Word of the Day

Word of the day

Monday, December 27, 2021

inspissate

[ in-spis-eyt ]

verb (used with or without object)

to thicken, as by evaporation; make or become dense.

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What is the origin of inspissate?

Inspissate “to thicken, as by evaporation” derives from Latin inspissāre “to thicken,” from the adjective spissus “thick.Spissus is of uncertain ultimate origin but may be cognate to Ancient Greek spídios “wide” and spidnón “thick,” and its other descendants include English spissitude “the condition of a fluid thickened almost to a solid,” French épais “thick,” and Spanish espeso “dense.” Inspissate was first recorded in English in the 1620s.

how is inspissate used?

On the coast the principal ports and towns supply themselves with sea salt evaporated in the rudest way. Pits sunk near the numerous lagoons and back-waters allow saline particles to infiltrate; the contents, then placed in a pierced earthenware pot, are allowed to strain into a second beneath. They are inspissated by boiling, and are finally dried in the sun, when the mass assumes the form of sand.

Sir Richard Francis Burton, The Lake Regions of Central Africa: A Picture of Exploration, Vol. 2, 1860

Anna and I got as gussied up as grad students could and were soon seduced not only by the food at Maxim’s but also by the belle époque decor …. I remember having duck l’orange …. Dad had something with beef in it, Anna a lobster thermidor with a sauce so viscous that two George Foremans couldn’t have finished it. There was sauce on everything, all inspissated with butter, flour, crème fraîche. To me, it was all the hautest of haute, and delicious.

Jonathan Reynolds, "The Death of French Food, Part Deux," New York Times, August 6, 2000
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Word of the day

Sunday, December 26, 2021

enkindle

[ en-kin-dl ]

verb (used with or without object)

to kindle into flame, ardor, activity, etc.

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What is the origin of enkindle?

Enkindle “to kindle into flame, ardor, or activity” is a compound of the prefix en-, which serves as a transitive marker, and the verb kindle “to start (a fire); cause to begin burning.” Kindle derives from Old Norse kynda and is related to Old Norse kindill “torch, candle.” Despite the phonetic similarity, however, kindle is not related to candle, the latter of which is of Latin origin and comes from the same source as incandescent and incendiary. It is likely that kindle has been influenced in meaning and/or spelling by the unrelated homonym kindle “to bear (young),” which comes from the Old English noun gecynd “offspring.” Enkindle was first recorded in English in the 1540s.

how is enkindle used?

In the cold courts of justice the dull head demands oaths, and holy writ proofs; but in the warm halls of the heart one single, untestified memory’s spark shall suffice to enkindle such a blaze of evidence, that all the corners of conviction are as suddenly lighted up as a midnight city by a burning building, which on every side whirls its reddened brands.

Herman Melville, Pierre, 1852

Scents of Power is illuminating to the benighted, just as it is enlightening to the elite. In it, we identify an ideologue who isn’t a bohemian and one whose trajectory enkindles hope for voices on the fringe and the journalism practice itself. This well written book invites you to take more than a cursory look.

Henry Akubuiro, "The Amanze Obi phenomenon: Journalistic odyssey of a raconteur," Sun Nigeria, October 7, 2021
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Saturday, December 25, 2021

paean

[ pee-uhn ]

noun

any song of praise, joy, or triumph.

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What is the origin of paean?

Paean “any song of praise, joy, or triumph” derives via Latin paeān “religious or festive hymn” from Ancient Greek paián, a song addressed to Apollo in gratitude. This term is a common use of the name Paiā́n, which was originally the name of the physician of the gods but later became a nickname for Apollo. While Paiā́n is of uncertain origin, possibly pre-Greek, it has another floral descendant in English: peony, the state flower of Indiana. Paiā́n is not related to Pan, the name of the Greek god of forests, pastures, and shepherds. Paean was first recorded in English circa 1540.

how is paean used?

[Poet Nikky] Finney’s couplets reference everything from Harriet Tubman to Black Olympians and astronauts, and from inventions by Black Americans to horrifically racist scientific beliefs of the past. Don’t call it a libretto, she says; it’s a paean, a song of praise …. That harmonic tension—between words of absolute love for the rich inner life and accomplishments of Black Americans, and the pain and sadness inflicted on them for four centuries—is what [composer Michael] Abels tried to honor.

Tim Greiving, “Four centuries of Black American history are told in new Kronos Quartet performance,” NPR, November 17, 2021

A very different sort of uneasy calm hovers over Puts’s Silent Night, which received a Pulitzer Prize in 2012. After brief paeans to the “glory of the battle” that marks the beginning of the war, the opera picks out the threads of its multiple storylines. A pregnant French woman rebukes her husband for enlisting. A Scottish soldier persuades his brother—fatefully, as it turns out—to join him. Two lovers, both of them opera singers, are separated after singing in Germany.

Steven Winn, "Two Gripping Operas Go Deep Into the Horrors of War in the 20th Century," San Francisco Classical Voice, December 5, 2021
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