Word of the Day

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

manqué

[ mahng-key ]

adjective

having failed, missed, or fallen short, especially because of circumstances or a defect of character; unsuccessful; unfulfilled or frustrated (usually used postpositively): a poet manqué who never produced a single book of verse.

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What is the origin of manqué?

Everything about the adjective manqué is French, including its spelling and syntax (manqué follows its noun, that is, a novelist manqué, not a manqué novelist). Manqué is the French past participle of manquer “to lack, be short of,” a borrowing from Old Italian mancare (early 14th century). Mancare comes from the Latin adjective mancus “having a useless hand, maimed, feeble, powerless,” a derivative of the noun manus “hand.” Manqué entered English in the second half of the 18th century.

how is manqué used?

I got an e-mail from a fellow-scholar who accused me of being an intellectual manqué.

Jill Lepore, "The Lingering of Loss," The New Yorker, July 1, 2019

At first, I planned to take a degree in psychiatry as many manqué talents do; but I was even more manqué than that …

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, 1955
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Tuesday, August 06, 2019

spondulicks

[ spon-doo-liks ]

noun

Older Slang.

money; cash.

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What is the origin of spondulicks?

Spondulicks “money, cash” was originally an American slang term, never very common, that emigrated to England and Ireland. It has no certain, agreed-upon etymology, but a Greek origin sphóndylos (later also spóndylos) “vertebra, cervical vertebra” has been suggested (from the supposed resemblance of vertebrae to a stack of coins). Huck Finn uses spondulicks in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, chapter 13 (1884): “I’m derned if I’d live two mile out o’ town, where there ain’t nothing ever goin’ on, not for all his spondulicks and as much more on top of it,” but the word had already existed in American English for several decades. Spondulicks also occurs in one of James Joyce’s short stories, “Ivy Day in the Committee Room,” in the Dubliners (1914). Spondulicks survived among Irish Americans in New York City into the early 1950s. Spondulicks entered American English in the 1850s.

how is spondulicks used?

I need to make a dramatic gesture, and for that I need spondulicks.

Ben Schott, Jeeves and the King of Clubs, 2018

Surely no bottom-line sharpie would cough up that kind of spondulicks for ad time after the first few minutes of a show that customarily had all America groaning with boredom before the first 40 commercials had blasted the parlor.

Russell Baker, "Right After This Shark," New York Times, January 29, 1986
Monday, August 05, 2019

intellection

[ in-tl-ek-shuhn ]

noun

the action or process of understanding; the exercise of the intellect; reasoning.

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What is the origin of intellection?

In Latin intellectiō (stem intellectiōn-), literally “understanding,” originally meant only synecdoche “a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part.” In Late Latin intellectiō acquired the further senses “an act or the faculty of understanding, intellect, idea, notion,” and in Old French and Middle English “understanding, comprehension, meaning, purpose.” Intellection entered English in the mid-15th century.

how is intellection used?

I arranged my face into a look of intense concentration, a look that implied I’d had a lightning flash of intellection ….

Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station, 2011

Right or wrong, agree or disagree, Hitchens “made intellection dramatic,” as his friend Martin Amis said.

David Remnick, "Remembering Christopher Hitchens," The New Yorker, April 20, 2012

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