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[ kou-moh-jee ] [ kaʊˈmoʊ dʒi ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a Japanese-style emoticon that uses Japanese characters, Latin letters, and punctuation marks in combination to represent a facial expression that conveys an emotion.

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More about kaomoji

Kaomoji “a Japanese-style emoticon” is a loanword from Japanese that is a compound of kao “face” and moji “(written) character.” Moji is an example of Sino-Xenic vocabulary, which refers to the hundreds of words that originated in Middle Chinese (compare Sino-) and were exported to foreign languages (compare xeno-) such as Japanese, as we can also see in the recent Words of the Day matcha, waka, and keiretsu. The moji element in kaomoji (as well as emoji) is therefore related to Mandarin wénzì and Cantonese manzi “writing, language.” A common misconception is that emoji and emoticon are related, but the resemblance is a coincidence; emoji is a compound of Japanese e “picture” and moji, while emoticon is a portmanteau of emotion and icon. Kaomoji was first recorded in English in the late 1980s.

how is kaomoji used?

Of course, emoji weren’t the first attempt to add an emotional layer. Before emoji there were kaomoji–those looked kinda like this: ╮( ̄~ ̄)╭, (o_O), and (=`ω´  =). And before that there were emoticons :-). Both were created to add emotional context. Cute and creative, but those older forms require a lot of typing, which on phones means tapping, which in the 1990s meant pecking at numeral buttons.

Nick Stockton, “Emoji—Trendy Slang or a Whole New Language?” Wired, June 24, 2015

Unlike better-known emoticons like :) or ;), ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ borrows characters from the Japanese syllabary called katakana. That makes it a kaomoji, a Japanese emoticon; it also makes it, on Western alphabetical keyboards at least, very hard to type. But then I found a solution, and it saves me having to google “smiley sideways shrug” every time I want to quickly rail at the world’s inherent lack of meaning.

Robinson Meyer, “The Best Way to Type ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” The Atlantic, May 21, 2014
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[ trahy-nuh-ree ] [ ˈtraɪ nə ri ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


consisting of three parts, or proceeding by three; ternary.

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More about trinary

Trinary “consisting of three parts” is equivalent to Latin trīnī “by threes” plus the suffix -ārius “-ary,” on the pattern of binary. Trīnī is an example of a distributive number; while cardinal numbers such as three express amounts and ordinal numbers such as third express place in a series (and, in English, often fractions), distributive numbers such as triply express a quantity at one time. Other types of numbers include adverbial numbers such as thrice, which express a number of times, and multipliers such as triple, which express how many times something is multiplied. Trinary was first recorded in English in the mid-15th century.

how is trinary used?

New data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in northern Chile has probed the gas and dust in a young stellar system, GG Tauri-A some 460 light years away. Here a single star is orbiting some 35 astronomical units (AU) from a pair of stars that also orbit around each other at only 3 to 4 AU separation–it’s a hierarchical trinary star system.

Caleb A. Scharf, “Astrobiology Roundup: Planets, Moons, and Stinky Comets,” Scientific American, October 30, 2014

Because widening the avenues would have required a lengthy and costly expropriation process, the planners came up with a “trinary” system that embraced three parallel thoroughfares: a large central avenue dedicated to two-way rapid-bus traffic (flanked by slow lanes for cars making short local trips) and, a block over on each side, an avenue for fast one-way automobile traffic.

Arthur Lubow, “The Road to Curitiba,” New York Times, May 20, 2007
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[ hob-uhl-dee-hoi ] [ ˈhɒb əl diˌhɔɪ ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


an awkward, ungainly youth.

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More about hobbledehoy

Hobbledehoy “an awkward, ungainly youth,” a variant of hoberdyboy (among other spellings), is of unclear origin, and theories abound. The first part of hobbledehoy may stem from hob or hoberd, which are forms of Robert. The change from Robert to hob or hoberd is typical of rhyming in English name formation; just as Robert has the nickname Bob and is the source of surnames such as Dobbs and Hopkins, William has the nickname Bill and is the source of the surname Gilliam. Similar to the term hobgoblin, the hob element in hobbledehoy is a dialectal English term for “elf” that may be a variant of Robin (a diminutive of Robert), as in Robin Goodfellow, a folkloric fairy also known as Puck. Hobbledehoy was first recorded in English in the 1530s.

how is hobbledehoy used?

The jocose hobbledehoy whom Royce had noted on the occasion of his previous excursion sat upon a step of the long flight leading from the veranda to the lawn, surrounded by half a dozen little maidens, and, armed with a needle and a long thread, sewed industriously, rewarded by their shrieking exclamations of delight in his funniness every time he grotesquely drew out the needle with a great curve of his long arm, or facetiously but futilely undertook to bite the thread.

Charles Egbert Craddock, “The Juggler,” The Atlantic, July 1897

The true hobbledehoy is much alone, not being greatly given to social intercourse even with other hobbledehoys—a trait in his character which I think has hardly been sufficiently observed by the world at large. He has probably become a hobbledehoy instead of an Apollo, because circumstances have not afforded him much social intercourse; and, therefore, he wanders about in solitude.

Anthony Trollope, "The Small House at Allington," Cornhill Magazine, September 1862–April 1864
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