Word of the Day

Monday, August 24, 2020

juberous

[ joo-ber-uhs ]

adjective

uncertain and reluctant; dubious; undecided: I was feeling mighty juberous about crossing that bridge.

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What is the origin of juberous?

The adjective juberous “uncertain, hesitant, reluctant” is supposedly a regionalism of the American Midwest—Indiana, in particular. Juberous is most likely a humorous alteration of dubious. It first occurs in The Hoosier School-Master (1871) by the American author and Methodist clergyman Edward Eggleston.

how is juberous used?

Tell you the truth, I been juberous about that loan proposition ever since Thad put his name to it.

Wendell Berry, "Pray Without Ceasing," The Southern Review, Autumn 1992

I’m kind of juberous about letting you go at it; but maybe, if your sister looked after you, you could do a good job.

Raymond Knister, White Narcissus, 1929

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Sunday, August 23, 2020

inanition

[ in-uh-nish-uhn ]

noun

lack of vigor; lethargy.

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What is the origin of inanition?

Inanition, “exhaustion from lack of food, starvation; lethargy,” comes from Middle English inanicioun, inanisioun, which has a somewhat different meaning, “pathological emptiness of blood, humors, and fluids.” Inanicioun in turn comes from Late Latin inānitiō (stem inānitiōn-) “emptiness,” ultimately a derivative of the adjective inānis “empty, void, hungry.” In medical usage, Late Latin inānitiō and Middle English inanicioun are frequently combined (or contrasted) with replētiō (Latin) and Middle English replecioun, repleccioun, replesioun, “overindulgence in food or drink, satiety; fullness or a pathological fullness of blood and humors.” Inanition entered English at the end of the 14th century.

how is inanition used?

Sparky is never going to amount to anything. He hasn’t been practicing, and now, rather than face the consequences of his inanition, he is going to cheat.

Errol Morris, "The Pianist and the Lobster," New York Times, June 21, 2019

There are a pair of weeping willows in the churchyard, very often rapturously astream in the wind, but which, on a hot, calm day, hang there for a moment in a gust of sudden awful inanition, like the stillness between two beats of one’s heart.

J. R. Salamanca, Southern Light, 1986

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Saturday, August 22, 2020

epizeuxis

[ ep-i-zook-sis ]

noun

a literary or rhetorical device that appeals to or invokes the reader’s or listener’s emotions through the repetition of words in quick succession.

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What is the origin of epizeuxis?

Epizeuxis is a Late Latin noun occurring for the first and only time in the damaged Ars Grammatica “Art of Grammar” by the grammarian Flavius Sosipater Charisius—his name alone is worth repeating—whose work is valuable only because it preserves extracts from earlier grammarians. Late Latin epizeuxis comes straight from Greek epízeuxis, a noun that is used only in technical subjects such as botany and rhetoric, and as a rhetorical term is quite rare, occurring only twice in two Greek grammarians. Epízeuxis is a compound made up of the preposition and prefix epí, epi- “on, upon, over” and the noun zeûxis “yoking (of oxen), joining.” Zeûxis is formed from the verb zeugnýnai “to yoke”; its related noun zygón is from the same Proto-Indo-European source as Latin jugum, Germanic (English) yoke, Hittite yugan, Sanskrit yugám (“yoke, pair”; a related form yields Sanskrit yoga- “union,” English yoga). The final element, -sis, is a Greek suffix forming action nouns from verbs. The form -sis is the Attic Greek form of earlier -tis, preserved in some of the more conservative Doric dialects. The suffix -tis is related to the Latin suffix -tis, as in vestis “clothing” (compare vestment), from the verb vestīre “to dress, clothe,” and hostis “stranger, enemy” (yielding English hostile). Epizeuxis entered English in the late 16th century.

how is epizeuxis used?

You might know epizeuxis best from Hamlet: When Polonius asks the prince what he is reading, Hamlet replies, “Words, words, words.”

Russell Smith, "A deep literary take on Psy's Gentleman," The Globe and Mail, April 17, 2013

When we see epizeuxis, we hear the voice of any great leader or powerful person. When we see amplification, we hear a voice full of emotion. When we see anastrophe, we think, of course, of Yoda.

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Friday, August 21, 2020

sobriquet

[ soh-bruh-key, -ket, soh-bruh-key, -ket; French saw-bree-ke ]

noun

a nickname.

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What is the origin of sobriquet?

Sobriquet (also spelled soubriquet), “a nickname,” has an uncertain origin. Most likely it comes from French sobriquet “nickname,” from Middle French soubriquet, also soubzbriquet “a jest or quip”; also “a chuck under the chin, a gentle tap under the chin.” The only recognizable part of soubzbriquet is soubz, sous, from Latin sub “under.” It is possible that the second element is Middle French briquet, also brichet, bruchet, “breast of an animal, cut of meat,” English brisket. Sobriquet entered English in the first half of the 17th century.

how is sobriquet used?

And never mind the “Greedy McCreadie” sobriquet bestowed on him by former colleagues and workers who testify, with full mockumentary gravitas, to his lack of character.

Ella Taylor, "'Greed': A Scabrous Satire Of A Megalomaniacal Mogul," NPR, February 27, 2020

As with most memorable nicknames, there’s a story behind it: Hya was the sobriquet that stuck after my siblings and I tested out various permutations of Hyderabad, the city she lived in, and a place I thought of as home.

Sarah Khan, "Return to Hyderabad," New York Times, April 21, 2020

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

comity

[ kom-i-tee ]

noun

mutual courtesy; civility.

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What is the origin of comity?

Comity comes from Latin comitās (stem comitāt-) “friendliness, consideration, graciousness,” a derivative of the adjective cōmis “kind, obliging.” Cōmis perhaps comes from earlier cosmis, which occurs only once, in an inscription. If so, the syllable –smi– comes from the Proto-Indo-European root (s)mei-, (s)mei-, (s)mi– “to laugh, smile, wonder at,” which supplies Greek philommeidḗs (from philo-smeides) “laughter-loving,” a Homeric epithet of Aphrodite. (S)mei– yields Latin mīrus ”extraordinary, remarkable (usually in the good sense),” the verb mīrārī “to be surprised, amazed; look in awe or wonder at” (the source of Spanish mirar “to look at”). Also, in German komisch means “comic” and colloquially “strange, funny.” (S)mei– appears in the Germanic languages as smīlan, English smile. Comity entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is comity used?

the funeral underscored how Mr. Lewis believed that his decades-long civil rights fight could be waged in a spirit of comity—and with a belief that the American project was not fatally flawed, but perfectible in the hands of a citizenry willing to go to the polls and engage in nonviolent protest.

Richard Fausset and Rick Rojas, "John Lewis, a Man of 'Unbreakable Perseverance,' Is Laid to Rest," New York Times, July 30, 2020

I believe I had no money to buy them, but there was an open account, or a comity, between the printer and the bookseller, and I must have been allowed a certain discretion in regard to getting books.

William Dean Howells, "Shakespeare," My Literary Passions, 1895

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

zhuzh

[ zhoozh ]

verb

to make (something) more lively and interesting, stylish, or appealing, as by a small change or addition (usually followed by up): These colorful throw pillows are an easy way to zhuzh up your living room.

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What is the origin of zhuzh?

Zhuzh (also spelled zhoosh) as a verb means “to make (something) more lively, interesting, and stylish.” It is a fairly recent slang term, first appearing in the mid-1960s in gay communities in the U.K. in the sense “to improve the look of one’s clothing or outfit”; its current, more general sense dates from the mid-70s. The source of zhuzh, as with most slang terms, is problematic: zhuzh may be purely onomatopoeic, representing the sound of someone rushing around; it may be from Polari, a kind of British slang derived largely from Italian and used since the 18th century among theatrical and circus performers and in some gay and lesbian communities; finally, zhuzh may be from Romani zhouzhou “clean, neat.”

how is zhuzh used?

But don’t just throw some cooked rice into the bottom of a bowl! You’ve got to zhuzh it up before you pile on everything else so that every element is packed with flavor.

Kari Sonde, "Start your grain bowl right with these 5 jazzy rice recipes," Washington Post, August 1, 2019

First up was hairdressing icon Jonathan Van Ness, who wanted to keep the spirit of Gritty — but just zhuzh it up a bit.

James Dator, "Everything about Gritty getting a makeover on Queer Eye is good," SBNation.com, July 1, 2020

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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

hortatory

[ hawr-tuh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee ]

adjective

urging to some course of conduct or action; exhorting; encouraging: a hortatory speech.

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What is the origin of hortatory?

Hortatory comes from Late Latin hortātōrius “encouraging, cheering,” an adjective that first appears in St. Augustine’s Confessions (a.d. 397–400). Hortātōrius ultimately derives from the verb horī “to urge,” from a Proto-Indo-European root gher-, ghor-, ghṛ– “to like, take pleasure.” From the variant gher-, Oscan, an extinct Italic language related to Latin, has Herentateís súm (“I am of the goddess Venus,” i.e., “I am a dedication to Venus”). Gher– yields Sanskrit háryati “(he) takes pleasure”; ghṛ– yields Greek chaírein “to rejoice” and cháris “grace, favor.” Hortatory entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is hortatory used?

He admired the man’s passion and fighting spirit, his wit, his hortatory style, his good looks and fine speech.

Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game, translated by Richard and Clara Winston, 1969

Other summits serve a similar hortatory function: leading by example and pressuring others to do more.

Jessica F. Green, "The U.N. Climate Summit starts today. Here's what it can—and can't—achieve." Washington Post, September 23, 2019

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