Word of the Day

Friday, October 18, 2019

minutiae

[ mi-noo-shee-ee, -nyoo- ]

plural noun

precise details; small or trifling matters: the minutiae of his craft.

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What is the origin of minutiae?

In English, minutiae is the plural of the noun minutia, which usually appears in the plural with the meaning “precise details, trifling matters,” the same sense as the Late Latin plural noun minūtiae. In Latin only the singular minūtia appears, and it has its literal meaning “smallness, fineness,” a derivative of minūtus, the past participle of minuere “to reduce in size, lessen.” From the same root min-, Latin also has the words minor “smaller in size or kind” (English minor), minus “a smaller number” (English minus), minimus “smallest, least” (English minimum and minimal), and minusculus “rather small, pretty small” (English minuscule). Minutiae entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is minutiae used?

In my preceding chapters I have tried, by going into the minutiae of the science of piloting, to carry the reader step by step to a comprehension of what the science consists of ….

Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1883

In a thank-you note to his devotees that he tweeted last week, the congressman offered a similar lulling density of minutiae.

Katy Waldman, "Beto O'Rourke's Rebirth as a Knausgaardian Blogger," The New Yorker, November 16, 2018
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Thursday, October 17, 2019

erumpent

[ ih-ruhm-puhnt ]

adjective

bursting forth.

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What is the origin of erumpent?

The rare adjective erumpent, used almost exclusively in biology, comes straight from Latin ērumpēns (stem ērumpent-), the present participle of ērumpere “to burst forth.” The compound verb ērumpere is composed of the prefix ē– (a variant of ex– “out, out of”) and the simple verb rumpere “to break,” whose past participle ruptus forms the much more common derivative erupt. Erumpent entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is erumpent used?

… on his head—pressing down his erumpent red hair—the vaguely Westernish broad-brimmed hat that signalled his difference from other philosophers (as if any such signal were needed) ….

John Gardner, Mickelsson's Ghosts, 1982

Minutes passed, sun-bathed, as they crossed a stretch of open land; the river slowed, the valley wider, furrowed fields flanking the highway, an erumpent green from rich black soil.

David Bosworth, "Psalm," Death of Descartes, 1981
Wednesday, October 16, 2019

wordie

[ wur-dee ]

noun

a person with an enthusiastic interest in words and language; a logophile: a new board game that will appeal to wordies of all ages.

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What is the origin of wordie?

Wordie in the sense “someone with an enthusiasm for words,” is relatively recent. There is also an older sense, “a little, wee word,” Scottish, dating from the first half of the 18th century and used by Robert Burns.

how is wordie used?

Eric has been a wordie since he was a kid growing up in New York City, a Games magazine acolyte who read the dictionary for fun and subscribes to Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics

Stefan Fatsis, Word Freak, 2001

As a teacher of English, a part-time poet and a full-time wordie, I took genuine delight in Patricia T. O’Conner’s review of books about language by Ben Yagoda and David Crystal ….

Stephen J. Kudless, "Speech, Speech!" Letter to the Editor, New York Times, April 1, 2007

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