Why Do We Say
Trick Or Treat?
a person's individual speech pattern.
An individual person’s own pattern of speech is called an idiolect, formed from the Greek adjective ídios “private, one’s own, peculiar.” (The English noun idiot comes ultimately from Greek idiṓtēs “private person, a citizen who does not participate in public affairs,” a term of abuse and contempt in Periclean Athens). The combining form –lect, extracted from dialect (from Greek diálektos “speech, language, discourse, accent, manner of speech,” and later “the language of a country or district”), has been promoted to a full word, lect, which in linguistics means “a distinct variety of a language, such as a standard variety or a nonstandard regional dialect.” Idiolect entered English in the mid-20th century.
Vollmann’s idiolect is obsessive, punctilious, twitchy, hyperobservational, and proudly amateurish.
There is debate, for example, over whether we each have an “idiolect,” or unique linguistic fingerprint. And if we do, how consistent is it in academic essays or love letters as opposed to, say, e-mails and text messages? Betcha its not!! 🙂
a quick, witty, or pointed remark or retort.
Zinger, “a quick, witty, pointed remark or answer,” is a derivative of the verb and noun zing, “(to make) a sharp whizzing noise.” It is, unsurprisingly, an American slang term that dates to about 1950.
He delivered his zingers with a sly twinkle in his eye, a deadpan expression, and a laugh so big he’d pull out a handkerchief to wipe the tears from his eyes.
Pope Francis often sprinkles his writings or public speeches with pungent zingers on issues like inequality and environmental destruction.
capable of holding much; spacious or roomy.
The English adjective capacious comes straight from Latin capāc-, the stem of the adjective capax “able to take, take in, contain,” a derivative of the verb capere “to take, catch, seize.” The Latin suffix –ax (stem –āc-) is not very common; it forms adjectives denoting ability or behavior from verbs and some nouns, such as mendax (stem mendāc-) “untruthful, lying” (English mendacious), formed from the noun mendum “blemish, fault, error.” The English element –ious is a variant of the adjective suffix –ous, which comes via Middle English and Old French from the Latin adjective suffix –ōsus. Capacious entered English in the first half of the 16th century.
With its high ceiling and muted lighting, the capacious lobby of the Hotel Okura’s main building seemed like a huge, stylish cave.
this is a vision of a 21st-century city remade with public health in mind, achieving the neat trick of being both more populated and more capacious.
anxiety caused by a dread of environmental perils, especially climate change, and a feeling of helplessness over the potential consequences for those living now and even more so for those of later generations.
Ecoanxiety, “anxiety caused by a dread of environmental perils, especially climate change,” is a compound of the now common combining form eco– “pertaining to ecology or the environment” and anxiety. The combining form eco– comes via Latin oeco-, eco– from Greek oîkos “house” and oikía “house, dwelling.” An early occurrence in Greek of the combining form oik-, oiko– is in the noun oikonomía “management of a household or family, thrift” (source of English economy, which appears in English in the mid-15th century). Another early compound of oik-, oiko– occurs in (hē) oikouménē (gê) “(the) inhabited (earth),” English ecumenic(al). The noun ecology is composed of Greek elements, but oikología does not occur in Greek: English ecology comes from German Oecologie (1866; the word is now spelled Ökologie) “the branch of biology dealing with the relations and interactions between organisms and their environment,” its meaning in English.
Long before eco-anxiety became a national ailment this year, a strong environmental ethic seemed to come naturally to people in Anne Arundel.
I know those feelings. Eco-anxiety. Doing something is about the only thing that helps, in my experience.
into separate parts; in or into pieces: Lightning split the old oak tree asunder.
Asunder, “into separate parts or pieces; widely separated,” comes from Middle English asonder, asondre, osonder (with still more variant spellings), from Old English on sundrum, on sundran, on sundron “separately, separated from one another, apart,” a prepositional phrase meaning literally “in separate (positions),” from the adverb sundor, which has cognate forms in all the Germanic languages, e.g., German sonder “without” (preposition) and Gothic sundro (adverb) “alone, aside, apart.” Sundor and its Germanic relatives come from a Proto-Indo-European root sen-, senə- “separate, apart,” which appears in Latin as sine (preposition) “without,” as in the Medieval Latin phrase (beneficium) sine cūrā “(benefice) without care (of parishioners),” source of English sinecure. Asunder dates from the Old English period.
You don’t enter the school by being strangely keen on chess. … You need to be a mutant, and your gift must be funkily unique to you. Helplessly shooting blood-red beams of flame out of your eyes that rip through the lawn and split a tree asunder: that’s the kind of talent that gets you enrolled …
two souls, two thoughts, two un-reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
a unifying or dominant motif; a recurrent theme: A leitmotif in science fiction is the evolving relationship between humans and machines.
The English noun leitmotif, also spelled leitmotiv, “leading motive, guiding motive, a recurring theme associated with a particular person, place, or event,” comes from the German noun Leitmotif and is especially associated with Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung (the Ring Cycle), but the term antedates Wagner, and Wagner himself never used it. German Leitmotif is a compound of the verb leiten “to guide, lead” (cognate with the English verb lead) and the noun Motiv, a German borrowing from French motif. Leitmotif entered English in the second half of the 19th century.
Two weeks before Christmas, on one of those balmy, pale-gold afternoons that pass for winter in Northern California, a handful of Silicon Valley’s most prominent executives and financiers held a secret meeting whose leitmotif was that rarest of concepts in the world of business: guilt.
So the leitmotif of the inevitability of change and loss in the 10 items of grandfatherly wisdom I wanted to share with him is now something he is experiencing palpably.
dash; impetuous ardor: to dance with great élan.
The still unnaturalized French noun élan, “dash, impetuous ardor,” originally applied to a military charge or rush. Élan comes from Old and Middle French eslan “a rush,” from the verb eslancer “to throw or cast a lance or dart.” Eslancer in turn comes from the Latin preposition and prefix ex, ex- “out, out of, from” and the noun lancea “light spear for throwing,” possibly a Gaulish or Spanish loanword in Latin. Élan entered English in the second half of the 19th century.
He then launched into the Gigue of Bach’s C-major Suite—robust, driving music that Ma brought off with his usual precision and élan.
With a certain élan, the San Francisco Chronicle has taken to publishing letters from readers who remark the diminishing pleasure or usefulness of the San Francisco Chronicle.