Word of the Day

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

legerity

[ luh-jer-i-tee ]

noun

physical or mental quickness; nimbleness; agility.

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What is the origin of legerity?

Legerity, “mental or physical agility,” comes from Middle French legereté “lightness, thoughtlessness,” a derivative of leger, liger “light (in weight).” Leger is a regular French phonological development of Vulgar Latin leviārius “light (in weight),” equivalent to Latin levis. The original and now obsolete English meaning of legerity was “lack of seriousness, frivolity” (its French sense). The current sense “nimbleness, quickness” dates from the end of the 16th century.

how is legerity used?

Alighting with the legerity of a cat, he swerved leftward in the recoil, and was off, like a streak of mulberry-coloured lightning, down the High.

Max Beerbohm, Zuleika Dobson, 1911

With such legerity of mind, how could I not study physics?

Jordana Jakubovic, "Physics to Go, and Hold the Math," New York Times, March 21, 2004

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Tuesday, September 01, 2020

scofflaw

[ skawf-law, skof- ]

noun

a person who flouts rules, conventions, or accepted practices.

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What is the origin of scofflaw?

Scofflaw, a transparent compound of the verb scoff “to deride, mock” and the noun law, was originally an Americanism coined during Prohibition. In 1923 Delcevare King, a wealthy prohibitionist from Quincy, Massachusetts, offered $200 in a contest for a word that best described “a lawless drinker of illegally made or illegally obtained liquor.” On January 15, 1924, the Boston Herald declared scofflaw the winner. Scofflaw had been submitted by Henry Dale and Kate Butler, two of the 25,000 contestants, who shared the prize.

how is scofflaw used?

Even then, he had a reputation as a scofflaw. He had exaggerated his war record. He first ran for Senate (and lost) while he was still in uniform, which was against Army regulations, and he ran his second Senate campaign while he was a sitting judge, a violation of his oath.

Louis Menand, "Joseph McCarthy and the Force of Political Falsehoods," The New Yorker, July 27, 2020

Larry David identified this breed of scofflaw [the two-space parker] as the “pig parker.”

Ray Gustini, "Pig Parkers, Parrot Talk, and Dustin Hoffman Heroics," The Atlantic, May 8, 2012

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Monday, August 31, 2020

gorp

[ gawrp ]

noun

Informal.

a mixture of nuts, raisins, dried fruits, seeds, or the like eaten as a high-energy snack, as by hikers and climbers.

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What is the origin of gorp?

Gorp, “trail mix,” was originally and still is mostly an American colloquialism dating from the 1950s. There is no satisfactory etymology for gorp (one common but improbable etymology interprets gorp as an acronym for good old raisins and peanuts; the Oxford English Dictionary notes that the verb gorp, “to eat greedily,” dates to 1913).

how is gorp used?

Oh, look, I found some MREs from that military-themed shindig where we taught a whole class to march and make their own gorp.

Caroline Aiken Koster, "Confessions of an Urban Prepper," Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2020

In that regard, every health-food nut knows what gorp is: a mix of cereal grains, peanuts, raisins, dates, little bits of chocolate or sugar candy. … To me, the word seems formed like Lewis Carroll’s creation of chortle by combining chuckle with snort: gorp is a wedded snort and gulp.

William Safire, "The Post-Holiday Strip," New York Times, January 6, 1985

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