Word of the Day

Sunday, November 29, 2020

immemorial

[ im-uh-mawr-ee-uhl, -mohr- ]

adjective

extending back beyond memory, record, or knowledge.

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What is the origin of immemorial?

Immemorial “extending back beyond memory or knowledge” ultimately comes from the Medieval Latin adjective immemoriālis, equivalent to the Latin negative or privative prefix im-, a variant of –in, and (liber) memoriālis “record (book).” Immemorial entered English in the early 17th century.

how is immemorial used?

Practical foresters contend and can demonstrate that from time immemorial fire has been the salvation and preservation of our California sugar and white pine forests.

George L. Hoxie, "How Fire Helps Forestry," Sunset, August 1910

Perhaps the most esoteric of the European minority nations is the nation of Wales, Cymru in Welsh, which lives in the flank of England cherishing its own immemorial culture, squabbling and demanding more independence from the United Kingdom.

Jan Morris, "Druids for a Day, Bards Forever," Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2013

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Saturday, November 28, 2020

fussbudget

[ fuhs-buhj-it ]

noun

a fussy or needlessly fault-finding person.

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What is the origin of fussbudget?

Fussbudget “one who is fussy or needlessly faultfinding” is a transparent compound of the nouns fuss “bustle, commotion” and budget “itemized list of funds or expenses.” The word entered English in the early 20th century; it became associated with the character Lucy Van Pelt in the comic strip Peanuts in the 1960s.

how is fussbudget used?

He was a fussbudget. His interest in ideas didn’t match his interest in small, and often silly, facts. Much of the time he saw neither the forest nor the trees but only a bit of the undergrowth.

Richard Rovere, "The Magnificent Fussbudget," Harper's, June 1975

“Friends,” the ever-popular television comedy, has already directed the action away from Chandler, the fussbudget, and Ross, the whiny paleontologist, to Joey of the big biceps and unambiguous urges.

Ginia Bellafante, "Seeing a New Man Calling the Tune, Fashion Gets in Step," New York Times, January 22, 2002

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Friday, November 27, 2020

lagom

[ lo-gawm ]

noun

the principle of living a balanced, moderately paced, low-fuss life.

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What is the origin of lagom?

The uncommon English noun lagom “the principle of living a balanced, moderate life” comes from Swedish lagom, a fossil noun form in the dative plural used as an adverb meaning “just right, just the thing,” literally “according to custom or common sense.” Lagom comes from an unattested Old Norse plural neuter noun lagu “what is laid down,” which in Old Icelandic becomes lǫg “law, laws.” The Old Norse neuter plural noun lagu was taken into late Old English as a feminine singular noun lagu by the year 1000, becoming lawe in Middle English, and law in English. Lagom entered English in the mid-1930s.

how is lagom used?

In the bigger picture, the balance of lagom goes way beyond emotional wellbeing and interior design to become all about belonging and shared responsibility—not just fitting in, but being part of a greater entity.

Linnea Dunne, Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living, 2017

Many of the rituals, recipes and decoration ideas that filled out last year’s mountain of hygge books would fall outside the lagom threshold. To Swedes, they’d seem fussy, a bit much.

Richard Orange, "Calm down trendspotters—'lagom' is not the new hygge," The Guardian, February 6, 2017

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Thursday, November 26, 2020

bounteous

[ boun-tee-uhs ]

adjective

freely bestowed; plentiful; abundant.

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What is the origin of bounteous?

Bounteous comes from Middle English bountevous, bounteuous, bontivous (and other variant spellings) “good, worthy, virtuous; knightly, valiant; generous, liberal,” from Old French bontieus, bontif (masculine), bontive (feminine) “benevolent, full of goodness, from Old French bonté, bontet (source of Middle English bounte, English bounty “generosity, generous gift”), from Latin bonitās (stem bonitāt-) “goodness, excellence.” The spelling bounteous arose in the early 15th century as if the etymology were bounte plus the adjective suffix –ousBounteous entered English in the second half of the 14th century.

how is bounteous used?

Let’s not give up on pies. Usually, there’s a lush and sweet array—a loud hurrah to end the bounteous feast.

Ethel G. Hofman, "A downsized Thanksgiving still means turkey and pie," Jewish News Syndicate, November 9, 2020

Mesmerized by the bounteous displays of freshly harvested produce, artisanal breads, and locally raised meats, I salivated with greedy glee, thinking of the market-inspired menus I could prepare if I moved here.

Katie Robbins, "San Fran's Weekly Food Cart Fest," The Atlantic, February 8, 2010

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

ambrosial

[ am-broh-zhuhl ]

adjective

exceptionally pleasing to taste or smell; especially delicious or fragrant.

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What is the origin of ambrosial?

The English adjective ambrosial comes from the Greek noun ambrosía “immortality; elixir of life, food of the gods.” (Néktar is “the drink of the gods, nectar”). The initial a– of ambrosía is a variant of the prefix an– meaning “not, without, lacking,” as in atheist or anarchy. The b in ambrosía is a glide consonant between the m and the r. The mro is a derivative of -, a variant of the very common Proto-Indo-European root mer-, mor-, – “to die.” The variant – is also the source of Latin mors (stem mort-) “death,” Morta “goddess of death,” and morī “to die,” Armenian mard “man,” Sanskrit mŗtá– “dead,” and Slavic (Polish) martwy “dead.” The root variant – regularly becomes mur– in the Germanic languages, yielding murder in English and Mord “murder” in German. The root variant mor– is the source of Greek mortós and Sanskrit márta– “human (being), mortal,” and Old Persian martiya– “mortal, man.” The root variant mer– is the source of Hittite mert “died.” Ambrosial entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is ambrosial used?

Her dishes were threaded through with the islands’ smoke and spice and with the ambrosial sweetness of tropical fruit …

Helen Rosner, "A New Orleans Chef Navigates Disaster," The New Yorker, August 28, 2020

He quickly sautes the preserved duck with wild onions, bathes it with a buttery white wine sauce, and tosses in the parboiled, bite-sized pasta and the glistening green fiddleheads. After a few ambrosial bites, I call it investigative journalism.

Charlotte Albright, "Fiddlehead: This Fern Is For Eating," NPR, May 29, 2009

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

pother

[ poth-er ]

noun

a heated discussion, debate, or argument; fuss; to-do.

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What is the origin of pother?

All the authorities agree that pother “commotion, uproar; heated argument” has no reliable etymology; indeed, even the words that pother may be related to, like bother, have no trustworthy etymology. (The fact that an early citation of pother is spelled bother just makes things worse.) Pother originally rhymed with other and brother; it acquired its current pronunciation by the beginning of the 19th century.

how is pother used?

Yet what a pother is there of pismires over a grain of sand. But that grain of sand is their whole world.

George William Bagby, A Week in Hepsidam; Being the First and Only True Account of the Mountains, Men, Manners and Morals Thereof, 1879

“I don’t know what’s so very extraordinary about it, or why there should be such a pother,” he began; and he knew that he was insolently ignoring abundant reasons for pother, if there had been any pother. “Yes, I’m engaged.”

William Dean Howells, April Hopes, 1888

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Monday, November 23, 2020

ingenious

[ in-jeen-yuhs ]

adjective

cleverly inventive or resourceful.

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What is the origin of ingenious?

Ingenious comes from late Middle English ingenious “intelligent, resourceful, quick-witted,” from Old French ingenïos, engeignos, from Latin ingeniōsus “clever, talented, gifted.” Ingeniōsus is a derivative of the noun ingenium “natural disposition, temperament, mood; natural ability, cleverness,” and the adjectival suffix –ōsus, the source via Old French and Anglo-French of the English suffix –ous. Ingenious entered English in the second half of the 15th century.

how is ingenious used?

She was an ingenious inventor who planted a seed that would blossom into some of today’s most ubiquitous technology, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, cordless phones and cell phones.

Alice George, "Thank This World War II-Era Film Star for Your Wi-Fi," Smithsonian, April 4, 2019

Yet as ingenious as this inventor was, their toy did not spark a societal revolution.

Cody Cassidy, "Who Invented the Wheel? And How Did They Do It?" Wired, May 6, 2020

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