Word of the Day

Thursday, June 20, 2019

insipience

[ in-sip-ee-uhns ]

noun

Archaic.

lack of wisdom; foolishness.

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What is the origin of insipience?

Insipience “foolishness” comes via Old French from Latin insipientia. The Latin prefix in-, which has a negative or privative force, as in insipientia, is the ordinary Latin development of a reduced form of Proto-Indo-European ne “not,” which is the same source of Germanic (English un-). The Latin stem –sipient– is a reduced and combining form derived from sapientia “reason, soundness of mind, wisdom,” hence insipientia “foolishness, folly, stupidity.” The root word behind sapientia and insipientia is sapere “to taste, taste of, smell of, have good taste, feel, show good sense, be intelligent.” Sapere is the source of Italian sapere, Spanish saber, and French savoir, all meaning “to know.” The Latin noun sapor “flavor, taste, odor, smell” becomes Italian sapore, Spanish sabor, French saveur, and, through French, English savor and its derivative adjective savory. Insipience entered English in the 15th century.

how is insipience used?

Too many prefer the charge of insincerity to that of insipience—Dr. Newman seems not to be of that number.

Charles Kingsley, What, Then, Does Dr. Newman Mean? 1864

It has to be frustrating to know that you’re surrounded by intelligent, earnest individuals who are prone to moments of public insipience, usually when their fingers are on the voting button.

Richard Hellmann, "Plenty of room for city bed tax," The Courier, May 27, 1987
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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

shog

[ shog, shawg ]

verb (used without object)

to jog along.

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What is the origin of shog?

The verb (and noun) shog “to shake, jolt, to jog along” is now used mostly in British dialect. The Middle English verb shogge(n) is possibly a variant of shock “to strike, jar” and is probably related to the Old High German noun scoc “a swinging, a swing,” Middle High German schock “a swing, a seesaw,” and Middle Dutch, Dutch schok “a shake, a jolt.” Shog entered English in the early 15th century.

how is shog used?

If you don’t mind I’ll shog on! I’ve got to walk fast now, or Gerda will be worrying.

John Cowper Powys, Wolf Solent, 1929

Then shog along homeward, chat over the fight / And hear in our dreams the sweet music all night.

Charles Kingsley, "Go Hark!" 1856
Tuesday, June 18, 2019

epiphonema

[ ep-uh-foh-nee-muh ]

noun

Rhetoric.

a sentence that is an exclamation, a general or striking comment, or a succinct summary of what has previously been said.

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What is the origin of epiphonema?

In classical rhetoric, epiphonema is a term for an exclamation or reflection that strikingly sums up a previous passage or discourse—a kind of moral of the story. It comes via Latin epiphōnēma from Greek epiphṓnēma “a witty saying,” from epiphōneîn “to mention by name, call out, address,” composed of a prefixal use of the preposition epí “upon, on” and phōneîn “to make a sound.” Phōneîn is derived from phonḗ “sound, tone, voice,” ultimately seen in a variety of English words, such as Anglophone, microphone, phonetics, phonology, polyphony, and (tele)phone. Oh, what euphonious words derive from ancient Greek!

how is epiphonema used?

To round off his argument, Montaigne reaches for an epiphonema … “Oh, what a sweet and soft and healthy pillow is ignorance and incuriosity, to rest a well-made head!”

Kathy Eden, "Cicero's Portion of Montaigne's Acclaim," Brill's Companion to the Reception of Cicero, 2015

When the Great Teacher wished to recall or rouse attention he employed an epiphonema, saying, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,” “Verily, verily, I say unto you,” “Hearken unto me every one of you.”

George Winfred Hervey, A System of Christian Rhetoric, for the Use of Preachers and Other Speakers, 1873

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