Word of the Day

Sunday, August 18, 2019

luminary

[ loo-muh-ner-ee ]

noun

a person who has attained eminence in his or her field or is an inspiration to others: one of the luminaries in the field of medical science.

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What is the origin of luminary?

English luminary comes from Middle English luminari(e) “light (especially of the sun or moon), lamp, source of spiritual light, shining example of holiness, earthly glory,” from Old French luminarie, luminaire, from Medieval Latin lūmināria (plural of lūmināre), from Late Latin lūmināria “lights, lamps,” used in the Vulgate for the lights in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem and in Christian churches. (The Vulgate is the Latin version of the Bible, prepared chiefly by St. Jerome at the end of the 4th century a.d.). In Latin of the classical period, lūmināre meant merely “window, window shutter.” Luminary entered English in the late 15th century.

how is luminary used?

I have been accustomed to consider him a luminary too dazzling for the darkness which surrounds him ….

Percy Bysshe to William Godwin, January 3, 1812, in The Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Vol. 1, 1912

She had been a luminary of the British folk revival in the nineteen-fifties and sixties—a ballad singer with a steady, almost austere approach to melody, a demure presence, and a true, heartbreaking voice.

, "What We're Reading This Summer," The New Yorker, June 20, 2018
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Saturday, August 17, 2019

redoubtable

[ ri-dou-tuh-buhl ]

adjective

that is to be feared; formidable.

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What is the origin of redoubtable?

English redoubtable comes from Middle English redoutable “terrible, frightening, worthy of honor, venerable,” ultimately from Old French redotable, redoubtable, a derivative of the verb redouter “to fear, dread.” Redouter is formed from a French use of the prefix re– as an intensive (for instance, in refine), a use that Latin re– does not have, and from Latin dubitāre “to doubt, hesitate, waver” (but not “to fear”). Redoubtable entered English in the first half of the 15th century.

how is redoubtable used?

Isabelle may not realize it for a while, but she’s become a redoubtable opponent, Vincent.

Jonathan Carroll, Glass Soup, 2005

“They are as redoubtable a gang of pirates as ever sailed the Spanish Main,” Cannon said in introduction to his remarks about the Florida delegation.

Keith Wheeler, Henry Suydam, Norman Ritter, Bill Wise, and Howard Sochurek, "Now—See the Innards of a Fat Pig," Life, August 16, 1963
Friday, August 16, 2019

beadledom

[ beed-l-duhm ]

noun

a gratuitous or officious display or exercise of authority, as by petty officials.

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What is the origin of beadledom?

Beadledom, “a gratuitous or officious display or exercise of authority, as by petty officials,” is a compound of beadle and the noun suffix –dom. In Old English a býdel meant “a herald, proclaimer, preacher,” from an original Germanic budilaz “a herald,” akin to Old High German butyl and German Büttel “bailiff, beadle.” The Germanic word was adopted into Romance, becoming bidello in Italian, bedel in Spanish and Old French, and bidellus or bedellus in Medieval Latin.

Nowadays a beadle is a minor officer in a parish who acts as an usher and maintains order during services, a sense the word has had since the late 16th century. The Middle English forms, such as budel, beodel, bidell (deriving from Old English býdel), were gradually replaced by French bedel beginning in the early 14th century; the modern spelling beadle dates from the early 17th century.

The abstract noun suffix –dom, indicating a state or condition, as in wisdóm “wisdom” and cyningdóm “kingdom,” is akin to Old English and Old Saxon –dóm, German –tum (as in Heiligtum “sanctuary, shrine, relic”), and was originally an independent noun meaning “putting, position, stature, judgment,” a derivative of the verb do. Beadledom entered English in the 1840s.

how is beadledom used?

… I shall endeavor to limit the occupation of the Beadle of Golden Square to pure beadledom, by prohibiting him from waiting at the evening parties of the trustees, and beating the door-mats of the inhabitants.

Editors, "Punch for Parliament," Punch, Vol. 13, 1847

The music of beadledom has an attire uniformly officious, sublimely unmeaning.

, "The Decadence of Church Music," The Musical Standard, No. 428, Vol. 3, October 12, 1872

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