• Word of the day
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    Friday, April 20, 2018

    neatnik

    noun [neet-nik]
    Slang. a person who is extremely neat about surroundings, appearance, etc.
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    What is the origin of neatnik?

    Neatnik was formed in opposition to the supposedly scruffy, unshaven beatnik (coined in 1958). The suffix -nik, still unnaturalized in English, is of immediate Yiddish origin, from Slavic (Russian, Ukrainian). English peacenik, also derogatory, dates from 1962. Neatnik entered English in 1959.

    How is neatnik used?

    This yard scrubbing leaves the neatnik poised and ready to intercept the very first leaf to yield to gravity. Adrian Higgins, "Americans love mulch--and many of us are misusing it," Washington Post, September 13, 2017

    I could almost identify by type the managers who had come and gone in the thirty years the building had been occupied. One was a neatnik, who'd filed all the paperwork in matching banker's boxes. Sue Grafton, T Is for Trespass, 2007

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, April 19, 2018

    booklore

    noun [book-lawr]
    facts and information about books, especially about authors and circumstances of publication.
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    What is the origin of booklore?

    One of the current meanings of booklore, “facts about books, their authors and publication,” applies mostly to the business of buying, trading, and selling books, especially of first editions and antiquarian books. The other meaning of booklore is as a much less common synonym of book learning. Wulfstan of York (died 1023), Archbishop of York and homilist (a writer or speaker of sermons, usually on Biblical or religious subjects) is the first writer to use booklore. Not surprisingly Wulfstan uses bóclár in the sense “book learning, especially religious book learning.” Booklore entered English in the early 11th century.

    How is booklore used?

    Besides reviving interest in booklore generally and bringing about the secularization of many of the great libraries, the influence of Humanism and of the Reformation also resulted in demands that libraries be opened to the public. H. H. Bockwitz, "Books--In Spite of Fire and Sword," The Rotarian, December 1936

    Scattered among the review excerpts of a gallaxy [sic] of its titles are some fascinating bits and pieces of book lore. Do you know the origin of the words book, volume and tome? Who now is the most widely translated author? Al, "Bookwatch," New Scientist, May 1, 1975

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    omnishambles

    noun [om-nuh-sham-buh lz]
    Chiefly British Informal. a situation, especially in politics, in which poor judgment results in disorder or chaos with potentially disastrous consequences.
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    What is the origin of omnishambles?

    The first element of omnishambles, omni- “all,” is familiar in English in omnibus, omnipotent, omnivorous, and omniscient, derived from the Latin adjective omnis “all.” Shambles has a gorier history. In the 9th century the Old English noun scomol (spelled variously) simply meant “stool, footstool,” derived from Latin scamellum, scamillum “low stool.” By the 10th century the noun also meant “a counter or table for conducting business”; by the 14th century the word acquired the sense “table or counter for selling meat.” During the 16th century shambles came to mean “slaughterhouse; place of wholesale carnage.” Shambles in the sense “a mess, a ruin, scene of disorder” was originally an Americanism, first occurring in print in 1926.

    How is omnishambles used?

    The Budget, dubbed an 'omnishambles' by critics, marked the government's mid-term low point which even the triumph of the London Olympics was unable to dispel. Michael Burton, The Politics of Austerity, 2016

    Iannucci calls these characters "well-meaning but damaged individuals" and by putting them into situations of omnishambles where everything is deeply at stake, he makes a stronger satire of Washington and more entertaining television. Marc Edward Shaw, "Veep's poetics of omnishambles," Politics and Politicians in Contemporary US Television, 2017

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    purse-proud

    adjective [purs-proud]
    proud of one's wealth, especially in an arrogant or showy manner.
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    What is the origin of purse-proud?

    Purse-proud was first recorded in 1675–85.

    How is purse-proud used?

    London was still London ... heavy, clumsy, arrogant, purse-proud but not cheap; insular but large; barely tolerant of an outside world, and absolutely self-confident. Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, 1918

    The fellow is a bad neighbour, and I desire, to have nothing to do with him: but as he is purse-proud, he shall pay for his insolence ... Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, 1771

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, April 16, 2018

    ken

    noun [ken]
    knowledge, understanding, or cognizance; mental perception: an idea beyond one's ken.
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    What is the origin of ken?

    English ken comes from the very widespread Proto-Indo-European root gnō- (and its variants gnē-, gen-, and gṇ-) “to know.” The variant gnō- appears in Greek gignṓskein (and dialect gnṓskein), Latin gnōscere, nōscere, and Slavic (Polish) znać “to know.” The variant gnē- forms cnāwan in Old English (and know in English); the variant gṇǝ- (with suffixed schwa) yields cunnan “to know, know how to, be able” in Old English (and can “be able” in English). Ken is recorded in English before 900.

    How is ken used?

    Books, Mr. Taylor thought, should swim into one's ken mysteriously; they should appear all printed and bound, without apparent genesis; just as children are suddenly told that they have a little sister, found by mamma in the garden. Arthur Machen, The Hill of Dreams, 1907

    Little things, trifles, slip out of one's ken, and one does not think it matter for surprise; but how so bulky a thing as the Seal of England can vanish away and no man be able to get track of it again--a massy golden disk ... Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper, 1881

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, April 15, 2018

    pantofle

    noun [pan-tuh-fuh l, pan-tof-uh l, -toh-fuh l, -too-]
    a slipper.
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    What is the origin of pantofle?

    Pantofle “indoor shoe, slipper” comes from Middle French pantoufle, pantophle (and other spellings). The word occurs in other Romance languages, e.g., Occitan and Italian have pantofla (and other spellings), and Spanish has pantufla. Catalan changed the position of the l in original pantofla to plantofa under the influence of planta “sole (of the foot)”; compare English plantar (wart). Further etymology of pantofle is speculative. Pantofle entered English in the late 15th century.

    How is pantofle used?

    "I've lost a pantofle!" he whispered desperately. Sally Watson, The Outrageous Oriel, 2006

    ... your art / Can blind a jealous husband, and, disguised / Like a milliner or shoemaker, convey / A letter in a pantofle or glove, / Without suspicion, nay at his table ... Philip Massinger, The Emperor of the East, 1632

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, April 14, 2018

    carking

    adjective [kahr-king]
    Archaic. distressful.
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    What is the origin of carking?

    Carking derives from Norman French carquier “to load, burden,” from Late Latin carcāre, carricāre “to load.” In Old French, i.e., Parisian French, the dialect spoken in the île de France (the region of France that includes Paris), Late Latin carcāre becomes chargier (which becomes charge in English). Norman French does not palatalize c (representing the sound k) before a, which Old French does; thus in English we have the doublets cattle (from Norman French) and chattel from Parisian French. Late Latin carcāre becomes cargar “to load” in Spanish, the source of English cargo. Carking entered English in the early 14th century.

    How is carking used?

    Laranger's answering smile showed no trace of the carking anxiety and deadly uncertainty which filled him at the thought of the future. Joseph B. Ames, "The Secret of Spirit Lake," Boys' Life, September 1927

    If we get our victuals daily we can lift our voices gaily / In a song that chants farewell to carking care. Anonymous, "Cheer Up," The Rotarian, June 1920

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