Word of the Day

Saturday, May 18, 2019

jockey

[ jok-ee ]

verb (used with object)

to manipulate cleverly or trickily: He jockeyed himself into office.

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What is the origin of jockey?

The verb jockey in its extended sense “to manipulate cleverly or trickily” comes from a noun sense “crafty bargainer, cheater,” from a still earlier sense “horse trader, horse dealer” (as if horse traders were untrustworthy). Jockey in its noun sense “a professional rider in horse races” entered English in the late 17th century.

how is jockey used?

The doctor watched him with interest, wondering … whether Tom Craik, to use his own words, would jockey the undertaker, as he had jockeyed many another adversary in his stirring existence.

F. Marion Crawford, The Three Fates, 1892

Even before the results were released, there was discussion in some quarters over whether to request a recount as small right-wing factions jockeyed to get into the parliament, called the Knesset.

Loveday Morris, "Netanyahu extends lead slightly in final election count," Washington Post, April 11, 2019
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Friday, May 17, 2019

alameda

[ al-uh-mey-duh ]

noun

a public walk shaded with trees.

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What is the origin of alameda?

It is hard to imagine a lovelier-sounding word than alameda. It is not a word in general American usage, but a regionalism in the American Southwest, a common noun meaning “a tree-shaded public walk.” Alameda comes directly from Spanish alameda “poplar grove,” formed from the noun álamo “poplar” (a noun of unknown etymology) and the noun suffix –eda, which regularly derives from the Latin noun suffix –ētum, denoting a place where plants are grown, e.g., arborētum “a place where trees are grown.” The placename and proper noun Alameda, a city in California east of San Francisco across the San Francisco Bay, was so named not by Spaniards or Mexicans, but by American settlers in a popular vote in 1853. Alameda entered English in the 18th century.

how is alameda used?

The ascent to it is by an alameda or public walk, which was formerly beautifully planted, but the trees were cut down during the revolutionary contest.

Josiah Conder, The Modern Traveller: Colombia, 1825

At the foot of the hill is an alameda, or public walk, which, though not so fashionable as the more modern and splendid paseo of the Xenil, still boasts a varied and picturesque concourse.

Washington Irving, The Alhambra, 1832
Thursday, May 16, 2019

whataboutism

[ hwuht-uh-bou-tiz-uhm, wuht‐, hwot‐, wot‐ ]

noun

a conversational tactic in which a person responds to an argument or attack by changing the subject to focus on someone else’s misconduct, implying that all criticism is invalid because no one is completely blameless: Excusing your mistakes with whataboutism is not the same as defending your record.

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What is the origin of whataboutism?

Whataboutism is a transparent formation of the phrase “What about…?” used to form objections in an argument, and the noun suffix –ism. Whataboutism entered English in the second half of the 20th century.

how is whataboutism used?

Whataboutism appears to broaden context, to offer a counterpoint, when really it’s diverting blame, muddying the waters and confusing … rational listeners.

Dan Zak, "Whataboutism: The Cold War tactic, thawed by Putin, is brandished by Donald Trump," Washington Post, August 18, 2017

The best response to whataboutism has historically been to say that while, yes, other countries have their faults, injustice should not be tolerated anywhere.

Olga Khazan, "The Soviet-Era Strategy That Explains What Russia Is Doing With Snowden," The Atlantic, August 2, 2013

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