Word of the Day

Word of the day

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

maringouin

[ mar-uhn-gwan ]

noun

a mosquito, especially a large swamp mosquito.

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What is the origin of maringouin?

Maringouin “mosquito” is a borrowing from Louisiana French. Although Louisiana has been part of the United States for over 200 years, from its time as part of the former French Empire, it has retained its own dialect of French, which has incorporated vocabulary from English, Spanish, and Indigenous American languages. Unlike many words that Louisiana French has borrowed from local Indigenous languages, maringouin is allegedly a borrowing by way of standard French marigoin from mbarigui in Tupi, an extinct language once spoken in what is now Brazil. On what is now São Luís Island in the Brazilian state of Maranhão, the French briefly had a colony in the early 1600s, and it was during this period that author Claude d’Abbeville noted the potential connection between maringouin and Tupi; however, the use of maringouin in French predates d’Abbeville’s text by about 50 years, which casts doubt on this connection. Maringouin was first attested in French in the mid-1500s and appeared in English in the early 1800s.

how is maringouin used?

The surroundings of the district of Inga are really ideal, and life there is good. Yet there is something in this area that truly makes one hate living there, which is the fact that it is literally invaded by flying and biting creatures called the “maringouin”…

Junior Nzita Nsuami, If My Life As a Child Soldier Could be Told, 2016

The creature called mosquito in English and maringouin in French Canadian is a small insect similar to the French midge which differs from it only in size. It is generally bigger and its proboscis so strong and sharp that only woolen material can protect against its bites. These small midges are the scourge of the American wilderness.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835 

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Word of the day

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

busk

[ buhsk ]

verb (used without object)

to entertain by dancing, singing, reciting, juggling, etc., on the street or in a public place.

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What is the origin of busk?

Busk “to entertain on the street or in a public place” is of unclear origin, though there are multiple theories. One hypothesis is that busk is a borrowing from Polari, a type of English slang that developed in the 1700s. Polari was popular among theater workers, circus performers, sailors, and the gay community, and derived much of its vocabulary from Italian and other Romance languages. If busk was borrowed from Polari, it could derive from an Italian verb such as buscare “to procure, get, gain,” which itself was a borrowing from Spanish buscar “to look for, seek,” also of unclear origin. Busk was first recorded in English in the early 1850s.

how is busk used?

Before the jugglers, acrobats, and comedians hit the streets of the Scottish capital to busk at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, there’s morning coffee, a chat among colleagues, and the lottery. The three-week long Fringe welcomes street performers of every type and stripe to provide the raucous carnival atmosphere, from young men dressed as poppies to high-flying acrobats who have honed their skills for years.

Paul Casciato, “Busking is a lottery at Edinburgh Festival Fringe,” Reuters, August 9, 2009

Raised in California, Remi first got the music bug after she created a pre-teen girl group called Citrus with two of her friends, which went onto become a slightly more serious (and less fruit based) production during high school. “We would busk on the street, and I think that was the moment where I really started to think that I could do it as a career,” Remi recalls.

Elly Watson, "Wolf Like Her: Remi Wolf," DIY, October 15, 2021

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Word of the day

Monday, November 01, 2021

columbarium

[ kol-uhm-bair-ee-uhm ]

noun

a sepulchral vault or other structure with recesses in the walls to receive the ashes of the dead.

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What is the origin of columbarium?

Columbarium “a sepulchral vault with recesses in the walls for cremation urns” is a direct borrowing from Latin, in which the term means “a nesting box for pigeons” or, more simply, “a place for doves,” from columba “pigeon, dove” and the suffix -ārium, which denotes a location where something is stored or regularly found. A columbarium was originally an oversized birdhouse containing small alcoves in which pigeons could build their nests. From there, while the name and general shape was kept, a columbarium became a place in which the alcoves could house cremation urns. While columba itself is of uncertain origin, it is the source of given names such as Callum and Malcolm (by way of Celtic languages); surnames such as Coleman, Colombo, and Colón; and geographic names such as Colombia and Columbia—both the Canadian province and the American district. Columbarium was first recorded in English in the 1840s.

how is columbarium used?

The remains of the dead are sent to be cremated and placed in multistory depositories, called columbaria, that look very much like the government apartment blocks where many of them had lived before their interludes underground .… In Hong Kong, where the waiting time for a niche in a columbarium can be five years or more, the government has been trying, with limited success, to persuade people to scatter ashes at sea.

Seth Mydans, “Moving the Dead to Make Room for the Living,” The New York Times, December 14, 2009

Out in Odd Fellows’ Cemetery stands the largest, the best, the most original, and most beautiful columbarium in the whole world …. Mr. Cahill had seen the Old World columbaria, and they had not struck him as very agreeable places to be in …. The dead may be dead, but why should the living constantly be painfully reminded of it? Mr. Cahill proposed a cheerful columbarium! It was a startling move, but it struck the New World, Western fancy.

"A Cheerful Columbarium; San Francisco Claims to Have the Largest and Best in the World," San Francisco Examiner, October 15, 1899

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