Word of the Day

Thursday, February 04, 2021

lachrymose

[ lak-ruh-mohs ]

adjective

suggestive of or tending to cause tears; mournful.

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What is the origin of lachrymose?

The spelling lachrymose, “suggestive of or causing tears,” is enough to make a person downright weepy. Lachrymose is a learned misspelling of Latin lacrimōsus “weeping, tearful, in tears,” a derivative of the noun lacrima “a tear, weeping, lament.” In preclassical Latin the form was dacrima, which is the original form, lacrima the innovation (as with original Odysseus, the innovative Ulixes, and the hybrid Ulysses). Old Latin dacrima is related to the Greek noun dákryon, the “everyday” word for tears, but it looks quite close to the rare, poetic Greek noun dákrȳma (with a long upsilon) “something to be wept over, a matter for tears” (uttered by the oracle of Delphi). The association of lacrima, dacrima, and dákrȳma was enough to allow medieval scribes to innovate the pseudo-Greek spelling lachrymōsus. Lachrymose entered English in the second half of the 17th century.

how is lachrymose used?

But otherwise this modernized remake of Miss Hurst’s frankly lachrymose tale is much the same as its soggy predecessor. It is the most shameless tear-jerker in a couple of years.

Bosley Crowther, "Sob Story Back: 'Imitation of Life' in Return to Roxy," New York Times, April 18, 1959

Letter to You is rich in lessons for those who want to know what successful aging looks like. Far from being sad or lachrymose, it’s both youthful—loud and hard-charging—and serene and wise.

David Brooks, "Bruce Springsteen and the Art of Aging Well," The Atlantic, October 23, 2020

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Wednesday, February 03, 2021

uitwaaien

[ out-vahyn ]

noun

the Dutch practice of jogging or walking into the wind, especially in the winter, for the purpose of feeling invigorated while relieving stress and boosting one’s general health.

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What is the origin of uitwaaien?

The Dutch compound word uitwaaien means “to jog or walk into the wind, especially in the winter, in order to feel invigorated, relieve stress, and boost one’s health” (others prefer sitting in cozy coffeehouses or quiet neighborhood bars). Uitwaaien is composed of the preposition and prefix uit “out” (its pronunciation is not much different from English out) and the verb waaien “to blow.” Waaien comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root as Sanskrit vā́ti “(it is) blowing,” Latin ventum “wind,” Germanic (English) “weather, wind,” and Slavic (Polish) wieje “(it is) blowing.” Uitwaaien entered English in the first decade of the 21st century.

how is uitwaaien used?

Uitwaaien is something you do to clear your mind and feel refreshed—out with the bad air, in with the good,” she tells me.

Caitlin Meyer, quoted in "The Simple Dutch Cure for Stress," by Alice Fleerackers, Nautilus, November 8, 2019

 Uitwaaien is a long-standing cultural tradition of integrating nature with daily life for the intentional purpose of mental clarity and the promotion of feelings of wellbeing.

Mary Breunig, "Slow nature-focused leisure in the days of COVID-19: repressive myths, social (in)justice, and hope," Annals of Leisure Research, published online December 28, 2020

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Tuesday, February 02, 2021

harbinger

[ hahr-bin-jer ]

noun

anything that foreshadows a future event; omen; sign.

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What is the origin of harbinger?

The modern spelling harbinger “an omen, sign, or herald,” has an internal –n– from the Middle English variant spellings herbengar, herbenger, which arose in the second half of the 15th century. This –n– also appears, for example, in messenger (from message) and passenger (from passage). The many Middle English spellings include herbeg(e)our, herberger, herbergio(u)er. The noun originally referred to an officer of a king or nobleman who assigned lodgings to guests or rode ahead to arrange lodgings, or to a military officer who laid out encampments, or to a soldier who was part of the vanguard. Harbinger later came to mean simply “host, hospitable person.” The Middle English forms come from Old French herbergeor, herberg(i)ere “one who offers lodging, host, innkeeper,” from Frankish heriberga “lodging, inn” (in Old Saxon and Old High German “shelter for an army”). The Old English equivalent, herebeorg “quarters, shelter, lodgings,” survives in English as harbor. Harbinger entered English in the second half of the 12th century.

how is harbinger used?

Last Groundhog Day, Phil did not see his shadow, a supposed harbinger of an early spring. Yet, bitter cold and snow affected the eastern U.S. deep into March.

Jason Samenow, "Groundhog Day 2014: Punxsutawney Phil sees shadow, 6 more weeks of winter," Washington Post, February 2, 2014

The collapse of MDC Energy’s business turned out to be a harbinger of things to come. The coronavirus pandemic has brought a wave of bankruptcies to the oil and gas industry—even as industry executives first reward themselves with multimillion-dollar bonuses.

Hiroko Tabuchi, "What oil and gas bankruptcies leave behind," New York Times, July 15, 2020

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