Word of the Day

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

matutinal

[ muh-toot-n-l, -tyoot- ]

adjective

pertaining to or occurring in the morning; early in the day.

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What is the origin of matutinal?

Matutinal “occurring in the morning, early” comes from the Late Latin adjective mātūtinālis, a derivative of the Latin adjective mātūtīnus “of the (early) morning,” and via Old French, the source of English matins, the first canonical hour (morning prayer in the Anglican Church). Mātūtīnus is a derivative of Mātūta (Māter), the Roman goddess of the dawn. Roman matrons made a cake for Mātūta Māter for her festival, the Mātrālia, celebrated on June 11th, and commended their children to her for protection. Matutinal entered English in the first half of the 15th century.

how is matutinal used?

Early rising is a ritual with me. Unlike my nocturnal brethren in show business, I am matutinal by nature.

Jack Benny, "After 39 Years—I'm Turning 40," Collier's Weekly, February 19, 1954

However, he displayed a remarkable equanimity in the midst of chaos, maintaining a matutinal regimen of five hundred words regardless of the circumstances.

Ruth Franklin, "God in the Details," The New Yorker, September 27, 2004

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

swivet

[ swiv-it ]

noun

a state of nervous excitement, haste, or anxiety; flutter.

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What is the origin of swivet?

Swivet “nervous excitement, haste, anxiety” usually occurs in the phrase in a swivet, or in such a swivet. Swivet is an American colloquialism of unknown origin, first appearing in 1890 in the Vermont Journal.

how is swivet used?

On the night of their 10th anniversary, he’d been in such a swivet about what to give her that he locked himself in his bedroom trying to choose the right gift.

Caitlin Flanagan, "Jackie and the Girls," The Atlantic, July/August 2012

Here in the valley of my mid-50s, I try not to get into a swivet over my occasionally faulty memory: Sometimes the mind has a mind of its own.

Henry Alford, "Total Recall: A Reader's Guide to Memory Gain," New York Times, January 7, 2018

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Monday, December 21, 2020

brumal

[ broo-muhl ]

adjective

wintry.

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What is the origin of brumal?

The adjective brumal “wintry” ultimately comes from Latin brūmālis “pertaining to the winter solstice, or to the winter,” a derivative of the noun brūma “the day of the winter solstice, the position of the sun on the solstice, midwinter” (both the noun and the adjective are very restricted in their usage). Brūma comes from breuma, a contraction of brevi-ma “shortest” (Latin v is pronounced like English w). The ending –ma is an old superlative ending (usually replaced in Latin by –issima; brevissima is standard Latin). Brevi– is the inflectional stem of brevis “short, low, shallow, stunted,” and the source of English breve and brief. Brumal entered English in the first half of the 16th century.

how is brumal used?

Our motley platoon of snowmobiles was chewing up a rippled meadow high on the southwestern flanks of the Gore Range near Vail, Colo., four bundles of motorized mayhem zigzagging across a brumal landscape.

Rick Lyman, "It's Vail in the Winter. Who Needs Skis?" New York Times, January 26, 2003

Operated under the Antarctic Treaty System, the South Pole is meant to be a brumal Eden of science, where research centers are freed from the political binds that exist in the world above.

B. David Zarley, "In Ashley Shelby's South Pole Station, a Climate Change Denier Rocks Antarctica's Research Community," Paste, July 6, 2017

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