Word of the Day

Monday, February 26, 2018

hyetal

[ hahy-i-tl ]

adjective

of or relating to rain or rainfall.

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What is the origin of hyetal?

The English adjective hyetal is very uncommon, used only in meteorology. The Greek noun hyetόs means “rain”; the noun hyetía means “rainy weather”; both nouns derive from the verb hýein “to rain.” In English and other languages (German, for example), verbs of weather and natural phenomena are impersonal (e.g., it is raining, es regnet; it is snowing, es schneit). In Greek, however, such verbs are personal, Zeus or another god being understood as the subject if not explicitly named; thus hýei means to a Greek not “it is raining,” but “Zeus is raining,” and neíphei “Zeus is snowing.” Hyetal entered English in the 19th century.

how is hyetal used?

What grand cause has operated to disturb the ordinary rate of hyetal precipitation … is a question to be studied by climatologists.

, "The Drought and Smoky Days in Central New-York," New York Times, July 23, 1864

Hyetal regions, mean annual cloudiness, co-tidal lines, cyclonic rotations, and progressive low pressure systems are not charming in themselves.

Michael Innes, There Came Both Mist and Snow, 1940
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Sunday, February 25, 2018

mores

[ mawr-eyz, -eez, mohr- ]

plural noun

Sociology. folkways of central importance accepted without question and embodying the fundamental moral views of a group.

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What is the origin of mores?

The Latin noun mōrēs is the plural of mōs “custom, habit, usage, wont.” The Latin noun, whether singular or plural, has a wider range of usage than English mores has. Mōs may be good, bad, or indifferent: in Cicero’s usage the phrase mōs mājōrum “custom of our ancestors” is roughly equivalent to “constitution”; mōs sinister means “perverted custom,” literally “left-handed”; and Horace used to walk along the Via Sacra as was his habit (mōs). Mores entered English in the late 19th century.

how is mores used?

… as Lincoln now feared, with the passing of this noble generation, “if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the Government is the natural consequence.” To fortify against this, Lincoln essentially proposed that the national mores of America—taught in every classroom, preached in every church, proclaimed in every legislative hall—must revolve around “reverence” to the laws …

David Bahr, "Abraham Lincoln's Political Menagerie," Forbes, June 29, 2017

… the artist has always considered himself beyond the mores of the community in which he lived.

Philip Roth, The Ghost Writer, 1979
Saturday, February 24, 2018

tutti

[ too-tee ]

adjective

Music. all; all the voices or instruments together.

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What is the origin of tutti?

The Italian word tutti means “all,” i.e., all the instruments or voices of an orchestra together. Tutti is the masculine plural of tutto “all,” from Vulgar Latin tottus (unattested), from Latin tōtus. Tutti entered English in the 18th century.

how is tutti used?

He used to say that music could be either about almost nothing, one tiny strand of sound plucked like a silver hair from the head of the Muse, or about everything there was, all of it, tutti tutti, life, marriage, otherworlds, earthquakes, uncertainties, warnings, rebukes, journeys, dreams, love, the whole ball of wax, the full nine yards, the whole catastrophe.

Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, 1999

You will hear the very obvious difference in volume between the tutti notes and the immediately following music, which is still forte but is played by fewer instruments.

Robert Nelson, Carl J. Christensen, Foundations of Music, 2006

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