Word of the Day

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

linguaphile

[ ling-gwuh-fahyl ]

noun

a language and word lover.

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What is the origin of linguaphile?

Linguist has existed in English since the 16th century. It means “one who is adept at learning and using foreign languages; one who is a student of language or linguistics; a translator or interpreter.” Linguaphile has a somewhat different meaning: “one who loves words or languages.” The originally Greek suffix -phile (“lover of”) is completely naturalized in English. Lingua in Latin means “tongue, language”; its Old Latin form was dingua, from Proto-Indo-European dṇghwā, which is also the source of Germanic (English) tongue, and of Celtic (Old Irish) teng, Baltic inžũ-, and Slavic (Polish) język (with Baltic and Slavic loss of initial d-; ę represents a nasalized vowel). Linguaphile entered English in the late 20th century.

how is linguaphile used?

The collection has so many good passages — whole paragraphs that move into pages with never a misstep — that any linguaphile could spend a great afternoon in a little spasm of dazzle.

Robin Romm, "Baser Instincts," New York Times, July 19, 2013

In the story “Entourage,” a linguaphile travels to Poland, Denmark, Germany, Turkey, and more, collecting suitcases full of books in their original languages.

Nathan Scott McNamara, "Everything Was a Fake," Los Angeles Review of Books, June 8, 2018
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Monday, October 15, 2018

patzer

[ paht-ser, pat- ]

noun

a casual, amateurish chess player.

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What is the origin of patzer?

Patzer was first recorded in 1955–60. It is probably from German Patzer “bungler,” equivalent to patz(en) “to bungle” (compare Austrian dialect Patzen “stain, blot,” patzen “to make a stain”).

how is patzer used?

Anatoly Karpov, the champion before Kasparov, once said the only difference between a prodigy and a patzer was how far into the future a player could look.

Mitch Silver, The Bookworm, 2018

You’re a patzer. Look that up in your dictionary.

Mark Coggins, The Immortal Game, 2006
Sunday, October 14, 2018

brightwork

[ brahyt-wurk ]

noun

polished metal parts, as on a ship or automobile.

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What is the origin of brightwork?

Brightwork is an Americanism dating back to 1835–45.

how is brightwork used?

One other mode of passing time while in port was cleaning and polishing your bright-work; for it must be known that, in men-of-war, every sailor has some brass or steel of one kind or other to keep in high order …

Herman Melville, White Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War, 1850

Under the unblinking gaze of the sun, windshields blazed and brightwork gleamed.

Dean Koontz, The Husband, 2006

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