Word of the Day

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

magisterial

[ maj-uh-steer-ee-uhl ]

adjective

authoritative; weighty; of importance or consequence; of, relating to, or befitting a master: a magisterial pronouncement by the director of the board.

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What is the origin of magisterial?

Magisterial comes directly from Late Latin magisteriālis “pertaining to a teacher or magistrate,” a development of Latin magistrālis, a derivative of Latin magister “magistrate, master, teacher.” Magister is formed from the adverb magis “more” and the Proto-Indo-European suffix -ter, used to form natural or opposing pairs, e.g., dexter “right-hand” and sinister “left-hand,” noster “our” and vester “your,” and magister “master,” literally “the bigger guy,” and minister “servant, assistant,” literally “the smaller guy” (from the adverb minus “less”). Magisterial entered English in the 17th century.

how is magisterial used?

This is an impressive, magisterial book whose steady, earnest gaze also encompasses the lives of pickpockets and poets.

Robert McCrum, "Nightwalking review – an enthralling study of London after dark," Guardian, March 29, 2015

They heard a magisterial speech from A. Lawrence Lowell: “As wave after wave rolls landward from the ocean, breaks and fades away sighing down the shingle of the beach, so the generations of men follow one another, sometimes quietly, sometimes, after a storm, with noisy turbulence.”

William Martin, Harvard Yard, 2003
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Monday, July 16, 2018

garbology

[ gahr-bol-uh-jee ]

noun

the study of the material discarded by a society to learn what it reveals about social or cultural patterns.

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What is the origin of garbology?

Garbology is proof of the complete naturalization in English of the originally Greek combining form -ología “study of, science of.” The “correct” Greek word for the hybrid garbology is—or would be—tracheliology, from Greek trachḗlia “scraps of meat and gristle from the neck thrown away with offal,” or more simply “scraps, offal,” and -ología. The meaning of trachḗlia coincides very neatly with the meaning of garbage, originally “discarded bits of butchered fowl.” Garbology entered English in the 20th century.

how is garbology used?

The thing about garbology at that level, Smith says, is that it lets anyone–kids, teachers, parents–understand their own footprint, as well as their friends’. And once that’s understood, it’s possible to do something about it.

Edward Humes, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash, 2012

Had the Puente Hills landfill called it back in 2007, when the U.S. was on the verge of the Great Recession, perhaps we’d all be singing the praises of garbology as economic indicator.

Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley, "Touring the Largest Active Landfill in America," Atlantic, April 5, 2013
Sunday, July 15, 2018

coeval

[ koh-ee-vuhl ]

adjective

of the same age, date, or duration; equally old: Analysis has proved that this manuscript is coeval with that one.

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What is the origin of coeval?

The English adjective coeval comes from the Late Latin coaevus “of the same age.” The common Latin prefix co- is a variant of the prefix con-, from the preposition cum “with.” The noun aevum “age, the past, history” comes from the Proto-Indo-European root aiw-, ayu- “life force, long life, vitality,” from which Gothic derives awis “time, eternity,” German ewig “eternal, everlasting,” Old English ā “ever, always,” and Old Norse ei “ever,” the source of English ay (also aye). Coeval entered English in the 17th century.

how is coeval used?

An old woman, who seemed coeval with the building … received us at the gate …

Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, 1749

… the Serpent mentioned that very jest, and called it the First Chestnut, and said it was coeval with the creation.

Mark Twain, The Private Life of Adam and Eve, 1906

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