Word of the Day

Word of the day

Thursday, December 10, 2020

mitzvah

[ meets-vah, mits-; mits-vuh ]

noun

any good or praiseworthy deed.

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What is the origin of mitzvah?

Mitzvah “law, divine law, commandment” is probably most familiar to Americans in the phrases bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah “son / daughter of the Law / commandment,” the ceremony making the young person responsible for observing the Law. Mitzvah represents a modern pronunciation of Hebrew mișwāh “command, commandment.” There also exists the developed meaning of mișwāh “good deed performed in fulfillment of a commandment,” such as the obligation to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Mitzvah entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is mitzvah used?

Wearing something new for a festive occasion is a mitzvah, a commandment and good deed in Jewish law.

Elizabeth Hayt, "Sprucing Up For Holidays: It's a Mitzvah," New York Times, September 20, 1998

Here’s what I learned: it’s a mitzvah for humanity that I didn’t take my parents’ advice about becoming a doctor.

Patricia Marx, "Taking Virtual Reality for a Test Drive," The New Yorker, December 9, 2019

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Word of the day

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

abscond

[ ab-skond ]

verb (used without object)

to depart in a sudden and secret manner, especially to avoid capture and legal prosecution.

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What is the origin of abscond?

Abscond ultimately comes from Latin abscondere, “to hide away, stow away, store away,” a double compound verb formed from the preposition and prefix abs, abs-, a variant of ab, ab– “away, away from,” and the compound verb condere “to put in or into, store away, put away” (formed from the familiar prefix con-, here used with intensive force “thoroughly, completely,” and –dere “to put,” a verb used only in compounds). The usual modern meaning of abscond “to depart in a sudden and secret manner, so as to avoid capture and prosecution,” does not occur in Latin but developed in English during the 17th century. It is a reflexive or passive use of the verb: “to hide oneself, hide oneself away (from), flee, flee from prosecution.” Abscond entered English in the second half of the 16th century in the sense “to conceal, obscure.”

how is abscond used?

Mr. Angiolillo’s descendants say that their stepbrother absconded with the diamond after his mother died in 2009, but the stepbrother, Marco Milella, has insisted that he inherited the stone from his mother and that it was his to sell, according to court records.

Julia Jacobs, "Appeals Court Sends the Case of a Pink $40 Million Diamond to Trial," New York Times, July 10, 2020

In a complaint filed in the Central District of California, the three principals were charged not only with running the site but also with planning an “exit scam,” in which they intended to abscond with some eleven million dollars being held in users’ accounts.

Ed Caesar, "The Cold War Bunker That Became Home to a Dark-Web Empire," The New Yorker, July 27, 2020

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Word of the day

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

infodemic

[ in-foh-dem-ik ]

noun

a massive amount of widely and rapidly circulating information about a particular crisis or controversial issue, consisting of a confusing combination of fact, falsehood, rumor, and opinion.

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What is the origin of infodemic?

Infodemic, a transparent blend of info(rmation) and (epi)demic, was coined in 2003 by David J. Rothkopf, an American political scientist and journalist. Prof. Rothkopf was referring specifically to the profusion of information, misinformation, rumor, and outright falsehoods during the SARS epidemic of 2003.

how is infodemic used?

Yet if information is the disease, knowledge is also a cure. We should react to infodemics just as we do to diseases.

David J. Rothkopf, "When the Buzz Bites Back," Washington Post, May 11, 2003

Her aim was to assess and stop a global spread—not of the dangerous virus but of hazardous false information. She wanted to halt what her colleagues at the health agency are calling an “infodemic.”

Matt Richtel, "W.H.O. Fights a Pandemic Besides Coronavirus: An ‘Infodemic,’" New York Times, February 6, 2020

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