Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, August 30, 2020

kindred

[ kin-drid ]

adjective

having the same belief, attitude, or feeling.

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What is the origin of kindred?

Kindred as a noun means “one’s relatives, kinfolk”; as an adjective, “sharing beliefs, attitudes, or feelings.” Kindred comes from Middle English kinrede, which has many, many spelling variants. Kinrede is a compound of kin and the obsolete suffix –red, –rede, which forms nouns from other nouns. Kin comes from the Old English noun cynn “sort, kind,” from the Proto-Indo-European root gen-, gon– (with many variants) “to beget, give birth.” Cynn is related to Latin genus (plural genera) “birth, descent, origin, kind” (genus and genera are current in English), Greek génesis “origin” (English genesis comes from Greek via the Latin Bible). The Middle English suffix –red, –rede comes from Old English –rǣden, a noun and suffix meaning “condition” (hatred is the only other frequent noun in English with the suffix –red). The spelling kindred with internal d first appears about 1400 and has two possible origins: It may either be epenthetic, intrusive, a glide consonant between the n and r, or the d may be from the influence of the noun kind “nature, type, class.” Kindred entered English in the early 13th century.

how is kindred used?

Garth’s look feels rummaged out of a costume trunk—bedraggled blond wig, Buddy Holly glasses, mom jeans—but Carvey plays him with such feline sensitivity that l have always recognized him as a kindred spirit.

Amanda Hess, "'Wayne's World' & Me," New York Times, July 2, 2020

“I think he’s lovely,” said Anne reproachfully. “He is so very sympathetic. He didn’t mind how much I talked—he seemed to like it. I felt that he was a kindred spirit as soon as ever I saw him.”

Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, 1908

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Word of the day

Saturday, August 29, 2020

metrophobia

[ me-truh-foh-bee-uh ]

noun

an irrational or disproportionate fear of poetry: Being forced to read John Donne's sonnets aloud in front of my English class gave me such bad metrophobia that I can't even look at greeting card poetry without getting sweaty palms and a dry mouth.

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What is the origin of metrophobia?

You may think that metrophobia means “fear of big cities” based on the word metropolis. In fact, metrophobia means “fear of poetry,” a compound of Greek métron (inflectional stem metr-) “measure, length, size, meter (of music or poetry)” and –phobia. Metrophobia entered English in the late 20th century.

how is metrophobia used?

“Gross in summer. Cold in winter. Jack-o-lanterns in fall. Bees in spring.” / “That’s like a poem,” she says. / I shiver. I think I might possibly have metrophobia.

Paul Mosier, Summer and July, 2020

This emphasis on the performance of poetry and using whatever medium might suit is surely also a step in the right direction in the fight to cure metrophobia and pull readers back in to the poetry itself.

Shona M. Allan, "The Pull of the Poetry: Juan, Juxtapositions and Alluring Alliteration," Byron's Poetry, 2012

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Word of the day

Friday, August 28, 2020

schmaltz

[ shmahlts, shmawlts ]

noun

exaggerated sentimentalism, as in music or soap operas.

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What is the origin of schmaltz?

Schmaltz comes from Yiddish shmalts and German Schmaltz, with two meanings: “liquid animal fat, especially chicken fat,” and by extension “exaggerated sentimentalism.” (The adjective schmaltzy, however, means only “exaggeratedly sentimental.”) Before Americans became concerned about their diets, one could go to a Jewish restaurant and find on the table a bottle or cruet filled with schmaltz to make sure diners maintained a proper level of cholesterol in their blood. Schmaltz in its dietary sense entered English at the end of the 18th century; in its critical sense, in the mid-1930s.

how is schmaltz used?

At first it sounded like normal holiday schmaltz: the softest of soft-rock pianos, punched up with a twist of synth. This was joined by the softest of soft-rock voices, which intoned the immortal lyric: “Met my old lover in the grocery store.”

Sam Anderson, "Letter of Recommendation: Dan Fogelberg, 'Same Old Lang Syne,'" New York Times, December 14, 2016

It was a blatant ploy to serve fans … but it’s also a comic-book movie. I say, bring on the schmaltz!

Angela Watercutter, "A Spoiler-Packed Review of Avengers: Endgame's Highlights," Wired, April 27, 2019

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