Word of the Day

Monday, August 17, 2020

limn

[ lim ]

verb (used with object)

to portray in words; describe.

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What is the origin of limn?

Limn is not a misspelling of another word. It comes from the late Middle English verb lymne(n) (also limnen, liminen, limpnen, luminen) “to illuminate (a book, manuscript, or rubric),” a shortening of enlumine, from the Old French verb enluminer. Enluminer comes from Latin illūmināre or inlūmināre “to give light to, brighten, illuminate.” The root of the Latin verb is the noun lūmen (inflectional stem lūmin-) “light, radiance, rays of light,” from an unrecorded louksmen. Louksmen is derived from the common Proto-Indo-European root leuk-, louk-, luk– “white, bright,” which is also the source of Latin lūx (stem lūc-) “a light,” lūna “moon (from louksnā, which is also the source of Russian luná “moon”), Greek leukós “white, bright,” amphilýkē “twilight,” and Old English lēoht, līht (English light). Limn entered English in the first half of the 15th century.

how is limn used?

What we do as writers, paradoxically, is attempt at one and the same time to summon up the whole of experience, to limn the world at full tilt, and to render some small portion of this world with such specificity that, walking past, the reader feels the grit of it catching in the soles of shoes.

James Sallis, "Introduction," New Orleans Confidential by O'Neil De Noux, 2006

The creators of the blog Tom and Lorenzo limn the reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” as a window into gay culture and history.

Monica Drake, "New & Noteworthy, From RuPaul to a Nine-Dish Meal," New York Times, March 4, 2020

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Sunday, August 16, 2020

vicarious

[ vahy-kair-ee-uhs, vi- ]

adjective

felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of others: a vicarious thrill.

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What is the origin of vicarious?

The adjective vicarious comes from the Latin adjective and noun vicārius “substituting, taking the place of another; one who takes over for or from another, a replacement or successor.” Vicārius is formed from the noun vicis (a genitive singular—the nominative singular does not occur) “a recurring occasion, a turn; an interchange or alternation,” and the adjective suffix –ārius, completely naturalized in English as –ary. Vicārius regularly becomes vicaire, vicar(e) in Old French, and vicar(e), vicair(e) in Middle English, with many meanings, including “one delegated with apostolic authority, such as a priest or the pope; a priest appointed to a parish in place of the regular priest or parson.” Vicarious entered English in the 17th century.

how is vicarious used?

Laying a sleeping bag on the hard metal floor of a rail car as it rumbles down the tracks is not for those accustomed to creature comforts. Yet his photographs of this life-on-the-edge experience illicit a vicarious thrill.

Alexa Keefe, "Not Your Typical Travelogue: A Photographer's Train-Hopping Adventures," National Geographic, September 28, 2015

Track and field are some of the most exciting events in the Olympic Games, but after the weeks of hype, the events themselves are so short … that it seems like they’re over before a casual fan has time to get a vicarious adrenaline rush.

Elspeth Reeve, "Get to Know the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Through GIFs," The Atlantic, July 24, 2012

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Saturday, August 15, 2020

jubilee

[ joo-buh-lee, joo-buh-lee ]

noun

the celebration of any of certain anniversaries, especially the fiftieth (golden jubilee).

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What is the origin of jubilee?

Jubilee comes from Middle English jubilee, jeubile, from Old French jubilee, jubilé, from Late Latin (annus) jūbilaeus “(year) of jubilee,” from the Greek adjective iōbēlaîos, from the noun iṓbēlos “jubilee,” from the Hebrew noun yōbhēl “ram’s horn, jubilee.” The change of the expected Latin spelling jōbēlaeus to jūbilaeus is due to the Latin verb jūbilāre “to shout for joy.” Jubilee first appears in John Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible in 1382.

how is jubilee used?

Few British monarchs have reached the 50-year milestone. King George III and Queen Victoria marked their golden jubilees with huge celebrations.

Ceylan Yeginsu, "Queen Elizabeth II’s Sapphire Jubilee Takes On Low-Key Tone," New York Times, February 6, 2017

To mark our silver jubilee, we look back at some of the biggest, brightest moments of the past 9,131 days.

"2008: Rachel Maddow Becomes First Queer Woman to Host Prime-Time News," Out, September 29, 2017

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