Word of the Day

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

lardy-dardy

[ lahr-dee-dahr-dee ]

adjective

Chiefly British Slang. characterized by excessive elegance.

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What is the origin of lardy-dardy?

Pity that one doesn’t see as many lardy-dardy types as formerly—affected swells, languid fops, chichi dandies lounging about music halls and theaters. Lardy-dardy entered English in the 1850s, at the height of the Victorian era. It is often said to be the British aristos’ non-rhotic (“r-less”) Received Pronunciation of la-di-da—a nice story except that lardy-dardy predates la-di-da by nearly 20 years.

how is lardy-dardy used?

“Good afternoon!” — in rather lardy-dardy, middle-class English. “I wonder if I may see your things in your studio.”

D. H. Lawrence, The Captain's Doll, 1923

It was exaggerated flattery he always felt provoked and disgusted with. Such absurd palaver, and lardy-dardy talk as that of his grand mover and seconder.

F. A. J., "Greaswick for Coalheavers': or, The Alderman's Election" The Amateur's Magazine, 1859
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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

ahistorical

[ ey-hi-stawr-i-kuhl, -stor-i-kuhl ]

adjective

without concern for history or historical development; indifferent to tradition.

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What is the origin of ahistorical?

The formation of the adjective ahistorical is clear: the first syllable, a-, is a variety of the Greek prefix an-, a- “not” (an-, a- is from the same Proto-Indo-European source as English un-). Historical is a derivative of Greek historía “learning or knowing by inquiry, history,” a derivative of hístōr “one who knows or sees,” akin to English wit and Latin vidēre “to see,” and the Latin suffix -al, with the general sense “of the kind of, pertaining to, having the form or character of” that named by the stem. Ahistorical entered English in the 20th century.

how is ahistorical used?

The notion that all human history – and all human societies – can be shoehorned into a simple binary scheme is not new … But it is always simplistic, ahistorical, and therefore wrong.

Alan Knight, "Tight/loose cultures theory is simplistic and ahistorical," The Guardian, September 18, 2018

The boxlike room, stripped of all embellishment or parlor fussiness, a room that wished to be timeless or ahistorical, and there, in the middle of it, my deeply historical, timeworn grandmother.

Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex, 2002
Monday, December 10, 2018

logogriph

[ law-guh-grif, log-uh- ]

noun

an anagram, or a puzzle involving anagrams.

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What is the origin of logogriph?

A logogriph is a special kind of word puzzle in which a word, and other words formed from any or all of its letters, must be guessed from hints given in verses. Lógos is well known in English: the first, most obvious of its many, many meanings is “word,” as in the prologue to St. John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word (Lógos).” The combining form logo- is very common in Greek (e.g., logopoieîn “to compose, write speeches,” logoprageîn “to write copiously”) and in English (e.g., logocentrism and logorrhea). The tricky word is grîphos (its variant grîpos shows it is not a native Greek word). Grîphos means “(woven) fishing basket, creel,” and metaphorically “something intricate, dark saying, riddle; forfeit paid for failing to guess a riddle.” Grîphos by itself would have been sufficient; adding the combining form logo- specifies its meaning. Logogriph entered English in the late 16th century.

how is logogriph used?

He was most anxious to secure for himself the priority of discovery, and yet he was unwilling to make a premature and possibly incorrect announcement. So he resorted to the ingenious device of a “logogriph,” or puzzle. It appears … as follows: aaaaaaa ccccc d eeeee g h iiiiiii llll mm nnnnnnnnn oooo pp q rr s ttttt uuuuu

Harold Jacoby, Astronomy: A Popular Handbook, 1913

That one man should have possessions beyond the capacity of extravagance to squander, and another, able and willing to work, should perish for want of embers, rags and a crust, renders society unintelligible. It makes the charter of human rights a logogriph.

John J. Ingalls, “John J. Ingalls on the Social Malady,” Sunday Herald, June 11, 1893

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