Word of the Day

Saturday, March 31, 2018

kosher

[ koh-sher ]

adjective

Informal. a. proper; legitimate. b. genuine; authentic.

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What is the origin of kosher?

Kosher is one of the most common words of Yiddish origin in American English. Yiddish kosher comes from Hebrew kosher (Ashkenazi pronunciation), from Hebrew kāshēr “right, fit, proper.” Kosher as an adjective “pertaining to foods prepared according to Jewish dietary law” dates from the mid-19th century; the sense “proper, legitimate” dates from the late 19th century. Kosher as a noun “kosher food, kosher store” dates from the late 19th century.

how is kosher used?

This is kosher. I’m an officer of the court requesting assistance from a citizen.

Loren D. Estleman, King of the Corner, 1992

Forsyth knew that was all a cover story. He knew the whole setup wasn’t kosher.

Michael Savage, Abuse of Power, 2011
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Friday, March 30, 2018

sepulcher

[ sep-uh l-ker ]

noun

a tomb, grave, or burial place.

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What is the origin of sepulcher?

Sepulcher comes via French from Latin sepulcrum “grave, tomb,” a derivative of the verb sepelīre “to perform the funeral rites, bury, inter.” The Latin verb comes from the Proto-Indo-European root sep- “to honor,” extended to sep-el- “sorrow, care, awe.” The same root appears in Sanskrit sapati “(he) worships, tends.” The Greek derivative of sep- is the root hep-, which usually occurs in compound verbs, e.g., amphiépein “to look after, tend to,” as in the last line of the Iliad, “Thus they tended to (amphíepon) the funeral of horse-taming Hector.” Sepulcher entered English in the 13th century.

how is sepulcher used?

The stale suffocating room felt like a sepulcher

Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings, 2014

A clattering-rattling sound. A bony sound. Like the skeletons of long-dead men clawing their way out of a sepulcher.

Dean Koontz, Phantoms, 1983
Thursday, March 29, 2018

gadzookery

[ gad-zoo-kuh-ree ]

noun

British. the use or overuse of period-specific or archaic expressions, as in a historical novel.

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What is the origin of gadzookery?

Gadzookery was first recorded in 1950–1955.

how is gadzookery used?

The language is convincing, and free of the gadzookery of Elizabethan pastiche.

Charles Nicholl, "Exiting the Stage," New York Times, January 25, 2013

Several other stories and verses that they jointly contributed to magazines are historical and melodramatic in tone, larded with archaic oaths and exclamations and general gadzookery.

Julia Briggs, A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit, 1987
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

timeserver

[ tahym-sur-ver ]

noun

a person who shapes his or her conduct to conform to the opinions of the time or of persons in power, especially for selfish ends.

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What is the origin of timeserver?

Timeserver was first recorded in 1565–75.

how is timeserver used?

He was labeled unreliable. He could even be thought a double-dealer or timeserver.

Eitaro Ishizawa, "Too Much About Too Many," Ellery Queen's Japanese Golden Dozen, 1978

“I couldn’t marry Belinda to a time-server or a palace-worshipper,” said the King decidedly.

Edith Nesbit, The Magic World, 1912
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

kismet

[ kiz-mit, -met, kis- ]

noun

fate; destiny.

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What is the origin of kismet?

The English noun kismet “fate” comes straight from Turkish kismet, which in turn comes from Persian qismat, from Arabic qisma, qismat- “lot,” from qasama “(he) divided,” from the (West) Semitic root qsm- “to divide, allot.” Long before the arrival of Islam, Persian was used as an imperial administrative and literary language, contributing to the vocabulary of neighboring languages, especially the Turkic languages of Anatolia, central Asia, and some Indo-Aryan languages of the Indian subcontinent, especially Urdu. These languages received terms relating to Islam indirectly via Persian rather than directly from Arabic. Kismet entered English in the 19th century.

how is kismet used?

In the way that a randomly shuffled song on your headphones can feel like thrilling kismet, suddenly, this semi-animate speaker seemed to belong in my home.

Sarah Larson, "Yelling at Amazon's Alexa," The New Yorker, October 6, 2016

It was kismet that it happened with you, and today!

Orhan Pamuk, The Black Book, translated by Güneli Gün, 1994
Monday, March 26, 2018

genethliac

[ juh-neth-lee-ak ]

adjective

Astrology. of or relating to birthdays or to the position of the stars at one's birth.

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What is the origin of genethliac?

If any word occurs exclusively in grad school seminars, papers, theses, and dissertations, genethliac is that word. The Latin adjective and noun genethliacus “pertaining to one’s hour of birth or a birthday; an astrologer who calculates such an hour or day,” is an extension of the Greek adjective genethliakós “pertaining to a birthday.” Latin also possesses a noun genethliacon “birthday poem,” derived from but not existing in Greek. Birthdays and birthday celebrations were bigger affairs among Roman men than among the Greeks because one’s birthday also involved the cult of the genius, the attendant spirit or “guardian angel,” so to speak, of every freeborn male but especially of the paterfamilias. Latin genethliaca “birthday poems” arose as a distinct genre in the first century b.c. Genethliac entered English in the 16th century.

how is genethliac used?

… the mathematicians allow the very same horoscope to princes and to sots: whereof a right pregnant instance by them is given in the nativities of Æneas and Choræbus; the latter of which two is by Euphorion said to have been a fool; and yet had, with the former, the same aspects and heavenly genethliac influences.

François Rabelais, The Third Book of Pantagruel, translated by John Ozell, 1738

… Augustine particularly insists on the case of twins, whose fates ought to be identical, if the genethliac theory were true …

Sir George Cornewall Lewis, An Historical Survey of the Astronomy of the Ancients, 1862
Sunday, March 25, 2018

ariose

[ ar-ee-ohs, ar-ee-ohs ]

adjective

characterized by melody; songlike.

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What is the origin of ariose?

Ariose was first recorded in 1735–45. It is an Anglicized variant of Italian arioso.

how is ariose used?

He turned and looked at her, concern for her making his ariose voice a bit rougher than usual …

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, A Feast in Exile, 2001

… he loosed the ariose floods of his voice, till a gusty song of the spring-time seemed to fill the garden.

James Maurice Thompson, "The Mill of God," Scott's Monthly Magazine, July 1869

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