Word of the Day

Word of the day

Thursday, July 15, 2021

insouciant

[ in-soo-see-uhnt; French an-soo-syahn ]

adjective

free from concern, worry, or anxiety; carefree; nonchalant.

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What is the origin of insouciant?

Insouciant, “free from concern or anxiety; carefree; nonchalant,” comes straight from French insouciant, literally “not caring,” a compound of the French negative prefix in– “not” (from Latin in-, and naturalized in English in– from both Latin and French borrowings), and the present participle souciant “caring,” from the verb soucier “to trouble, care.” Soucier comes from Vulgar Latin sollicītāre “to worry, vex,” from Latin sollicitāre “to disturb, harass.” The French noun souci “care, worry” is part of the phrase sans souci “without worries, carefree,” which, spelled Sanssouci, is the name of the summer palace built by King Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, between 1745 and 1747. Insouciant entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is insouciant used?

And while I expected to meet people electrified by political change, I mainly encountered cautious optimism mixed with insouciant shrugs toward the politicians.

Sebastian Modak, "Don't Sleep on Tunis, a City That's More Awake Than Ever Before," New York Times, October 29, 2019

She preferred to take the more insouciant attitude of an old veteran who has been there, done that, seen it all. “I’ve won so many grand slam titles. And I’m at a position where I don’t need to win another Wimbledon,” she smiled.

Alan Baldwin, "I don't need to win another Wimbledon, says Serena," Reuters, July 9, 2015

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Word of the day

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Gallicism

[ gal-uh-siz-uhm ]

noun

a French idiom or expression used in another language, as Je ne sais quoi when used in English.

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What is the origin of Gallicism?

Gallicism has three related meanings in English: The first one is “a French phrase or idiom used in another language,” as when in English one says Je ne sais quoi, meaning “an indefinable, elusive quality” (literally, “I don’t know what”); the second meaning is “a feature characteristic of or peculiar to the French language”; and the third, “a custom or trait considered to be characteristically French.” Gallicism comes via French gallicisme from the Latin adjective Gallicus “pertaining to Gaul (modern France, roughly) or the Gauls.” Gallicism entered English just after the middle of the 17th century.

how is Gallicism used?

With regard to mise-en-scene, Mr. William Archer … raises the difficulty that if you represent the Gallicism by an Americanism and speak of “staging,” you are still in the difficulty that you cannot substitute a cognate word for metteur-en-scene.

G. W. Dancy, "Critics' Gallicisms," The Theatre, November 1, 1890

True, she has cultivated a public persona that borders on self-parody, puffing on Marlboro Lights as she speaks, her conversation spiked with thorny Gallicisms. “C’est pas possible!” she will say of the scores of bloggers preening at Lincoln Center during Fashion Week.

Ruth La Ferla, "Carlyn Cerf de Dudzeele: A Legend Who’s Unafraid to Say So," New York Times, November 13, 2013

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Word of the day

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

zeitgeist

[ tsahyt-gahyst ]

noun

the spirit of the time; general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period of time.

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What is the origin of zeitgeist?

Zeitgeist, “the spirit of the time; general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period,” comes straight from German Zeitgeist. In German, the noun dates from the late 18th century; it is a compound of Zeit “time, age, epoch” (related to English tide, which waits for no man) and Geist “spirit, mind, intellect” (related to English ghost). The English translation of Zeitgeist as “Time-Spirit” appears in English in Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus (1834). Time-spirit still occurs in English publications, but nowadays zeitgeist, spelled without a capital z in English, is becoming common (in German all nouns are capitalized, e.g., Zeit, Geist, Butter “butter,” Milch “milk,” and Eier “eggs”). Capitalizing important words (not only nouns) was also formerly the custom in English, as in the preamble to our Declaration of Independence: “When in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another….” Zeitgeist entered English toward the middle of the 19th century.

how is zeitgeist used?

Khan represents the zeitgeist at a time when politicians on the left and right say tech giants have too much power and half of Americans say they should be more regulated.

Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jason Karaian, Sarah Kessler, Stephen Gandel, Michael J. de la Merced, Lauren Hirsch and , "Robinhood Looks Beyond Its Big Fine," New York Times, July 1, 2021

Likewise, board games and stuffed animals are a product of the Industrial Age. These objects taught kids to see themselves in ways that aligned with the zeitgeist of a particular time and place.

Jordan Shapiro, "Screen Time for Kids Might Not Be Such a Bad Thing," Scientific American, December 13, 2018

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