• Word of the day
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    Thursday, August 09, 2018

    littoral

    adjective [lit-er-uhl]
    of or relating to the shore of a lake, sea, or ocean.
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    What is the origin of littoral?

    English littoral comes from the Latin adjective littorālis (lītorālis is more correct), a derivative of littor- (lītor-), the inflectional stem of lītus (littus) “shore, shoreline.” In general littoral is used for technical subjects, e.g., geography, biology. The one exception is the common noun lido meaning “fashionable beach resort,” and the somewhat less fashionable “public open-air swimming pool.” Lido comes directly from Venetian Italian Lido (di Venezia) (from Latin lītus), the name of a sandbar or chain of sandy islands between the Lagoon of Venice and the Adriatic, the site of the annual Venice Film Festival. Littoral entered English in the 17th century.

    How is littoral used?

    The Center for Advanced Studies would be built--perhaps there was still some virgin littoral stretch and the building he envisaged could be nestled somewhere along this lake or the other--but there would be modifications in the plan. Ralph McInerny, The Green Revolution, 2008

    In another hour the horns of motors began to blow down from the winding road along the low range of the Maures, which separates the littoral from true Provençal France. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender Is the Night, 1934

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, August 08, 2018

    calescent

    adjective [kuh-les-uhnt]
    growing warm; increasing in heat.
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    What is the origin of calescent?

    The English adjective calescent comes directly from Latin calescent-, the inflectional stem of calescēns, the present participle of the verb calescere “to become warm or hot,” a verb derivative of calēre “to be warm or hot.” In Latin the element -sc- in the present tense has inceptive force (i.e., “I am beginning to x”); thus the present tense of noscere (also gnoscere) means “I get to know, I find out” and is the source of English recognize, cognition, and other words. Calescent entered English in the early 19th century.

    How is calescent used?

    I've tested the misting fan’s potency in several clammy places, from subway stations to the congested, calescent queues at Disney World (where, on a stinking-hot day, I’d unwisely worn a boiler suit). Laura Bannister, "The Misting Fan That Kept Me Cool at Disney World," New York, June 12, 2017

    Otis' earlier statements had been calm, but calescent anger foamed in him and was soon to explode. Arelo C. Sederberg, The Dynamite Conspiracy, 2001

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, August 07, 2018

    normcore

    noun [nawrm-kawr, -kohr]
    a fashion style or way of dressing characterized by ordinary, plain clothing with no designer names, often a reaction against trendy fashion.
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    What is the origin of normcore?

    Normcore has the unpleasant feel of a neologism such as doublethink in George Orwell’s novel 1984. Normcore may be formed from norm (“a standard, the average level”) or normal (“conforming to a standard”); core may simply be from core (“essential part”) or be a shortening of hard-core (“uncompromising”). Normcore entered English in 2014.

    How is normcore used?

    At first, I spotted just occasional forays into normcore: the rare cool kid wearing clothes as lukewarm as the last sips of deli coffee—mock turtlenecks with Tevas and Patagonia windbreakers; Uniqlo khakis with New Balance sneakers or Crocs and souvenir-stand baseball caps. Fiona Duncan, "Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They're One in 7 Billion," New York, February 26, 2014

    Never mind that she’s royalty, Kate is in the vanguard of something that’s a bit like normcore (deliberately dressing in an untrendy way), only bigger and broader, which henceforth shall be known as Katenorm. Shane Watson, "The Duchess of Cambridge's new relaxed style is like a royal version of 'normcore'," Telegraph, June 14, 2018

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, August 06, 2018

    chevelure

    noun [shev-uh-loor]
    a head of hair.
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    What is the origin of chevelure?

    The pronunciation of English chevelure, accented on the final syllable, reveals the still unnaturalized status of the word after nearly six centuries. Chevelure looks like--and is--a French word meaning “head of hair, wig.” In Old French the word was spelled cheveleüre, from Latin capillātūra “hairlike flaw in a gem or gemstone,” a derivative of the adjective capillātus “longhaired,” itself a derivative of capillus “the hair on the head” (and like English hair a collective noun). Chevelure entered English in the 15th century.

    How is chevelure used?

    The arrangement of this chevelure is performed for the chiefs by professional barbers, and is a work of great labour. Six hours are sometimes occupied in dressing a head; and the process is repeated at intervals of two or three weeks. Robert Gordon Latham, The Natural History of the Varieties of Man, 1850

    ... time has stolen away his raven locks, and given him a chevelure of snow instead. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, The Mysterious Lodger, 1850

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, August 05, 2018

    vespine

    adjective [ves-pahyn, -pin]
    of or relating to wasps.
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    What is the origin of vespine?

    English vespine is a straightforward borrowing from the Latin noun vespa “wasp” plus the adjective suffix -ine, from Latin -īnus, and one could reasonably--but wrongly--conclude that wespā was the original Proto-Indo-European word for wasp. The original form was wepsā, wopsā, and Latin and English (among other languages) simply metathesized (or transposed) the consonants. Old English has many different forms for the insect: wæfs, wæps, wæsp, etc. The other Germanic languages also display the -ps- and -sp- forms. Outside Germanic, the extremely conservative Baltic languages have vapsvà (Lithuanian) and wobse (Old Prussian), both meaning “wasp.” The Baltic forms, especially the Old Prussian, also show more clearly the Proto-Indo-European root behind wasp and vespa: webh-, wobh- “to weave” (from the nests that wasps construct). Vespine entered English in the 19th century.

    How is vespine used?

    From above the cubicles looked like a magnified insect battery, a nest uncovered by mistake, a glimpse of geometrically precise rows of pods, lines of tiny vespine heads, shining with black Sony ovals, trembling with larval energy on T-shirt thoraces. Rana Dasgupta, Tokyo Cancelled, 2005

    The trees had turned a vespine yellow, as if trying to terrify what would eat them. Bennett Sims, A Questionable Shape, 2013

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, August 04, 2018

    squiz

    noun [skwiz]
    a quick, close look.
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    What is the origin of squiz?

    The noun squiz is a piece of slang used in Australian and New Zealand. Most slang terms are of uncertain origin, and squiz is no exception: it is possibly a blend of quiz and squint. Squiz entered English in the 20th century.

    How is squiz used?

    He'd been at me for months to come in and have a squiz at the work he'd done, but I really didn't care that much, and kept putting him off. Peter Doyle, The Devil's Jump, 2001

    She shrugged--which sort of annoyed me too--and I led her clomping to the front room where the sun was streaming in, and I had another squiz. Anne Kennedy, The Last Days of the National Costume, 2013

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, August 03, 2018

    arctophile

    noun [ahrk-tuh-fahyl]
    a person who is very fond of and is usually a collector of teddy bears.
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    What is the origin of arctophile?

    Arctophile means just “bear loving, bear lover,” but in modern English specifically a lover of teddy bears, not grizzlies. The suffix -phile “lover of, enthusiast for” is completely naturalized in English, as in cinephile, audiophile. The element arcto- comes from Greek árktos “bear,” the Greek result of a very widespread (and complicated in its development) Proto-Indo-European noun ṛ́tko- (earlier H₂ṛ́tko-) “bear” (the H₂ was possibly pronounced as in German Bach). Greek transposed the -tk- to -kt-. In Hittite the original H₂ṛ́tkos (spelled ḫartaggaš in the clumsy Hittite cuneiform) was probably pronounced hartkas, which is very close to the hypothetical form but is of uncertain meaning: the name of a predatory animal (?), a cult official (?). In the Indo-Iranian languages, Sanskrit ṛkṣa- and Avestan arša- are regular developments from ṛ́tko-. Italic (Latin) ursus has two problems: u- instead of o-, and the exact source of the first s. Celtic artos becomes art in Middle Irish, and arth in Welsh (Arthur in Welsh means “bear man”). Arctophile entered English in the 20th century.

    How is arctophile used?

    Unless you're an arctophile, which is just a fancy way of saying a teddy bear devotee, the name likely doesn't mean much, but it means a lot to collectors. John J. Lamb, The Crafty Teddy, 2007

    I am a past president of the American Society of Teddy Bear Collectors and have contributed dozens of articles to Teddy Bear Review and other arctophile journals. Clifford Chase, Winkie, 2006

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