• Word of the day
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    Tuesday, December 18, 2018

    kaleidoscopic

    adjective [kuh-lahy-duh-skop-ik]
    continually shifting from one set of relations to another; rapidly changing: the kaleidoscopic events of the past year.
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    What is the origin of kaleidoscopic?

    Kaleidoscopic comes from Greek kalós “beautiful,” eîdos “shape,” and -scope, a combining form meaning “instrument for viewing.” The suffix -ic is used to form adjective from other parts of speech in Greek and Latin loanwords in English. Kaleidoscopic entered English in the 1840s.

    How is kaleidoscopic used?

    The natural progress of her life, however, is fragmented in Hong’s kaleidoscopic fusion of reality and fantasy. Richard Brody, "Idiosyncratic Romance at the New York Film Festival," The New Yorker, October 2, 2017

    Things had happened, in the last few hours, with a kaleidoscopic rapidity--the whirl of events had left her mind in a dazed condition. Margaret E. Sangster, The Island of Faith, 1921

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, December 17, 2018

    grinch

    noun [grinch]
    a person or thing that spoils or dampens the pleasure of others.
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    What is the origin of grinch?

    The Grinch was the misanthropic central character in the children’s book How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957) by “Dr. Seuss” (Theodor Seuss Geisel). The book was made into a TV special in 1966 and a feature film in 2000.

    How is grinch used?

    I'd prefer not to be a grinch, but it’s always been beyond me why people like to argue about literary prizes. Willing Davidson, "Pullet Surprise," The New Yorker, April 20, 2009

    Every family has a grinch: the person who wants to sleep in instead of opening presents, refuses to sing Christmas carols, or eats a Twix instead of plum pudding. Sally Holmes, "Anna Wintour Is the Grinch Who Stole the Christmas Tree," The Cut, December 26, 2013

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, December 16, 2018

    vivify

    verb [viv-uh-fahy]
    to enliven; brighten; sharpen.
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    What is the origin of vivify?

    The English verb vivify comes from Old French vivifier, from Late Latin vīvificāre “to make alive, restore to life, quicken.” Vīvificāre breaks down easily to vīvus “alive,” from vīv(ere) “to live,” from a very widespread Proto-Indo-European root with many variants: gwei-, gwī-, gwi-, gwiyō- “live” (gw- usually becomes v- in Latin). The Proto-Indo-European forms gwīwos and gwiwos “alive, life” become vīvus in Latin, bivus in Oscan (an Italic language spoken in southern Italy), bíos in Greek (from bíwos, from gwiwos). The Proto-Indo-European adjective gwigwos become kwikwaz in Germanic and ultimately English quick (in the archaic sense "alive," as in the phrase “the quick and the dead”). The suffix -fy comes from Middle English -fi(en), from Old French -fier, from Latin -ficāre, a combining form for verbs of doing or making, from the adjective suffix -ficus, from the verb facere “to do, make,” from the very complicated Proto-Indo-European root dhē-, dho- (and many other variants) “put, place,” the same source for English do. Vivify entered English in the 16th century.

    How is vivify used?

    ... he enlarged his sphere of action from the cold practice of law, into those vast social improvements which law, rightly regarded, should lead, and vivify, and create. Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Lucretia, 1846

    Faber vivifies the atmosphere and environment of the fictional planet, from its marked humidity to its insect life, with fascinating specificity. Nicole Lamy, "Books for Left-Brained Readers," New York Times, October 2, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, December 15, 2018

    supplicate

    verb [suhp-li-keyt]
    to pray humbly to; entreat or petition humbly.
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    What is the origin of supplicate?

    Supplicate comes directly from Latin supplicātus, past participle of the verb supplicāre “to sue for forgiveness or mercy, make a humble petition.” The Latin verb is a derivative of the adjective supplex (stem supplic-) “bringing peace, making humble petition.” Supplex and supplicāre come from the root plāk-, plak-, the source of Latin placēre “to please, be acceptable to” (source of English placebo “I shall please” and pleasant, via Old French), and plācāre “to conciliate, calm,” whose past participle plācātus is the source of English placate. Supplicate entered English in the 15th century.

    How is supplicate used?

    Alas! on my knees I supplicate you to forbear--Will you leave me a prey to Frederic? Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto, 1746

    I ask you but to extend to one whose fault was committed under strong temptation that mercy which even you yourself, Lord King, must one day supplicate at a higher tribunal, and for faults, perhaps, less venial. Sir Walter Scott, The Talisman, 1825

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, December 14, 2018

    luculent

    adjective [loo-kyoo-luhnt]
    convincing; cogent.
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    What is the origin of luculent?

    English luculent comes straight from the Latin adjective lūculentus, a derivative of lux (stem lūc-) “light,” from a very widespread Proto-Indo-European root leuk-, louk-, luk- “light, bright.” (The suffixed form leuktom becomes leuhtan in Germanic, lēoht in Old English, and light in English.) Latin lūculentus and English luculent are not much used in their literal senses but have a metaphorical sense like splendid and the colloquial British brilliant. Luculent entered English in the 15th century.

    How is luculent used?

    The thundering acclamations, which greeted the close of that luculent and powerful exposition, the zeal with which the concourse hailed him unanimously Savior of Rome and Father of his country ... Henry William Herbert, The Roman Traitor, 1846

    ... now he would favour us with a grace ... expatiating on this text with so luculent a commentary, that Scott, who had been fumbling with his spoon long before he reached his Amen, could not help exclaiming as he sat down, 'Well done, Mr. George!" John Gibson Lockhart, The Life of Sir Walter Scott, 1837–1838

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, December 13, 2018

    nummary

    adjective [nuhm-uh-ree]
    of or relating to coins or money.
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    What is the origin of nummary?

    The adjective nummary comes straight from Latin nummārius “pertaining to coins or money,” a derivative of nummus (also nūmus), the name of several silver or gold coins. The Latin nouns come from noûmmos “current coin” in a western Doric Greek dialect spoken in southern Italy and Sicily and equivalent to Greek nómos “law, custom, something in customary or habitual use.” Nummary entered English in the early 17th century.

    How is nummary used?

    ... Re-coinages, which had the same Effect in depreciating nummary Denominations in France, that frequent and large Emissions of Paper-Money have in our Colonies ... William Douglass, "A Discourse Concerning the Currencies of the British Plantations in America," 1740

    His capital does not have a numerical or nummary value, but it nonetheless has a value, if only in the sustenance he gets out of putting it to productive use. Manu Saadia, Trekonomics, 2016

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, December 12, 2018

    lardy-dardy

    adjective [lahr-dee-dahr-dee]
    Chiefly British Slang. characterized by excessive elegance.
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    What is the origin of lardy-dardy?

    Pity that one doesn’t see as many lardy-dardy types as formerly—affected swells, languid fops, chichi dandies lounging about music halls and theaters. Lardy-dardy entered English in the 1850s, at the height of the Victorian era. It is often said to be the British aristos’ non-rhotic (“r-less”) Received Pronunciation of la-di-da—a nice story except that lardy-dardy predates la-di-da by nearly 20 years.

    How is lardy-dardy used?

    "Good afternoon!" -- in rather lardy-dardy, middle-class English. "I wonder if I may see your things in your studio." D. H. Lawrence, The Captain's Doll, 1923

    It was exaggerated flattery he always felt provoked and disgusted with. Such absurd palaver, and lardy-dardy talk as that of his grand mover and seconder. F. A. J., "Greaswick for Coalheavers': or, The Alderman's Election" The Amateur's Magazine, 1859

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