Word of the Day

Friday, September 14, 2018

interregnum

[ in-ter-reg-nuhm ]

noun

any period during which a state has no ruler or only a temporary executive.

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What is the origin of interregnum?

Interregnum, a straightforward borrowing from Latin, applies far back in Roman history, to the period of kings (traditionally, 753 b.c.–509 b.c.). An interregnum was the period between the death of the old king and the accession of the new one. During the time of the Roman Republic (509 b.c.–27 b.c.), an interregnum was a period when both consuls or other patrician magistrates were dead or out of office. The Roman Senate then appointed from among themselves an interrex (or a series of interregēs) with consular powers for five-day terms whose principal duty was to supervise the election of new consuls. Interregnum entered English in the 16th century.

how is interregnum used?

But now, he has been on the job for two decades, save for a brief interregnum when he switched posts with his prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev.

Michael McFaul, "I've been in meetings with Putin. Here's what Trump can expect." Washington Post, July 15, 2018

During the two years of interregnum, during Dr. Aagaard’s administration and in the year of two following his resignation to accept a similar position at the University of Washington, all major clinical chairmanships fell vacant and new appointments had to be made.

John S. Chapman, "The Cinderella School of Medicine," The Alcalde, January 1962
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Thursday, September 13, 2018

exoteric

[ ek-suh-ter-ik ]

adjective

popular; simple; commonplace.

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What is the origin of exoteric?

Exoteric, the opposite of esoteric, comes from Latin exōtericus “popular (e.g., of books); not overly technical or abstruse,” a borrowing of Greek exōterikós “external, outside, popular.” The first element of the Greek word is the adverb éxō “out, out of, outside”; the last element, -ikós, is a typical adjective suffix. The middle element, -ter-, is usually called a comparative suffix, which is only one of its functions. The suffix -ter is also used in Latin and Greek to form natural or complementary pairs, e.g., Latin nōster “our” and vester “your,” and dexter “right (hand)” and sinister “left (hand).” The Latin adjectives correspond with Greek hēméteros “our” and hyméteros “your,” and dexiterós “right (hand)” and aristerós “left (hand).” Aristerós is a euphemism meaning “better (hand)” (áristos means “best” in Greek, as in aristocracy “rule of the best”). Exoteric entered English in the 17th century.

how is exoteric used?

I was on a holiday, and was engaged in that rich and intricate mass of pleasures, duties, and discoveries which for the keeping off of the profane, we disguise by the exoteric name of Nothing.

G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles, 1909

Practical or exoteric alchemy was concerned chiefly with attempts to prepare the philosopher’s stone, a hypothetical transmuting and healing agent capable of curing the imagined diseases of metals and the real ones of man.

John Read, "A grandiose philosophical system," New Scientist, February 21, 1957
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

reticulation

[ ri-tik-yuh-ley-shuhn ]

noun

a netlike formation, arrangement, or appearance; network.

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What is the origin of reticulation?

Reticulation Is a derivative of the adjective reticulate (and the noun suffix -ion), of Latin origin. Reticulate comes from Latin rēticulātus “covered with a net, having a netlike pattern,” a derivative of the noun rēticulum “small net, a network bag,” itself a derivative of rēte “net (for hunting, fishing, fowling).” Reticulation entered English in the 17th century.

how is reticulation used?

… Ralph Marvell, stretched on his back in the grass, lay gazing up at a black reticulation of branches between which bits of sky gleamed with the hardness and brilliancy of blue enamel.

Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country, 1913

Her appearance has changed as well, and I don’t mean just the intense reticulation of lines and wrinkles, the true stigmata of life.

Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman, 2013

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