Word of the Day

Word of the day

Monday, February 12, 2018

madeleine

[ mad-l-in, mad-l-eyn ]

noun

something that triggers memories or nostalgia: in allusion to a nostalgic passage in Proust's Remembrance of Things Past.

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What is the origin of madeleine?

The etymology of madeleine (in full, gâteau à la Madeleine), which is named after an 18th-century cook named Madeleine Paulnier or Paumier, is dubious. Madeleines (the small cakes) are popular today, but perhaps the word madeleine “something that evokes a memory or nostalgia” has more significance from the use of madeleine in this sense in Swann’s Way (1922), the first volume of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu), also known in English as Remembrance of Things Past.

how is madeleine used?

… thus temporarily bringing the sounds and smells of his dream world to him, a madeleine of the ever-postponed future.

Jane DeLynn, Real Estate, 1988

To reread this is like scenting a Madeleine of the drama and struggle that once was.

Mustapha Marrouchi, Edward Said at the Limits, 2004
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Word of the day

Sunday, February 11, 2018

berceuse

[ French ber-sœz ]

noun

Music. a cradlesong; lullaby.

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What is the origin of berceuse?

Berceuse, not yet naturalized in English, still retains its French pronunciation or a semblance of it. Berceuse is an agent noun in French, meaning “girl or woman who rocks a cradle, lullaby,” the feminine of berceur “a cradle rocker.” In English, berceuse is restricted to “lullaby,” especially as a musical composition in 6/8 time, as, e.g., “Brahms’ Lullaby.” Berceuse entered English in the 19th century.

how is berceuse used?

The berceuse is so soothing, it ought to send your husband to sleep …

A. R. Goring-Thomas, Wayward Feet, 1912

I love soft songs that soothe me–something cradle-like–a Berceuse, you understand.

Fergus Hume, The Man with a Secret, 1890

Word of the day

Saturday, February 10, 2018

fiddle-footed

[ fid-l-foo t-id ]

adjective

Informal. restlessly wandering.

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What is the origin of fiddle-footed?

Fiddle-footed was first recorded in 1945-50.

how is fiddle-footed used?

Instead, they just kept moving, a pair of fiddle-footed ramblers, following the wind, until that drifting brought them out here.

Robert Coover, Ghost Town, 1998

Being fiddle-footed was its own peculiar blessing and curse at the same time.

Jon Sharpe, The Trailsman #290: Mountain Mavericks, 2005

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