• Word of the day
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    Friday, June 15, 2018

    nacreous

    adjective [ney-kree-uhs]
    resembling nacre or mother-of-pearl; lustrous; pearly.
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    What is the origin of nacreous?

    The English adjective nacreous is a derivative of nacre “mother-of-pearl.” Nacre comes from Middle French nacre, from Medieval Latin nacchara, nacara, nacrum. Other Romance languages have similar forms: Old Italian nacacra, nacchera, Catalan nacre, and Spanish nácar, all meaning “mother-of-pearl.” The further origin of nacre is uncertain: the most common etymology is that it comes from Arabic naqqāra “small drum,” or from Arabic naqur "hunting horn," a derivative of the verb nakara "hollow out," from the shape of the mollusk shell that yields mother-of-pearl. Nacreous entered English in the 19th century.

    How is nacreous used?

    Nacreous pearl light swam faintly about the hem of the lilac darkness; the edges of light and darkness were stitched upon the hills. Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, 1929

    It should not have surprised them to find the angel in that preserved condition. The fingernails, nacreous as the inside of an oyster shell ... Danielle Trussoni, Angelology, 2010

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, June 14, 2018

    semaphore

    noun [sem-uh-fawr, -fohr]
    a system of signaling, especially a system by which a special flag is held in each hand and various positions of the arms indicate specific letters, numbers, etc.
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    What is the origin of semaphore?

    Semaphore came into English from French sémaphore, a device for making and transmitting signals by line of sight. From the point of view of a purist or pedant, semaphore is a malformed word. The Greek noun sêma means “mark, sign, token,” and its combining form, which should have been used in semaphore, is sēmat-, which would result in sematophore. The combining form -phore comes from the Greek combining form -phoros “carrying, bearing,” a derivative of the verb phérein “to carry, bear.” Semaphore entered English in the 19th century.

    How is semaphore used?

    The gymnasts were like the diagrams to illustrate the semaphore alphabet, arms thrust firmly out in precise positions, a flag in each hand, the little figures in naval uniform like her brother, Ben, drawn over and over. Peter Rushforth, Pinkerton's Sister, 2005

    His younger brother admired his speed and what looked like his precision, though semaphore signals were a closed book to the major. Harry Turtledove, Fort Pillow, 2006

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, June 13, 2018

    antigodlin

    adjective [an-ti-god-lin]
    lopsided or at an angle; out of alignment.
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    What is the origin of antigodlin?

    Antigodlin is an adjective used chiefly in the American South and West. The origin of the word is unclear, but it may be a combination of the familiar prefix anti- “against, opposite” and godlin or goglin, a variant pronunciation of goggling, the present participle of goggle, in the archaic sense “to squint” and originally meaning “twisted to one side, cockeyed.” The form godlin may also be reinforced by the folk etymology “against God.” Antigodlin entered English in the early 20th century.

    How is antigodlin used?

    This was moved so as to make it set, as the witness expressed it, "antigodlin." ... we suppose he meant that it was set diagonally to the window after being moved so as to permit the party to pass between the side of the box and the window. Rudolph Kleberg, "Frank Fields v. The State," The Texas Criminal Reports, Volume 61, 1911

    When the ecology of the environment is out of sorts ("anti-godlin" as my mountain neighbors might say, referring to anything that is out of balance or out of plumb or that goes against God and the laws of nature), we also see symptoms ... Thomas Rain Crowe, Zoro's Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods, 2005

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, June 12, 2018

    blamestorming

    noun [bleym-stawr-ming]
    the process of assigning blame for an outcome or situation.
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    What is the origin of blamestorming?

    Blamestorming was originally a colloquialism in American English, modeled on the much earlier (1907) brainstorming. Blamestorming entered English in the 1990s.

    How is blamestorming used?

    Unfortunately, the common behavior exhibited many businesses is to have a meeting "the morning after" for a "blamestorming" session. This is where the CEO or manager sits around with their team and figures out who is to blame for the company's latest failure. "Are You a 'Blamestormer'?" Forbes, May 1, 2012

    And as long as we're blamestorming here, how about the developers who turned the Rollman property into McMansions in the early 1990s? B. J. Foreman, "Herd Mentality," Cincinnati, September 2009

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, June 11, 2018

    scrutator

    noun [skroo-tey-ter]
    a person who investigates.
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    What is the origin of scrutator?

    English scrutator comes straight from the Latin noun scrūtātor “searcher (after something or someone hidden),” a derivative of the verb scrūtārī“ to probe, examine closely,” originally “to sort through rags.” Scrūtārī itself is a derivative of the (neuter plural) noun scrūta “discarded items, junk.” Scrutator entered English in the late 16th century.

    How is scrutator used?

    Mistrust, assuming the ascendency, commenced its regency, and the observations of so indefatigable and eagle eyed a scrutator produced a conviction of the blackest perfidy. Judith Seargent Murray, "No. LXXVIII," The Gleaner: A Miscellaneous Production in Three Volumes, 1798

    I did not find him to be a thinker, and much less a scrutator ... Abbé Barruel, Memoirs, Illustrating the History of Jacobinism, translated by Robert Clifford, 1799

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, June 10, 2018

    sennight

    noun [sen-ahyt, -it]
    Archaic. a week.
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    What is the origin of sennight?

    The archaic English noun sennight means literally “seven nights,” i.e. a week. The Old English form was seofan nihta; Middle English had very many forms, including soveniht, sevenight, seven nyght, sennyght.

    How is sennight used?

    It had taken them only a sennight to travel from Sentarshadeen ... into the heart of the lost Lands to face the power of Shadow Mountain. Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, To Light a Candle, 2004

    She that I spake of, our great captain's captain, / Left in the conduct of the bold Iago, / Whose footing here anticipates our thoughts / A sennight's speed. William Shakespeare, Othello, 1622

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, June 09, 2018

    congeries

    noun [kon-jeer-eez, kon-juh-reez]
    a collection of items or parts in one mass; assemblage; aggregation; heap: From the airplane the town resembled a congeries of tiny boxes.
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    What is the origin of congeries?

    English congeries comes directly from the Latin noun congeriēs “collection, pile, heap,” a derivative of the verb congerere “to collect, amass.” Congeries is a singular noun in Latin as it has always been in English. In the mid-19th century a new singular arose in English, congery, a back formation from congeries. Congeries entered English in the 17th century.

    How is congeries used?

    ... each bud has a leaf, which is its lungs, appropriated to it, and the bark of the tree is a congeries of the roots of these individual buds ... Erasmus Darwin, "The Loves of Plants," The Botanic Garden, 1791

    He further emptied the valise, lifting out a queer-looking congeries of glass cells and coils to which the wire from the helmet was attached, and delivering a fire of running comment too technical for me to follow yet apparently quite plausible and straightforward. Hazel Heald and H. P. Lovecraft, "The Horror in the Museum," Weird Tales, July 1933

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