunderbolt” dates from the end of the 16th century; the sense “stone or fossil” dates from the late 17th century.
Palta might not be hidden from the sky; thus the sacred thunder-stone of Terminus at Rome stood under a hole in the roof of Jupiter’s temple …
In Germany until the early 20th century people believed in the magic properties of the devil’s fingers, known also as catstones, thunderstones, wombstones or even candles of the dead. According to ancient lore these strange stones are falling from the sky and witches can use them to cause thunderstorms.
a language and word lover.
Linguist has existed in English since the 16th century. It means “one who is adept at learning and using foreign languages; one who is a student of language or linguistics; a translator or interpreter.” Linguaphile has a somewhat different meaning: “one who loves words or languages.” The originally Greek suffix -phile (“lover of”) is completely naturalized in English. Lingua in Latin means “tongue, language”; its Old Latin form was dingua, from Proto-Indo-European dṇghwā, which is also the source of Germanic (English) tongue, and of Celtic (Old Irish) teng, Baltic inžũ-, and Slavic (Polish) język (with Baltic and Slavic loss of initial d-; ę represents a nasalized vowel). Linguaphile entered English in the late 20th century.
The collection has so many good passages — whole paragraphs that move into pages with never a misstep — that any linguaphile could spend a great afternoon in a little spasm of dazzle.
In the story “Entourage,” a linguaphile travels to Poland, Denmark, Germany, Turkey, and more, collecting suitcases full of books in their original languages.
a casual, amateurish chess player.
Patzer was first recorded in 1955–60. It is probably from German Patzer “bungler,” equivalent to patz(en) “to bungle” (compare Austrian dialect Patzen “stain, blot,” patzen “to make a stain”).
Anatoly Karpov, the champion before Kasparov, once said the only difference between a prodigy and a patzer was how far into the future a player could look.
You’re a patzer. Look that up in your dictionary.