Word of the Day

Monday, April 16, 2018

ken

[ ken ]

noun

knowledge, understanding, or cognizance; mental perception: an idea beyond one's ken.

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What is the origin of ken?

English ken comes from the very widespread Proto-Indo-European root gnō- (and its variants gnē-, gen-, and gṇ-) “to know.” The variant gnō- appears in Greek gignṓskein (and dialect gnṓskein), Latin gnōscere, nōscere, and Slavic (Polish) znać “to know.” The variant gnē- forms cnāwan in Old English (and know in English); the variant gṇǝ- (with suffixed schwa) yields cunnan “to know, know how to, be able” in Old English (and can “be able” in English). Ken is recorded in English before 900.

how is ken used?

Books, Mr. Taylor thought, should swim into one’s ken mysteriously; they should appear all printed and bound, without apparent genesis; just as children are suddenly told that they have a little sister, found by mamma in the garden.

Arthur Machen, The Hill of Dreams, 1907

Little things, trifles, slip out of one’s ken, and one does not think it matter for surprise; but how so bulky a thing as the Seal of England can vanish away and no man be able to get track of it again–a massy golden disk …

Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper, 1881
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Sunday, April 15, 2018

pantofle

[ pan-tuh-fuh l, pan-tof-uh l, -toh-fuh l, -too- ]

noun

a slipper.

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What is the origin of pantofle?

Pantofle “indoor shoe, slipper” comes from Middle French pantoufle, pantophle (and other spellings). The word occurs in other Romance languages, e.g., Occitan and Italian have pantofla (and other spellings), and Spanish has pantufla. Catalan changed the position of the l in original pantofla to plantofa under the influence of planta “sole (of the foot)”; compare English plantar (wart). Further etymology of pantofle is speculative. Pantofle entered English in the late 15th century.

how is pantofle used?

“I’ve lost a pantofle!” he whispered desperately.

Sally Watson, The Outrageous Oriel, 2006

… your art / Can blind a jealous husband, and, disguised / Like a milliner or shoemaker, convey / A letter in a pantofle or glove, / Without suspicion, nay at his table …

Philip Massinger, The Emperor of the East, 1632
Saturday, April 14, 2018

carking

[ kahr-king ]

adjective

Archaic. distressful.

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What is the origin of carking?

Carking derives from Norman French carquier “to load, burden,” from Late Latin carcāre, carricāre “to load.” In Old French, i.e., Parisian French, the dialect spoken in the île de France (the region of France that includes Paris), Late Latin carcāre becomes chargier (which becomes charge in English). Norman French does not palatalize c (representing the sound k) before a, which Old French does; thus in English we have the doublets cattle (from Norman French) and chattel from Parisian French. Late Latin carcāre becomes cargar “to load” in Spanish, the source of English cargo. Carking entered English in the early 14th century.

how is carking used?

Laranger’s answering smile showed no trace of the carking anxiety and deadly uncertainty which filled him at the thought of the future.

Joseph B. Ames, "The Secret of Spirit Lake," Boys' Life, September 1927

If we get our victuals daily we can lift our voices gaily / In a song that chants farewell to carking care.

Anonymous, "Cheer Up," The Rotarian, June 1920

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