Word of the Day

Friday, April 06, 2018

mushyheaded

[ muhsh-ee-hed-id, moosh- ]

adjective

Informal. inadequately thought out: mushyheaded ideas.

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What is the origin of mushyheaded?

Mush, cornmeal boiled in water or milk until thick, eaten as a hot cereal, or molded and fried, is originally an Americanism dating back to the late 17th century. A derivative compound, mushhead “a stupid person,” also an Americanism, dates to the mid-19th century; its derivative adjective mush-headed “easily duped, stupid”, dates to the second half of the 19th century. Mushyheaded (or mushy-headed), a variant of mush-headed, dates to the late 20th century.

how is mushyheaded used?

Hard-headed because it accepts self-interest as the basic human motivator and does not wish it away into what Alinsky considers the mushy-headed idea that people will do good because they believe in the good.

Frank Bardacke, Trampling Out the Vintage, 2011

Though Cotton acknowledges that this might seem elitist, he derides the Federalists’ modern critics as mushy-headed and naive.

Molly Ball, "The Making of a Conservative Superstar," The Atlantic, September 17, 2014
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Thursday, April 05, 2018

Shangri-la

[ shang-gruh-lah, shang-gruh-lah ]

noun

a faraway haven or hideaway of idyllic beauty and tranquility.

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What is the origin of Shangri-la?

The placename Shangri-La was coined by the English novelist James Hilton (1900-54), but the name has a firm Tibetan etymology. Shangri-La in Tibetan means “Shang Mountain Pass,” from Shang, the name of a region in Tibet; ri means “mountain,” and la means “pass.” Beyond the name itself, everything associated with Shangri-La is pure speculation and fantasy. Shangri-La entered English in 1933.

how is Shangri-la used?

A small settlement wedged between fjord-like Lake Chelan and the jagged eastern slopes of the Cascades, Stehekin has several comfortable lodges, an excellent bakery and, best of all, relatively few visitors. … First, of course, we had to get to this little Shangri-La.

Ethan Todras-Whitehill, "In the Cascades, a Trifecta for Outdoor Enthusiasts," New York Times, September 17, 2014

With its youth and isolation and spectacular scenery, there was a tendency to think of Los Alamos as a Shangri-La.

Katrina R. Mason, Children of Los Alamos: An Oral History of the Town Where the Atomic Age Began, 1995
Wednesday, April 04, 2018

mythoclast

[ mith-uh-klast ]

noun

a destroyer or debunker of myths.

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What is the origin of mythoclast?

English mythoclast comes from two familiar Greek words. The Greek noun mŷthos has many meanings: “speech, word, public speech, unspoken word, matter, fact,” as in mythology, “a set of stories, traditions, or beliefs.” The Greek combining form -klastēs “breaker” is most familiar in iconoclast “one who breaks images or statues” (literally and figuratively). A mythoclast is one who breaks or destroys a myth or myths in general. Mythoclast entered English in the late 19th century.

how is mythoclast used?

Tommy Moore, a life-long friend, an insatiable consumer of history, and a fellow mythoclast by constitution, accompanied me to the field on several occasions, and read sections of the working manuscript.

Scott Stine, A Way Across the Mountain, 2015

… right now I reckon him a mythoclast, the sort of man you wouldn’t trust with the Glastonbury Thorn, the Devil’s Arrows at Boroughbridge, or Father Christmas.

John Hillaby, "What's under York Minster?" New Scientist, March 29, 1973

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