Word of the Day

Sunday, September 27, 2020

illation

[ ih-ley-shuhn ]

noun

an inference; conclusion.

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What is the origin of illation?

Illation, “drawing an inference or conclusion,” is one of the meanings of the Late Latin noun illātiō (inflectional stem illātiōn-), literally, “a carrying in, a bringing in”; its other meanings include “burial, interment” and “impost or duty.” Illātiō is the noun that corresponds to the Latin verb inferre “to bring, bring into, conclude, infer.” Just as English uses better and best as the comparative and superlative of good, and went as the past tense of go (a process called suppletion), so Latin uses lātus as the past participle of ferre and its derivatives; thus the verbal noun of the verb inferre is illātiō (or inlātiō). Illation entered English in the 16th century.

how is illation used?

Such an illation seems to Croce without foundation and disastrous for the authentic history of that land.

A. Robert Caponigri, History and Liberty: The Historical Writings of Benedetto Croce, 1955

For those that are not men of art, not knowing the true forms of syllogism, nor the reasons of them, cannot know whether they are made in right and conclusive modes and figures or no, and so are not at all helped by the forms they are put into; though by them the natural order, wherein the mind could judge of their respective connexion, being disturbed, renders the illation much more uncertain than without them.

John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1689

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Saturday, September 26, 2020

supernumerary

[ soo-per-noo-muh-rer-ee, -nyoo- ]

adjective

being in excess of the usual, proper, or prescribed number; additional; extra.

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What is the origin of supernumerary?

Supernumerary comes from the Latin adjective supernumerārius “(of soldiers) appointed to a legion after its numbers have been completed,” a compound of the preposition and prefix super, super– “above, higher, more than,” the noun numerus “numerical sum, number,” and the adjective and noun suffix –ārius. In Late Latin (St. Augustine of Hippo), supernumerārius also meant “additional” (adjective) and finally the noun “an additional person.” The English sense “extra person; employee, crew member, or officer” dates from the 17th century; the English sense “person appearing on stage in a nonspeaking role” dates from the mid-18th century. Supernumerary entered English in the early 17th century.

how is supernumerary used?

But our century’s revelations of unthinkable largeness and unimaginable smallness, of abysmal stretches of geological time when we were nothing, of supernumerary galaxies and indeterminate subatomic behavior, of a kind of mad mathematical violence at the heart of matter have scorched us deeper than we know.

John Updike, "Books: Evolution Be Praised," The New Yorker, December 30, 1985

So the housekeeper (it’s usually a she) will stack up the dishes, put the cart in the hallway, clean up the toast crumbs, and then proceed to the rest of her work of stripping the beds, picking up the supernumerary pillows on the floor, wiping the butter stains off the remote, and leaving the bathroom, now with coffee spills, gleaming.

Margaret Carlson, "Tip Your Hotel Maid," The Atlantic, June 16, 2019

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Friday, September 25, 2020

whillikers

[ hwil-i-kerz, wil- ]

interjection

Informal.

(used as an intensive after gee or golly gee to express astonishment, delight, etc.)

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What is the origin of whillikers?

Whillikers and its variant whillikens are used only in the exclamatory phrase (golly) gee whillikers (whillikens). There is no satisfactory etymology for whillikers or whillikens. Gee whillikens first appeared in print in 1851.

how is whillikers used?

“Why,” she gasped, “It’s money!” “Gee whillikers—ten bucks!” Jason echoed.

Peggy Dern, Peddler of Dreams, 1940

We’re all going to look at the things that are thrilling and exciting for him and say, ‘But that music sucks!’ Gee whillikers, guess who else said that? Every generation ever.

Ada Calhoun, "The Many Lives of St. Marks Place," The New Yorker, October 30, 2015

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

cachinnate

[ kak-uh-neyt ]

verb (used without object)

to laugh loudly or immoderately.

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What is the origin of cachinnate?

Cachinnate, “to laugh loudly or immoderately,” comes straight from Latin cachinnātus, the past participle of the verb cachinnāre “to laugh boisterously, guffaw.” Cachinnāre is a verb of imitative origin that even has its own Proto-Indo-European root: khakha– (who knew that primitive Indo-Europeans laughed?). The root khakha– yields Greek kakházein, kakkházein, and kankházein, Old Church Slavonic xoxotati, Old High German kachazzwen, and Sanskrit kákhati “he laughs.” Cachinnate entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is cachinnate used?

She does not laugh so much as cachinnate, finding at least one thing hysterical in every episode.

Philippa Snow, "Like Proper Sexual: On Too Hot to Handle," Los Angeles Review of Books, August 7, 2020

Just don’t expect to guffaw or cachinnate, and forget all about busting a gut. It’s not that kind of comedy.

Mick LaSalle, "Review: 'Little' Is the Opposite of 'Big,' but Not in a Funny Way," San Francisco Chronicle, April 10, 2019

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

butyraceous

[ byoo-tuh-rey-shuhs ]

adjective

of the nature of, resembling, or containing butter.

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What is the origin of butyraceous?

The adjective butyraceous is an expensive word for buttery. Butyraceous comes from Latin butyrum (both the first u and the y may be long or short), from Greek boútȳron “butter,” literally “cow cheese,” according to the traditional (and ancient) etymology, from Greek boûs (inflectional stem boo-, bou-) “cow” and tȳrós “cheese.” Both boûs and tȳrós are very ancient: both occur on Late Bronze Age Linear B clay tablets from Pylos (in the southwest Peloponnesus), and both words are of Proto-Indo-European origin. The closest non-Greek relative to tȳrós is in the ancient Iranian languages: in Avestan (the language of the Zoroastrian scriptures), tūiri– means “whey, cheeselike milk” and tūiriia– means “curdled (milk).” Herodotus states that butter was used by the Scythians, ancient Iranian nomads of the Russian steppes. Latin butyrum (with its variant būtūrum) becomes burre in Old French (beurre in French) and burro in Italian. Latin butyrum was borrowed by the West Germanic languages (as usual, the details and date of the borrowing are disputed): Old English has butere (English butter); German has Butter, Dutch boter. Butyraceous entered English in the 17th century.

how is butyraceous used?

All good butter seems to have disappeared as if by magic, and there remains only a butyraceous compound of hair, butter, chips and rock salt, which is as striped as a zebra and smells as rancid as a goat or a bundle of foul linens.

"Local News: Butter, " Dubuque Herald, October 24, 1860

fine food, lots of the best wine, had given his jowls a butyraceous sheen.

Ken Bruen, Purgatory, 2013

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

caducous

[ kuh-doo-kuhs, -dyoo- ]

adjective

dropping off very early, as leaves.

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What is the origin of caducous?

The adjective caducous “(of leaves) falling early or too early” comes straight from Latin cadūcus “tending to fall, tottery, unsteady; transitory,” a derivative of the verb cadere “to fall, fall over, collapse.” Cadere is also the source of the Latin compound verb dēcidere “to fall down, fall over,” which forms the derivative adjective dēciduus “falling, tending to fall or be dropped” (English deciduous). The botanical difference between caducous and deciduous is that caducous leaves fall too easily or too early, and deciduous leaves fall at the end of the growing season. Caducous entered English in the 18th century.

how is caducous used?

After the flowering period, the ground under the oak, poplar, and other trees, is strewn with their male catkins; these are caducous, falling off soon after they have shed their pollen …

Alex S. Wilson, "Wind Fertilized Flowers," Scientific American, October 12, 1895

So is it with this calamity: it does not touch me: something which I fancied was a part of me, which could not be torn away without tearing me, nor enlarged without enriching me, falls off from me, and leaves no scar. It was caducous.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Experience," Essays: Second Series, 1844

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Monday, September 21, 2020

yare

[ yair or yahr ]

adjective

quick; agile; lively.

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What is the origin of yare?

Yare is an uncommon adjective meaning “ready, prepared.” As is usual for short words, Middle English shows more than two dozen spellings; Old English is more restrained, gearu and gearo being the most common (before the inflections are added). The Old English forms derive from the verb gearwian “to prepare, equip.” Gearwian is the Old English development of the Germanic verb garwian “to prepare, equip, make.” The noun garwi– “equipment, adornment,” a derivative of garwian, is the source for the Old Norse noun gervi, gørvi “apparel, equipment,” source of English gear. The English noun garb comes via Middle French garbe “grace, graceful figure, elegance,” from Italian garbo “form, grace, elegance (of dress),” a derivative of the verb garbare “to be pleasant,” from Old High German garawi “dress, equipment,” ultimately from Germanic garwian.

how is yare used?

dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation; for thy assailant is quick, skilfull, and deadly.

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, 1623

Bear up, gentle laddie, for we must be yare, Or of Bruin the bear else we may be ware.

Frank Horridge, "The Baron of Egisheim," Ballades of Olde France, Alsace, and Olde Holland, 1919

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