Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

mammonism

[ mam-uh-niz-uhm ]

noun

the greedy pursuit of riches.

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What is the origin of mammonism?

Mammonism “the greedy pursuit of riches,” derives from the Late Latin mammon (also mammōnas and mammōna) “wealth, personification of wealth,” from Greek mamōnâs, from Aramaic māmōn “riches, wealth, profit.” Mamōnâs occurs only in the Greek New Testament and is left untranslated, a usage that the Latin Vulgate also follows. By medieval times (for instance in the Old English Lindisfarne Gospels of the early 8th century) Mammon was a proper name for the Devil as the instigator of covetousness. In Piers Plowman (late 14th century), Mammon is the proper name for the devil of greed, and John Milton used Mammon as the name of one of the fallen Angels in Paradise Lost. Mammonism entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is mammonism used?

It is not so new, after all—this alliance of mammonism with epicurism—the mania for sudden wealth and the passion for a vulgar display of it in twenty-thousand-dollar banquets.

Addison Ballard, "Gust and Greed," New York Times, November 5, 1905

With our present system of individual Mammonism and Government by Laissez-faire, this Nation cannot live.

Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, 1843

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Monday, January 18, 2021

inextricably

[ in-ik-strik-uh-blee ]

adverb

in a way that is unable to be separated or disentangled.

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What is the origin of inextricably?

All of the elements of the adverb inextricably, “in a way that cannot be disentangled,” come from Latin, except the final adverb suffix –ly. The adjective inextricable comes from Latin inextrīcābilis, clearly composed of the negative prefix in– (from the same Proto-Indo-European source as English un-, as in unclear) and the compound verb extrīcāre “to set free, loose, solve (a problem),” which is formed from the preposition and prefix ex, ex– “out, out of” and the plural noun trīcae “knot of problems; nonsense” (which has no definite etymology). The last element of inextrīcābilis is the adjective suffix -ābilis, completely naturalized in English -able. The English adverb suffix -ly comes from Middle English -li, -lich, -liche, from Old English -līce, an adverb suffix formed from the adjective suffix –līc. The suffix –līc is related to the Old English noun līc “a body (usually dead),” which survives in English lich gate, the roofed gate to a cemetery where the coffin is set for the arrival of the clergyman. In English, therefore, clearly means “with a clear body”; in Romance (French, for example), the usual adverb suffix is -ment, from Latin mente “(with the) mind”; so the French adverb clairement “clearly” literally means “with a clear mind.” Inextricably entered English at the end of the 16th century.

how is inextricably used?

many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny, and they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "I Have A Dream," delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963

The issue of national security, for any of these countries as well as the United States, is inextricably interlinked not only with immigration and border policies but also with food security.

Abrahm Lustgarten, "How Russian Wins the Climate Crisis," New York Times Magazine, December 16, 2020

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Sunday, January 17, 2021

beamish

[ bee-mish ]

adjective

bright, cheerful, and optimistic.

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What is the origin of beamish?

You can be forgiven for thinking that beamish “bright, cheerful, optimistic” is a creation of Lewis Carroll’s: in his poem “Jabberwocky” in Through the Looking Glass (1871), Carroll wrote: “’And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? / Come to my arms, my beamish boy! / O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’ / He chortled in his joy.” Carroll was only the second English author to use beamish: the first one was John Palsgrave (ca. 1485-1545), classicist, linguist, lawyer, textbook author, and–most “interesting”–a priest serving at the court of King Henry VIII. As tutor to King Henry’s sister, Princess Mary, Palsgrave wrote and dedicated to King Henry a 1000-page French-English bilingual dictionary and contrastive grammar of English and French, Lesclarcissement de la langue francoyse (1530) “The Clarification of the French Language.” In his “Clarification,” Palsgrave translated and defined the French adjective radieux, “Beamysshe as the sonne is, radieux.”

how is beamish used?

Carell was playing Barry, a sweet, beamish misfit who builds dioramas using taxidermized mice.

Tad Friend, "First Banana," The New Yorker, June 28, 2010

As I went up the aisle at evening’s end, I was looking at rows of beamish faces, faces that were both pleased with the unfamiliar style of the show and also pleased with themselves for having managed to get the hang of it.

Walter Kerr, "A Dotty Old Friend Is Back in Town," New York Times, January 31, 1982

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