the act of taking part cheerfully or enthusiastically in some festive or merry celebration.
Merrymaking “participating in a festive occasion” comes from the verb merrymake, from the verb phrase to make merry. The adjective merry, which these days quickly calls to mind the winter holidays, dates from Old English. Interestingly, the well-known Christmas carol God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen dates from the 16th century, if not earlier, and its first line (notice the position of the comma) originally meant “God keep you joyful, Gentlemen.” During the 18th century, the transitive sense of the verb rest “to keep, preserve” became obsolete, and rest acquired the transitive sense “to grant rest to,” which required a change of punctuation to “God rest you, Merry Gentlemen.” Merrymaking entered English in the first half of the 17th century.
We all know that Christmas will look different this year. But while many of our usual sources for merrymaking might be off limits or cancelled, there are still plenty of things we can do outside to make us feel jolly.
He walked briskly back to his hole, and stood for a moment listening with a smile to the din in the pavilion, and to the sounds of merrymaking in other parts of the field.
a small round candy made of sugar with various flavoring and coloring ingredients; a bonbon.
Sugarplum is a transparent compound of the nouns sugar and plum. The sugar in a sugarplum is the ordinary kind used in cooking and confectionery, but plum here refers to the plum-like size (small) and shape (round or roundish) of the hardened mass of sugar. In fact, in the second half of the 17th century, sugarplum was synonymous with comfit, a candy with a kernel of nut or fruit. Sugarplums have long been associated with Christmas, as in Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas (perhaps more commonly known as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas), first published in 1823, “The children were nestled all snug in their beds, / While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.” Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Nutcracker (1892), is set on Christmas Eve, and one of its main characters is the Sugarplum Fairy. The American journalist and poet Eugene Field (1850-95) is not much read today, but he is still famous for his children’s poems, such as Wynken, Blynken and Nod and The Duel (better known as The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat). Fields also wrote the lullaby The Sugar-Plum Tree. Sugarplum entered English in the second half of the 17th century.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, / While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
These days, the poem is more likely to prompt a question than a vision: what exactly is a sugarplum and, almost more importantly, why was it doing so much dancing back in the early 19th century?
pertaining to or occurring in the morning; early in the day.
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.
Early rising is a ritual with me. Unlike my nocturnal brethren in show business, I am matutinal by nature.
However, he displayed a remarkable equanimity in the midst of chaos, maintaining a matutinal regimen of five hundred words regardless of the circumstances.
a state of nervous excitement, haste, or anxiety; flutter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
a comfortable or cozy room.
Snuggery “a comfortable, cozy room” is a transparent derivative of the adjective snug “comfortably warm and cozy,” as in Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas (1823), “The children were nestled all snug in their beds, / While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.” The origin of snug is uncertain: it may be of Scandinavian origin, related to Old Norse snøggr “short, short-haired, sudden, brief,” Old Danish snøg, and Swedish snygg, both meaning “neat, trim, tidy.” Snuggery entered English in the first half of the 19th century.
On the top of the house was a snuggery, into which he retired when he wanted to be entirely alone, and this he called his Syracuse, or workshop.
No wonder, then, that Phra-Alack experienced an access of gratitude for the privilege of napping for two hours in a snuggery of sunshine.
Cordate, now used only in botany and biology in the meaning “heart-shaped,” comes from the Latin adjective cordātus “intelligent, sensible,” a derivative of the noun cor (inflectional stem cord-) “the heart” (the organ, also considered the seat of one’s conscience, will, and emotions). In English the senses “intelligent, prudent” became obsolete during the first half of the 18th century; Latin cordātus never had any biological senses. Cordate in the sense “intelligent, prudent” entered English in the mid-17th century; its modern sense in the second half of the 18th century.
He also wrote, at 15, his first poem after seeing a raindrop cause a cordate leaf to flutter.
Its leaves are variable in shape, as are those of most ivies, but generally cordate, or heart-shaped, and very dark green, larger than the Irish ivy, which is the ivy you see most often in Washington.