a framework of doctrines, ideas, beliefs, or the like, constructed around a person or object, endowing the person or object with enhanced value or profound meaning.
Mystique “a framework of ideas endowing a person with profound meaning” is a borrowing from French and is cognate to English mystic. Both mystic and mystique derive by way of Latin from Ancient Greek mýstēs “initiate into the mysteries”; mysteries, in this context, are sacred rites and customs only known to a small, select group of people—much like how only one person or a few people know the facts behind a mystery. Mýstēs comes from the verb myeîn “to initiate, teach,” from the similarly spelled verb mýein “to close (the lips or eyes).” The implication here is that, when new initiates are exposed to the mysteries, they will stay close-lipped about what they see. Mystique was first recorded in English in the early 1890s.
It’s clear why legendary Scottish warrior Scáthach chose this tucked-away-from-the-world spot to found her impenetrable college of martial combat. Promising students would come from far and wide to train in warfare and sorcery here, and to learn in secret from perhaps the greatest fighter the Celtic realms have ever known. But what ultimately happened to the powerful warrior queen Scáthach remains a mystery; the lack of any known tomb only adds to her mystique. Since the Middle Ages, legend has it that she’ll return when the world needs her most.
Timbuktu conjures up images of long camel caravans out on the edge of the sand-strewn Sahara—a remoteness so legendary that the ancient city is still a byword for the end of the earth …. Even the spelling of the place has added to the mystique. It appeared as “Tenbuch” in the Catalan Atlas (1375) and has since been variously rendered as “Thambet,” “Timbuctoo” and “Timbuktoo.” In official documents produced by the government of France, Mali’s former colonial master, it is often spelled “Tombouctou.”
a whimsical or fanciful ornament or contrivance; gimmick.
Whigmaleerie “a whimsical or fanciful ornament or contrivance” is a noun from Scots, a language that is spoken today by over one million people in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Scots is not the same as Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic language closely related to Irish Gaelic; instead, Scots and modern English both descend from Middle English and diverged approximately 800 years ago. Whigmaleerie, earlier figmalirie, is most likely a fanciful and elaborate invention based on common elements in expressive words. The initial fig– could be based on Scots fig “to move briskly” (perhaps related to fidget), while the medial –ma– could be inspired by the similar-sounding syllable in words such as rigmarole and thingamabob. Whigmaleerie was first recorded in English in the 1720s.
The Cathedral itself corresponds in impressive majesty with these accompaniments. We feel that its appearance is heavy, yet that the effect produced would be destroyed were it lighter or more ornamental. … Andrew Fairservice, who saw with great pride the effect which it produced upon my mind, thus accounted for its preservation. ‘Ah! [I]t’s a brave kirk—nane o’ yere whigmaleeries and curliewurlies and open-steek hems about it[.’]
“Jewelry-making is a big cottage industry here. Would you like to stop at one of the shops and look over the whigmaleeries?” …. They had paused at a window display that seemed to Dee like the open mouth of a pirate’s treasure cave. Strings of richly glowing pearls in every color imaginable hung from perches and gleamed in overflowing baskets. There were pearl bracelets, pearl earrings, armlets, pins, hair ornaments, and rings.
one of the pair of hardened forewings of certain insects, as beetles, forming a protective covering for the posterior or flight wings.
Elytron “one of the pair of hardened forewings of certain insects” is a borrowing by way of New Latin from Ancient Greek élytron “covering.” The ending -on in Ancient Greek is a common marker of neuter nouns, and these nouns swap the -on in their singular forms for -a in the plural. This pattern still exists today in English among many (though not nearly all) words of Ancient Greek origin that end in -on; one criterion becomes two or more criteria, and one phenomenon becomes two or more phenomena. The Latin equivalent of the -on ending is -um, as in one curriculum vs. two or more curricula and one millennium vs. two or more millennia. Elytron was first recorded in English circa 1750.
Small square pieces of the delicate wing and of the elytron of a Staphylinus were placed on some leaves, and after these had re-expanded, the pieces were carefully examined. Their angles were as sharp as ever, and they did not differ in appearance from the other wing and elytron of the same insect which had been left in water. The elytron, however, had evidently yielded some nutritious matter, for the leaf remained clasped over it for four days; whereas the leaves with bits of the true wing re-expanded on the second day.
Getting run over by a car is not a near-death experience for the diabolical ironclad beetle. How the beetle survives could inspire the development of new materials with the same herculean toughness, engineers show in a paper published Wednesday (Oct. 21) in Nature …. The study, led by engineers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and Purdue University, found that the diabolical ironclad beetle’s super-toughness lies in its two armorlike “elytron” that meet at a line, called a suture, running the length of the abdomen.
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