Word of the Day

Monday, April 02, 2018

inscape

[ in-skeyp ]

noun

the unique essence or inner nature of a person, place, thing, or event, especially depicted in poetry or a work of art.

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What is the origin of inscape?

It is likely that the English poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89) coined the noun inscape. The obsolete noun inshape (i.e., internal form or inward shape) was a probable model. Hopkins also coined sprung rhythm and instress (i.e., the force sustaining an inscape). Inscape entered English in 1868.

how is inscape used?

Spanish chestnuts: their inscape here bold, jutty, somewhat oaklike, attractive, the branching visible and the leaved peaks spotted so as to make crests of eyes.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889), "Journal for 1868," The Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins, 2015

What we wanted to do was to marry the meaning with the “inscape” of the poem.

Colum McCann, Author's note on "An Ode to Curling," The New Brick Reader, 2013
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Sunday, April 01, 2018

shavie

[ shey-vee ]

noun

Scot. a trick or prank.

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What is the origin of shavie?

Shavie is a rare word used in Scottish poetry, first appearing in English in the 18th century and current for just a little more than a century after that.

how is shavie used?

But urchin Cupid shot a shaft / That play’d a dame a shavie

Robert Burns, "The Jolly Beggars," 1785

‘Twas then that Love played him a shavie, / And strak his dart in donsie Davie.

William Nicholson, "The Country Lass," Tales in Verse and Miscellaneous Poems: Descriptive of Rural Life and Manners, 1814
Saturday, March 31, 2018

kosher

[ koh-sher ]

adjective

Informal. a. proper; legitimate. b. genuine; authentic.

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What is the origin of kosher?

Kosher is one of the most common words of Yiddish origin in American English. Yiddish kosher comes from Hebrew kosher (Ashkenazi pronunciation), from Hebrew kāshēr “right, fit, proper.” Kosher as an adjective “pertaining to foods prepared according to Jewish dietary law” dates from the mid-19th century; the sense “proper, legitimate” dates from the late 19th century. Kosher as a noun “kosher food, kosher store” dates from the late 19th century.

how is kosher used?

This is kosher. I’m an officer of the court requesting assistance from a citizen.

Loren D. Estleman, King of the Corner, 1992

Forsyth knew that was all a cover story. He knew the whole setup wasn’t kosher.

Michael Savage, Abuse of Power, 2011
Friday, March 30, 2018

sepulcher

[ sep-uh l-ker ]

noun

a tomb, grave, or burial place.

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What is the origin of sepulcher?

Sepulcher comes via French from Latin sepulcrum “grave, tomb,” a derivative of the verb sepelīre “to perform the funeral rites, bury, inter.” The Latin verb comes from the Proto-Indo-European root sep- “to honor,” extended to sep-el- “sorrow, care, awe.” The same root appears in Sanskrit sapati “(he) worships, tends.” The Greek derivative of sep- is the root hep-, which usually occurs in compound verbs, e.g., amphiépein “to look after, tend to,” as in the last line of the Iliad, “Thus they tended to (amphíepon) the funeral of horse-taming Hector.” Sepulcher entered English in the 13th century.

how is sepulcher used?

The stale suffocating room felt like a sepulcher

Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings, 2014

A clattering-rattling sound. A bony sound. Like the skeletons of long-dead men clawing their way out of a sepulcher.

Dean Koontz, Phantoms, 1983
Thursday, March 29, 2018

gadzookery

[ gad-zoo-kuh-ree ]

noun

British. the use or overuse of period-specific or archaic expressions, as in a historical novel.

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What is the origin of gadzookery?

Gadzookery was first recorded in 1950–1955.

how is gadzookery used?

The language is convincing, and free of the gadzookery of Elizabethan pastiche.

Charles Nicholl, "Exiting the Stage," New York Times, January 25, 2013

Several other stories and verses that they jointly contributed to magazines are historical and melodramatic in tone, larded with archaic oaths and exclamations and general gadzookery.

Julia Briggs, A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit, 1987
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

timeserver

[ tahym-sur-ver ]

noun

a person who shapes his or her conduct to conform to the opinions of the time or of persons in power, especially for selfish ends.

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What is the origin of timeserver?

Timeserver was first recorded in 1565–75.

how is timeserver used?

He was labeled unreliable. He could even be thought a double-dealer or timeserver.

Eitaro Ishizawa, "Too Much About Too Many," Ellery Queen's Japanese Golden Dozen, 1978

“I couldn’t marry Belinda to a time-server or a palace-worshipper,” said the King decidedly.

Edith Nesbit, The Magic World, 1912
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

kismet

[ kiz-mit, -met, kis- ]

noun

fate; destiny.

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What is the origin of kismet?

The English noun kismet “fate” comes straight from Turkish kismet, which in turn comes from Persian qismat, from Arabic qisma, qismat- “lot,” from qasama “(he) divided,” from the (West) Semitic root qsm- “to divide, allot.” Long before the arrival of Islam, Persian was used as an imperial administrative and literary language, contributing to the vocabulary of neighboring languages, especially the Turkic languages of Anatolia, central Asia, and some Indo-Aryan languages of the Indian subcontinent, especially Urdu. These languages received terms relating to Islam indirectly via Persian rather than directly from Arabic. Kismet entered English in the 19th century.

how is kismet used?

In the way that a randomly shuffled song on your headphones can feel like thrilling kismet, suddenly, this semi-animate speaker seemed to belong in my home.

Sarah Larson, "Yelling at Amazon's Alexa," The New Yorker, October 6, 2016

It was kismet that it happened with you, and today!

Orhan Pamuk, The Black Book, translated by Güneli Gün, 1994

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