Word of the Day

Thursday, May 14, 2020

insufflate

[ in-suhf-leyt, in-suh-fleyt ]

verb (used with object)

to blow or breathe (something) in.

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What is the origin of insufflate?

There is not an obvious connection between insufflate and soufflé, but it exists. Insufflate comes from Late Latin insufflātus, the past participle of the verb insufflāre “to blow into or upon,” first recorded in Christian Latin authors. Insufflāre is a compound of the common preposition and suffix in, in- “in, into, on, upon” and sufflāre “to blow up from below, blow up,” itself a compound of sub, sub- “below, from below” and the simple verb flāre “to blow, breathe.” Soufflé in French means “puffed up”; it is the past participle of the verb souffler, the regular French development of Latin sufflāre. Insufflate entered English in the 17th century.

how is insufflate used?

They handed a trumpet to the old man, who put it to the lips of the two creatures still suspended in their vegetable lethargy, their sweet animal sleep, and he began to insufflate soul into their bodies.

Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum, translated by William Weaver, 1989

If the EU were to give Britain a good deal, it would inspire other countries to leave and might insufflate new life into populist parties that are already gaining more and more support throughout Europe.

Barbara Tasch, "There must be a threat, a risk, a price," Business Insider, October 7, 2016

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

blarney

[ blahr-nee ]

noun

deceptive or misleading talk; nonsense; hooey: a lot of blarney about why he was broke.

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What is the origin of blarney?

Blarney is named after the Blarney stone, a stone set high up on the outside of the parapet of Blarney Castle, and accessible to a kisser who desires eloquence only if he or she leans backward over the parapet to kiss the stone. There are several stories of the origin of the legend about the stone. One of them involves the goddess Cliodhna, queen of the banshees, to whom Cormac Laidir McCarthy, who built Blarney Castle and became involved in a lawsuit, appealed for assistance. Cliodhna told McCarthy to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court. McCarthy did as the goddess told him, pleaded his case with great eloquence, and won. Blarney Castle is in the town of Blarney, about five miles northwest of Cork, in southwest Ireland. The name Blarney in Gaelic is (an) Bhlarna “(the) little field,” from blair, blar “field.” Blarney entered English in the 18th century.

how is blarney used?

I am a lawyer and would therefore never mislead you: Blarney is not exactly lies, but it’s not exactly the full truth either.

John F. X. Irving, "Blarney—A Political Definition," New York Times, March 13, 1977

Perfect love, I suppose, means that a married man and woman never contradict one another, and that they both of them always feel the same thing at the same moment … What blarney!

D. H. Lawrence, Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays, 1925

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

cleek

[ kleek ]

verb (used with object)

to grasp or seize (something) suddenly and eagerly; snatch.

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What is the origin of cleek?

The Scots verb cleek (past tense claucht or claught) “to grasp or seize” comes from Middle English (Northern and Scots) cleke, cleken, a more conservative form than Southern English clechen “to grab, capture.” Both cleke, cleken and clechen come from Old English clyccan “to bend one’s fingers, clench,” the source of Modern English clutch. The Scots noun cleek means “(large) hook (as for hanging a pot over a fire)”; a second sense, from the shape of a cleek, is “arm” (the body part); a third sense, from the second one, “a golf club with an iron head, a narrow face, and little slope, used for shots from a poor lie on the fairway.” The verb cleek entered English in the late 14th century, the noun in the early 15th.

how is cleek used?

Aw’ve sin the’ time when thi’d’n ha’bin cleeked up like lumps o’ gowd.

Edwin Waugh, Sketches of Lancashire Life and Localities, 1855

Archie was just about to cleek him, when he made one terrible rush up water, taking out nearly all my line.

Samuel Abbott, Ardenmohr, 1876

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