Word of the Day

Saturday, July 13, 2019

infare

[ in-fair ]

noun

Older Use.

a party or reception for a newly married couple.

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What is the origin of infare?

Infare comes from the Old English noun infǣr “a going in, entrance.” In Scots and Ulster English, infare also meant “a party or reception for a newly married couple,” a sense that the Scotch-Irish brought to the U.S. by the late 18th century.

how is infare used?

There could be no wedding in a Hoosier village thirty or forty years ago without an infare on the following day.

Edward Eggleston, Roxy, 1878

Dr. Graham, an entertaining Kentucky centenarian now living, describes the wedding of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, and also the “infare” that followed it—a Homeric marriage feast to which everybody was bidden ….

E. G. J., "New Light on Lincoln's Life," The Dial, March 16, 1900
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Friday, July 12, 2019

federalese

[ fed-er-uh-leez, -lees ]

noun

awkward, evasive, or pretentious prose said to characterize the publications and correspondence of U.S. federal bureaus.

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What is the origin of federalese?

Federalese is the youngest of an unlovely trio, dates to 1944, and has the narrowest reference, being restricted to the federal government. The equally ugly bureaucratese also dates to World War II (1942) and is broader in scope, including state and municipal government. The oldest and most comprehensive term, officialese, dates to 1884. In English the suffix -ese forms derivative adjectives and nouns from names of countries, their inhabitants, and their languages (such as Chinese, Faroese, Portuguese, Japanese, and Brooklynese, too). By analogy with this usage, –ese is used jocularly or disparagingly to form words designating the diction of people or institutions accused of writing in a dialect of their own invention (such as journalese, officialese, bureaucratese, and federalese).

how is federalese used?

The C.D. program echoes the 1950s mania for bomb shelters, but the 1982 version incorporates a new idea. In federalese, it’s called “crisis relocation,” and, like bomb shelters, a lot of it is laughable.

Michael Kramer, "The Fate of the Freeze," New York, June 14, 1982

The language used is bureaucratic gobbledygook, jargon, double talk, a form of officialese, federalese and insurancese, and doublespeak.

Jack Weinstein, as quoted in "Gobbledygook," ABA Journal, November 1984
Thursday, July 11, 2019

peccable

[ pek-uh-buhl ]

adjective

liable to sin or error.

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What is the origin of peccable?

Peccable comes from Old French from the Medieval Latin adjective peccābilis “capable of sin, susceptible to sin,” formed from the Latin verb peccāre “to go wrong, make a mistake, act incorrectly, commit a moral or sexual offense.” Peccable was formed on the model of impeccable, which dates from the first half of the 16th century. Peccable entered English in the early 1600s.

how is peccable used?

In his thought at that sharp moment he blasphemed even against all that had been left of his faith in the peccable Master.

Henry James, The Lesson of the Master, 1888

And Mrs. Hancock delivers Mrs. Malaprop’s peccable usages with impeccable aplomb. Nothing offends this lady so much as having someone cast ”an aspersion upon my parts of speech.”

Walter Goodman, "A Comedy of Manners by Sheridan," New York Times, August 10, 1989
Wednesday, July 10, 2019

eye-minded

[ ahy-mahyn-did ]

adjective

disposed to perceive one's environment in visual terms and to recall sights more vividly than sounds, smells, etc.

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What is the origin of eye-minded?

Eye-minded “tending to perceive one’s environment in visual terms and to recall sights more vividly than sounds or smells” was originally and still is a term used in psychology. Eye-minded has a companion term ear-minded dating from the same year (1888). A third related term motor-minded “tending to perceive one’s environment in terms of mechanical or muscular activity” dates to the end of the 19th century.

how is eye-minded used?

Some persons are “eye-minded.” They particularly enjoy seeing things, and retain visual memories far longer than any other.

Alfred N. Goldsmith, "Electrical Entertainment: A Glimpse Into the Future," New York Times, March 22, 1931

He is a good visualizer, and is eye-minded in every respect.

Joseph Jastrow, "Further Study of Involuntary Movements," The Popular Science Monthly, September 1892
Tuesday, July 09, 2019

donnish

[ don-ish ]

adjective

bookish; pedantic.

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What is the origin of donnish?

The adjective donnish “bookish, pedantic” is a derivative of the Oxbridge term don “a head, fellow, or tutor of a college.” The English noun comes from the Spanish title of respect Don prefixed to a man’s name, as Don Quixote. Spanish don, Portuguese dom ultimately come from Late Latin domnus, a shortening of Latin dominus “lord, master.” Domnus is also the source of Italian Donno, usually reduced to Don, a title of respect for a man, such as Don Corleone.

Latin domina “mistress (of a household), lady (of the imperial family)” is the feminine of dominus, and the source of French and English dame, Spanish doña, Portuguese dona, and Italian donna “woman, lady of the house” and Madonna, literally “my lady,” not only a title of the Virgin Mary, but also a respectful form of address equivalent to French madame. In medieval Florence Madonna was shortened to Mona “Ma’am,” an informal but respectful title for a married woman, such as Mona Lisa. In the Neapolitan dialect (and other southern Italian dialects), intervocalic d becomes r, Madonna thereby becoming Maronna, the final a falling away, leaving the interjection Maronn’, a cry of exasperation. Donna has become a female given name in some parts of the United States with large Italian American populations. Donnish entered English in the early 19th century.

how is donnish used?

Sir Richard was not exactly donnish, but there was an element of the academic in what seemed otherwise to be a traditional, bird-slaughtering, upper-rank Englishman.

John Malcolm, The Gwen John Sculpture, 1985

… [William Safire] founded our On Language column in February 1979 and proceeded to write tens of thousands of words about phrases (fashionable and not), usages (proper and not), roots (definitive and not) and his own donnish taste — not! …

Gerald Marzorati, "On Language with Ben Zimmer," New York Times, March 16, 2010
Monday, July 08, 2019

caducity

[ kuh-doo-si-tee, -dyoo- ]

noun

frailty; transitoriness: the caducity of life.

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What is the origin of caducity?

Caducity is an uncommon noun meaning “frailty, weakness of old age.” It comes from French caducité “obsolescence, cancellation,” a derivation of the adjective caduc “obsolete, deciduous,” from the Latin adjective cadūcus “fallen, falling, liable to fall, frail, fleeting.” Caducity entered English in the 17th century.

how is caducity used?

What remains, the point of the passion, is a fascination with caducity and the relationship of photography to it.

Leslie Epstein, "Stories and Something Else," New York Times, February 14, 1982

A man … to whom, and to whose colleagues, amid the perishable caducity of human affairs, is largely due the pullulation of literary taste ….

Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop, 1919
Sunday, July 07, 2019

everywhen

[ ev-ree-hwen, -wen ]

adverb

all the time; always.

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What is the origin of everywhen?

Everywhen “at all times, always” usually appears in the phrase “everywhere and everywhen.” The word dates from the mid-17th century, but it has never really caught on.

how is everywhen used?

… the Doctor’s time and space machine gives him limitless opportunities to travel everywhere and everywhen—a freedom most of us would love to possess.

Kevin S. Decker, "The Ethics of the Last of the Time Lords," Doctor Who and Philosophy, 2010

Time stood still (that moment was eternal) and it was placeless (ubiquitous, everywhere and everywhen).

Roy Bhaskar, The Philosophy of MetaReality, 2002

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