Word of the Day

Word of the day

Sunday, September 13, 2020

lapidify

[ luh-pid-uh-fahy ]

verb (used with or without object)

Archaic.

to turn into stone.

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What is the origin of lapidify?

The relatively rare verb lapidify, “to turn into or become stone, petrify,” comes via French lapidifier from Medieval Latin lapidificāre. Lapidificāre is a transparent compound of Latin lapid– (the inflectional stem of lapis “stone”) and the Latin verb-forming suffix –ficāre, ultimately a derivative of facere “to make, do.” The resemblance between lapis and Greek lépas “bare rock” is “hardly accidental,” as the pros say: Both words probably come from a Mediterranean (non-Indo-European) language. Lapidify entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is lapidify used?

Perhaps in a few months a slow seepage, rich in minerals, would return to these passages and gradually glue their bodies to the rocks where they sat, to seal their crypt and lapidify their bones.

David Brin, Earth, 1990

The rule of the Abang, in an age when the techniques existed to lapidify any rule to permanency, was, because of the very rise of a party, doomed.

Anthony Burgess, The Enemy in the Blanket, 1958

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Word of the day

Saturday, September 12, 2020

threequel

[ three-kwuhl ]

noun

the third in a series of literary works, movies, etc.; a second sequel: The first two films in this underworld anthology were cinematic gems, but the threequel was at best a disappointment.

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What is the origin of threequel?

Threequel, “the third in a series of literary works, movies, etc.; a second sequel,” is a very recent neologism dating from around 1980. Threequel is an obvious compound of three and (se)quel. The term pops up in amusingly dismissive reviews of Jaws 3-D (a.k.a. Jaws III and Jaws 3), Rambo III, and RoboCop 3.

how is threequel used?

Threequels present a unique challenge: audiences expect the exact same cast to make them feel the exact same way the first two installments did, but with an entirely new and original storyline.

Seth Grossman, "This Wasn’t Even Good Reality TV," New York Times, October 20, 2016

2011’s five top-grossing films tell a very different story: one sequel (The Hangover Part II), one threequel (Transformers: Dark of the Moon), two fourquels (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)—and one eightquel (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2).

Scott Meslow, "Between 'Potter' and 'Hunger Games,' a Spotty Decade for Teen-Lit Films," The Atlantic, March 22, 2012

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Word of the day

Friday, September 11, 2020

ineffable

[ in-ef-uh-buhl ]

adjective

incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible.

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What is the origin of ineffable?

Ineffable ultimately comes from Latin ineffābilis “(of a word) unpronounceable,” and in Late Latin and Christian Latin “(of the divine name) that cannot or must not be spoken.” Ineffābilis is a compound of in-, the Latin negative prefix that is equivalent to English un– (as in unspoken), and the verb effārī “to speak, speak out, speak solemnly, declare” (itself a compound of the preposition and prefix ex, ex– “out, out of” and fārī “to speak”). Another English derivative, infant, comes from Latin infāns (inflectional stem infant-) “small child, infant,” literally “nonspeaking,” formed from the same prefix in– and fāns, the present participle of fārī. Ineffable entered English in the late 14th century.

how is ineffable used?

As a child, I loved reading the dictionary in search of the precise words for everything. Reading this poem, whose title is a Japanese word often translated as ‘‘sunshine filtering through leaves,’’ I felt that wonder again—how the language of poetry can move us closer to naming what is ineffable.

Natasha Trethewey, "'Komorebi,' by Caitriona O'Reilly," New York Times Magazine, November 20, 2015

Again, I was listening very hard to jazz and hoping, one day, to translate it into language, and Shakespeare’s bawdiness became very important to me since bawdiness was one of the elements of jazz and revealed a tremendous, loving and realistic respect for the body, and that ineffable force which the body contains …

James Baldwin, "This Nettle, Danger ..." Show, Vol. 4, February 1964

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