Word of the Day

Monday, July 23, 2018

leonine

[ lee-uh-nahyn ]

adjective

resembling or suggestive of a lion.

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What is the origin of leonine?

The English adjective leonine comes from Latin leōnīnus, a derivative of the noun leō (inflectional stem leōn-), a borrowing from Greek léōn (inflectional stem léont-). Léōn is not a Greek word, but it does look somewhat like Hebrew lābhī; both the Greek and the Hebrew nouns may be borrowings from a third language. The Greek historian Herodotus (484?-425? b.c.) and the philosopher Aristotle (384-322 b.c.) both assert that lions were rare in Europe in their day but were still found. Leonine entered English in the 14th century.

how is leonine used?

Only a few discerned the inexorable firmness in the depth of his soul, and the magnanimous and leonine qualities of his nature.

Plutarch (c46–c120), "Fabius Maximus," Plutarch's Lives, Volume III, translated by Bernadotte Perrin, 1916

George Clooney was at home in Los Angeles one afternoon in mid-January, a few days before he flew to Sudan in his new role as a United Nations “Messenger of Peace” (an appointment that overlooked reports of a recent public scuffle with Fabio, the leonine model).

Ian Parker, "Somebody Has to Be in Control," The New Yorker, April 14, 2008
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Sunday, July 22, 2018

vogie

[ voh-gee, vog-ee ]

adjective

Scot. conceited; proud.

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What is the origin of vogie?

The adjective vogie is Scottish through and through, and all the citations of the word come from Scottish authors. Vogie has no good etymology: it is tempting to etymologize the word as vogue plus the suffix -ie, but the meanings of vogue and vogie do not match. Vogie entered English in the 18th century.

how is vogie used?

… a most comical character, so vogie of his honours and dignities in the town council that he could not get the knight told often enough what a load aboon the burden he had in keeping a’ things douce and in right regulation amang the bailies.

John Galt, Ringan Gilhaize; or, The Covenanters, 1823

My only beast, I had nae mae, / And vow but I was vogie!

Robert Burns, "My Hoggie," 1788
Saturday, July 21, 2018

carte blanche

[ kahrt blanch, blahnch ]

noun

unconditional authority; full discretionary power: She was given carte blanche to decorate her room as she wished, perhaps an unwise decision on the part of her parents.

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What is the origin of carte blanche?

In the early 18th century carte blanche, literally “blank paper,” was a paper officially signed and given to another party to write in his or her own conditions or terms. By 1766 carte blanche acquired the meaning “full discretionary power, unconditional authority,” its current meaning. By the 19th century carte blanche in some card games, e.g., piquet, also meant “a hand of cards having no face cards, especially in piquet.”

how is carte blanche used?

If you think this … grants you carte blanche to stroll willy-nilly through that building asking any question that pops into your head, regardless of its bearing on the matter you are investigating, you are sadly mistaken.

Stephen Coonts, America, 2001

… what it said should not be interpreted as giving other businesses carte blanche to do what Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, did.

German Lopez, "Why you shouldn't freak out about the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling," Vox, June 4, 2018

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