Word of the Day

Saturday, March 27, 2021

matzo

[ maht-suh; Sephardic Hebrew mah-tsah; Ashkenazic Hebrew mah-tsaw ]

noun

unleavened bread in the form of large crackers, typically square and corrugated, eaten during Passover.

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What is the origin of matzo?

Most Americans are familiar with matzo “unleavened bread in the form of large crackers,” because food stores routinely stock matzo on their shelves, especially just before Passover, which occurs in the early spring. Matzo comes via Yiddish matse (plural matses) from Hebrew maṣṣāh (plural maṣṣōth). Maṣṣāh comes from a West Semitic root meaning “to be or become sour, ferment.” Matzo entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is matzo used?

Every spring, we piled into the station wagon with my dad, who drove miles in search of a grocery store that sold Passover food. In a larger town, twenty minutes away, we could usually find a few Manischewitz products on a bottom shelf—a dusty jar of borscht, a tin of macaroons, a box of matzo. That orange-and-green logo was a beacon.

Elizabeth Weiss, "Kosher for Gentiles," The New Yorker, April 11, 2014

At its most traditional, matzo is made from just flour and water. But adding a little salt for flavor and olive oil for richness yields an airy, tender matzo that’s easy to make.

Melissa Clark, "Easy Matzo," NYT Cooking

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Friday, March 26, 2021

fustigate

[ fuhs-ti-geyt ]

verb (used with object)

to criticize harshly; castigate.

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What is the origin of fustigate?

The English verb fustigate, “to criticize harshly; scold severely,” comes from Late Latin fustīgātus, the past participle of the verb fustīgāre “to beat to death with a cudgel.” Fustīgāre is a compound of the noun fustis “a stick, club, cudgel” and the combining form –igāre, a derivative of the simple, much overworked Latin verb agere “to do, act.” The same combining form appears in lītigāre “to go to law,” source of English litigate and litigation; fūmigāre “to smoke,” source of English fumigate and fumigation; and nāvigāre “to travel by ship, sail,” English navigate and navigation. Fustigate entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is fustigate used?

He fustigates them energetically a few years later for their political affiliations, their efforts to bring about a social revolution, their commitment to the physical, whereas, according to Artaud, the great revolution must be a revolution of the spirit, a metamorphosis of what he called the soul.

Leonard Cabell Pronko, Theater East and West, 1967

He fustigates only those propositions that go against the evidence in the service of an undeniable initial lie.

Herbert Southworth, Guernica! Guernica! A Study of Journalism, Diplomacy, Propaganda, and History, 1977

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Thursday, March 25, 2021

concatenation

[ kon-kat-n-ey-shuhn ]

noun

a series of interconnected or interdependent things or events.

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What is the origin of concatenation?

Concatenation comes straight from the Late Latin noun concatēnātiō (stem concatēnātiōn-) “connection, sequence” (literally “chaining together”), a derivation of catēna “chain.” The Italian and Spanish words for “chain” (catena and cadena, respectively) far more closely resemble the Latin original than does the modern French chaîne (the English source for “chain”), which passed through the stages chaeine (Old French), from caeine (Old North French), from Latin catēna. Concatenation entered English in the early 17th century.

how is concatenation used?

It took an amazing concatenation of circumstances, from Lyndon Johnson’s withdrawal to Rockefeller’s tergiversations to Humphrey’s disaster at the hands of the left in Chicago, to make him President.

Stewart Alsop, "Nixon and the Square Majority: Is the Fox a Lion?" The Atlantic, February 1972

Before the huge Saturn 1B rocket thundered off its launch pad, the effort had been plagued by an extraordinary concatenation of weather delays, electronic gremlins and other obstacles.

"Apollo's First Success," New York Times, February 27, 1966

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