Word of the Day

Thursday, March 28, 2019

knackered

[ nak-erd ]

adjective

British Slang.

exhausted; very tired: He is really knackered after work.

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What is the origin of knackered?

The verb knacker originally meant “to tire, kill, castrate,” a verb derived either from the noun knacker “a tradesman who buys animal carcasses or slaughters useless livestock” or from the plural noun knackers, a slang word for “testicles, courage.” Knackered in the sense “exhausted” entered English in 19th century.

how is knackered used?

She was completely knackered. All she wanted was a shower and twelve hours of sleep.

Elizabeth George, Playing for the Ashes, 1994

When they’re knackered like that they start crying.

Patrick O'Keeffe, The Visitors, 2014
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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

impedimenta

[ im-ped-uh-men-tuh ]

plural noun

baggage or other things that retard one's progress, as supplies carried by an army: the impedimenta of the weekend skier.

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What is the origin of impedimenta?

Scores of millions of Americans will smile (or moan) at the recollection of reading (with the assistance of a pony or trot) Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War in their sophomore year high school Latin class, and seeing their old friend (or nemesis) impedīmenta “baggage train, traveling equipment” loaded with ablatives absolute and subjunctives in indirect discourse. Impedīmenta is a neuter plural noun formed from the verb impedīre “to restrict, hobble, impede” and –mentum, a neuter noun suffix for concrete objects. Impedīre is a compound of the preposition and prefix in, in– “in, into” and ped-, the inflectional stem of the noun pēs “foot”; impedīmenta therefore being the things that get caught in your feet, weigh you down. Impedimenta entered English at the end of the 16th century.

how is impedimenta used?

Games impedimenta–hockey sticks, boxing gloves, a burst football, a pair of sweaty shorts turned inside out–lay all over the floor …

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 1949

Every man was piled up with impedimenta–broken, torn, soiled and cobbled impedimenta.

Arnold Bennett, Over There, 1915
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

skimble-scamble

[ skim-buhl-skam-buhl; skim-uhl-skam-uhl ]

adjective

rambling; confused; nonsensical: a skimble-scamble explanation.

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What is the origin of skimble-scamble?

The rare adjective skimble-scamble shows the same, common vowel alteration in a reduplicated word as in mish-mash or pitter-patter. The reduplicated word is the verb scamble, of unknown etymology, and now obsolete or dialectal, meaning “to struggle or scramble with others for food or money tossed to a crowd,” now replaced by scramble. The lexicographer Samuel Johnson was not keen on skimble-scamble, calling it a “cant word,” one of his favorite terms of abuse. Skimble-scamble entered English at the end of the 16th century.

how is skimble-scamble used?

He complained bitterly of his reporters, saying that the skimblescamble stuff which they published would “make posterity think ill of his understanding, and that of his brethren on the bench.”

John Campbell, The Lives of the Chief Justices of England,  Vol. III, 1873

And such a deal of skimble-skamble stuff, /
As puts me from my faith.

William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, 1623

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