Word of the Day

Monday, April 09, 2018

mea culpa

[ mey-uh kuhl-puh, mee-uh ]

noun

an acknowledgment of one's responsibility for a fault or error.

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What is the origin of mea culpa?

Aging Roman Catholics who were altar boys before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) can recite from memory the formula from the Confiteor at the beginning of Mass: meā culpā, meā culpā, meā maximā culpā, traditionally translated “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” The Latin phrase was first used in the 13th century as an exclamation or interjection. The noun use of mea culpa, “acknowledgment of responsibility or guilt,” arose in the 19th century.

how is mea culpa used?

Facebook was reluctant, however, to issue any mea culpas or action plans with regard to the problem of filter bubbles or Facebook’s noted propensity to serve as a tool for amplifying outrage.

Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein, "Inside the Two Years That Shook Facebook--and the World," Wired, February 12, 2018

Only later on are they willing to strike a bargain with him: a refuge for a mea culpa.

Paul West, A Fifth of November, 2001
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Sunday, April 08, 2018

truckle

[ truhk-uhl ]

verb

to submit or yield obsequiously or tamely (usually followed by to): Don't truckle to unreasonable demands.

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What is the origin of truckle?

The noun truckle originally (in the early 15th century) meant “a small wheel with a groove around its circumference for a cord or rope to run.” Later in the same century, truckle also had the meaning “a small wheel or roller placed under a heavy object to help move it.” In the 17th century truckle was short for truckle bed or trundle bed, i.e., a low bed moving on casters and usually stored under a larger bed. It is from this last sense, the supine sense, as it were, that truckle acquired its current meaning “to yield or submit meekly” in the 17th century.

how is truckle used?

If anything, having professionals serve who remember that their oath is to support and defend the Constitution—and not to truckle to an individual or his clique—will be more important than ever.

Eliot Cohen, "To An Anxious Friend," The American Interest, November 10, 2016

By refusing to truckle to power, by adopting Afro-centric stylings and proclaiming that black really was beautiful, she became a heroine for generations of African American women.

Louis Bayard, "Book Review of 'Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone,' by Nadine Cohodas," Washington Post, February 28, 2010
Saturday, April 07, 2018

phraseology

[ frey-zee-ol-uh-jee ]

noun

manner or style of verbal expression; characteristic language: legal phraseology.

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What is the origin of phraseology?

In the early 17th century (1604) phrasiology (or phrasiologie) was the original English spelling of phraseology. There is no Greek noun phrasiología, let alone phraseología, but phrasiology is correctly derived from Greek phrásis “speech, enunciation, expression, idiom, phrase” and the combining form -logía “science (of).” The current spelling phraseology ultimately rests on the Greek word phraseologia “phrase book” of Michael Neander (1525-95), a German humanist, educator and philologist. Neander possibly derived phrase- from phráseōs, the genitive singular of phrásis. Phraseology entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is phraseology used?

The will is not exactly proper in legal phraseology.

George Bernard Shaw, The Devil's Disciple, 1897

… three previous presidents distinguished themselves through phraseology: “morning in America,” “city on a hill,” “tear down this wall,” “new world order,” “thousand points of light,” “axis of evil,” “bigotry of low expectations.”

Derek Thompson, "Donald Trump's Language Is Reshaping American Politics," The Atlantic, February 15, 2018

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