Word of the Day

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

mythomane

[ mith-uh-meyn ]

noun

a person with a strong or irresistible propensity for fantasizing, lying, or exaggerating.

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What is the origin of mythomane?

The noun and adjective mythomane is a relatively recent word, dating from only the 1950s, and is a synonym for the noun and adjective mythomaniac, which is almost a century older (1857). Mythomaniac originally meant someone passionate about or obsessed with myths, its etymological meaning. By the early 1920s mythomaniac had acquired its current sense “someone with a strong or irresistible propensity for fantasizing, lying, or exaggerating.” The Greek noun mŷthos means “word, discourse, conversation, story, tale, saga, myth”; it does not mean “lie.” The curious thing is that the source word mythomania “lying or exaggerating to an abnormal degree” dates from only 1909.

how is mythomane used?

Lawrence himself was a mythomane and, after the first world war, took particular pains to project an image of himself to the public that was as much a construct as anything worked up by the PR team of a film star or celebrity of today.

William Boyd, "Lawrence of Arabia: a man in flight from himself," The Guardian, April 29, 2016

… he is a flat-out mythomane, dedicated to the Sublime, the Enormous and the Ultra-German; a marvelous artist at his best and at his worst a Black Forest ham.

Robert Hughes, "Mocker of All Styles," Time, May 27, 1999
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Monday, January 13, 2020

nival

[ nahy-vuhl ]

adjective

of or growing in snow: nival flora.

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What is the origin of nival?

The adjective nival comes straight from Latin nivālis “of or belonging to snow, snowy, covered in snow,” a derivative of the noun nix (inflectional stem niv-) “snow.” The adjective is relatively rare, being confined to zoology, botany, and physical geography. Nix is related to English snow, Sanskrit sneha-, Slavic (Polish) śnieg, and Irish snigid “it’s raining.” Nival entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is nival used?

… when the Alpine climbers ascend the snow-clad mountains of picturesque Switzerland and gather a pretty little bouquet of a dozen different nival flowers, on that barren zone ….

C. O. Van Cleve, "Arctic Flowers," Annual Report of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society, 1888

The nival region is characterised by accumulating snow deposits, both in the completely nival province where precipitation takes the form solely of snow and the semi-nival province where this is interrupted by rainfall.

Albrecht Penck, "Attempt at a Classification of Climate on a Physiographic Basis," Climatic Geomorphology, 1973
Sunday, January 12, 2020

euchred

[ yoo-kerd ]

adjective

Australian Informal.

utterly done in or at the end of one's tether; exhausted.

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What is the origin of euchred?

In Australian English euchred has meant “exhausted, destitute” since the second half of the 19th century, a meaning that formerly existed in American English. The sense derives from the card game euchre (originally American) in which, if a player plays a round and fails to take three tricks, they are euchred “done for,” a sense that was extended to “outwitted, outdone, deceived, cheated.” Euchre, the name of the card game, dates from the first half of the 19th century and has no known etymology.

how is euchred used?

You had one water bottle a day for all purposes, and it would be 48 degrees, so we were euchred physically as much as anything else, and it’s very wearing on the mental factor.

Bob Semple, as quoted in "A life and a violin, forever etched by the horrors of war," Sydney Morning Herald, April 21, 2018

My breath comes hard—I’m euchred boy …

Robert H. Newell, "Letter X," The Orpheus C. Kerr Papers, 1862

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