• Word of the day
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    Tuesday, January 23, 2018

    maladroit

    adjective [mal-uh-droit]
    unskillful; awkward; bungling; tactless; lacking in adroitness: to handle a diplomatic crisis in a very maladroit way.
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    What is the origin of maladroit?

    English maladroit is a direct borrowing from French. The first element, mal-, is from the French adverb and combining form mal- “badly, ill,” from the Latin adverb male with the same meaning. The second element is the French adjective adroit “skillful, deft,” in origin a prepositional phrase à droit (also à dreit) “by or according to right; correctly.” The element à is from Latin ad “to, up to, towards.” Dreit (droit) is the French development of Vulgar Latin drēctum, drictum “straightened, straight,” from Latin dīrectum, dērectum “straight, right.” Maladroit entered English in the 17th century.

    How is maladroit used?

    He asked a thousand pardons of Madame la Duchesse for being so maladroit. William Makepeace Thackeray, The Newcomes, 1855

    Nixon’s maladroit attempt to be one of the boys indicates an important advance that shows up in the taping. Clive Irving, "Watergate Didn't Reveal Nixon's Demons—David Frost Did," Daily Beast, May 27, 2017

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, January 22, 2018

    featly

    adverb [feet-lee]
    neatly; elegantly.
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    What is the origin of featly?

    Featly is an archaic word, used mostly as an adverb and occasionally, since the 19th century, as an adjective. The word derives from the Middle English adverb feetly, fetly “properly, suitably,” from the Old French adjective fait, fet “made (for something),” from the Latin adjective factus “made.” The English suffix -ly is the usual suffix for forming adjectives and adverbs of manner. Featly entered English at the beginning of the 15th century.

    How is featly used?

    Foot it featly here and there ... William Shakespeare, The Tempest, 1623

    For so featly came riding in to the humble prosaic precincts of the cow-pens and into their hearts the vernal beauty of Spring herself ... that the ranchmen were bewitched and dazed, and knew no more of good common-sense. Mary Noailles Murfree, The Frontiersmen, 1904

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, January 21, 2018

    vulnerary

    adjective [vuhl-nuh-rer-ee]
    used to promote the healing of wounds, as herbs or other remedies.
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    What is the origin of vulnerary?

    The Latin adjective and noun vulnerārius first appears in the writings of the Roman polymath Pliny the Elder (23–79 a.d.), who perished in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 a.d. while trying to observe the eruption). As an adjective, vulnerārius means “(bandage) for dressing wounds"; as a noun, it means “surgeon.” Vulnerary entered English at the end of the 16th century.

    How is vulnerary used?

    She was now in an apartment of the castle, anxiously superintending the preparation of vulnerary herbs, to be applied to the wounded ... Sir Walter Scott, A Legend of Montrose, 1819

    Formerly country people cultivated Comfrey in their gardens for its virtue in wound healing, and the many local names of the plant testify to its long reputation as a vulnerary herb ... Maud Grieve, A Modern Herbal, 1931

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, January 20, 2018

    doodlesack

    noun [dood-l-sak]
    a bagpipe.
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    What is the origin of doodlesack?

    Doodlesack, a respelling of German Dudelsack “bagpipe,” literally “bagpipe sack,” is a rare word in English. The German word is, or seems to be, a derivative of dudeln “to tootle” (unless the verb is a derivative of the noun). Even in German Dudelsack appears not to be a native word but is likely to be a borrowing from a Slavic language, e.g., Polish and Czech dudy “bagpipe.” Doodlesack entered English in the mid-19th century.

    How is doodlesack used?

    You wouldn't happen to have brought a shawm or a doodlesack with you, by any chance? Or even a kazoo? Charlotte MacLeod, The Silver Ghost, 1988

    Kurdis put his hands to his kannel, the piper blew into his doodle sack and the assembled crowd moved across the courtyard. Friedebert Tuglas (1886–1971), "The Mermaid," The Poet and the Idiot And Other Stories, translated by Eric Dickens, 2007

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, January 19, 2018

    enfant terrible

    noun [ahn-fahn te-ree-bluh]
    French. an outrageously outspoken or bold person who says and does indiscreet or irresponsible things.
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    What is the origin of enfant terrible?

    In French enfant terrible means “terrible child,” one whose language and behavior are embarrassing to adults. From the beginning of the appearance of enfant terrible in English in the mid-19th century, the phrase has also referred to adults who embarrass or compromise their party or faction by outrageous speech or behavior, especially artists or other creative people notorious for their unconventional lifestyle.

    How is enfant terrible used?

    I am the enfant terrible of literature and science. If I cannot, and I know I cannot, get the literary and scientific big-wigs to give me a shilling, I can, and I know I can, heave bricks into the middle of them. Samuel Butler, The Notebooks of Samuel Butler, 1912

    In fact, he closely resembled Mrs. Littlejohn's uncle, Jeremy Uprichard, the obstinate and domineering enfant terrible of an otherwise charming and happy family. George Bellairs, Death in the Night Watches, 1946

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, January 18, 2018

    heartsome

    adjective [hahrt-suh m]
    Chiefly Scot. giving cheer, spirit, or courage: a heartsome wine.
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    What is the origin of heartsome?

    Heartsome was first recorded in the 1560s.

    How is heartsome used?

    ... Pauline ... ended with a silvery laugh that made the silence musical with its heartsome sound. Louisa May Alcott, Pauline's Passion and Punishment, 1863

    As he looked, the warm, red sun came out lighting up with a heartsome warmth the whole gray day. Rebecca Harding Davis, Margret Howth, 1861

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    paralipsis

    noun [par-uh-lip-sis]
    Rhetoric. the suggestion, by deliberately concise treatment of a topic, that much of significance is being omitted, as in “not to mention other faults.”
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    What is the origin of paralipsis?

    The rhetorical term paralipsis comes from Late Latin paralīpsis, which dates from the 3rd century and is a direct borrowing of Greek paráleipsis, a rhetorical term used and possibly coined by Aristotle in his Rhetoric to Alexander (also known by its Latin title Rhetorica ad Alexandrum). Preterition and apophasis are equivalent terms. Paralipsis entered English in the 16th century.

    How is paralipsis used?

    Paralipsis ... is a Greek term that translates to “leave to the side.” It’s thought to be an ironic way for a speaker to say two things at once. For example, say you wanted to imply that your coworker takes too many coffee breaks without actually accusing him wasting time at work. You might say something like, “I'm not saying that he drinks more coffee than anyone else in the office, but every time I go to the break room, he’s in there.” Jennifer Mercieca, "There’s an insidious strategy behind Donald Trump’s retweets," The Conversation, March 8, 2016

    After listing all the glories of Newark, all the familiar set pieces from his novels, after making sly and constant denials that he would dwell on any of it—a rhetorical move, he admitted, known as paralipsis—Roth finally settled into his real theme of the night: death. David Remnick, "Philip Roth's Eightieth-Birthday Celebration," The New Yorker, March 20, 2013

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