• Word of the day
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    Wednesday, January 02, 2019

    neoteric

    adjective [nee-uh-ter-ik]
    modern; new; recent.
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    What is the origin of neoteric?

    English neoteric comes straight from Late Latin neōtericus, straight from Hellenistic Greek neōterikós “young, youthful, modern (in style).” The Greek root is neo- “new” (newo- in some dialects), akin to Latin novus “new” (from newos), Germanic (English) new, and Slavic (Polish) nowy. The Proto-Indo-European suffix -ter- has several functions, one of them showing naturally occurring pairs, e.g., older and younger (as here), right and left, upper and lower. The Latin suffix -icus is of Proto-Indo-European origin, the same source as Greek -ikós, and Germanic -ig- (German -ig, English -y). The most famous of the Greek neōterikói was the poet and critic Callimachus (c310-c240 b.c.); the most famous Latin neōtericus (and the only one whose works has survived) was Catullus (c84-c54 b.c.). Neoteric entered English in the 16th century.

    How is neoteric used?

    ... they call me a singular, a pedant, fantastic, words of reproach in this age, which is all too neoteric and light for my humour. Charles Lamb, "Fragments from Burton," John Woodvil, 1802

    The temporary purpose may be attained; adherents may be gained for some neoteric doctrine; but the world in general is plunged deeper into error, into the misunderstanding of humanity. Charles F. Horne, The Technique of the Novel, 1908

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, January 01, 2019

    auspicate

    verb [aw-spi-keyt]
    to initiate with ceremonies calculated to ensure good luck; inaugurate.
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    What is the origin of auspicate?

    Romans were addicted to religion, law, and the military (not always sharply differentiated), and no public business could be conducted without first taking the auspices. The basic Latin word is auspex (stem auspic-), literally “bird watcher.” The syllable au- is a reduced form of avi-, the stem of the Latin noun avis “bird”; the suffix -spex means “one who watches or inspects,” a derivative of the verb specere “to observe, watch” (which has many derivatives in English, e.g., expect, inspect, suspect, etc.). The Latin derivative noun auspicium “bird watching” also applied to other forms of divination, e.g., ex caelō, i.e., observing thunder and lightning; ex quadrupedibus, observing the behavior of four-footed animals, e.g. a wolf eating grass; ex dīrīs from observing dreadful, uncanny, or dire signs. There were other forms of auspices too silly to mention, but when the results of public elections were at stake or there was an important, controversial bill being debated in the Senate, why surely the gods had to approve (or not). Auspicate comes from the Latin past participle auspicātus, a derivative of the verb auspicārī “to take the auspices.” Auspicate entered English in the early 17th century.

    How is auspicate used?

    He was soon in great request to deliver addresses and auspicate new ventures … “In Memoriam: Edward Thring,” The Cambridge Review, November 2, 1887

    If we are conscious of our station, and glow with zeal to fill our places as becomes our situation and ourselves, we ought to auspicate all our public proceedings on America with the old warning of the church, Sursum corda! Edmund Burke, Speech of Edmund Burke, Esq. on Moving His Resolutions for Conciliation with the Colonies, 1775

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, December 31, 2018

    totsiens

    interjection [tawt-seenz]
    until we meet again; goodbye.
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    What is the origin of totsiens?

    Totsiens is not a misspelling; in Afrikaans totsiens (tot siens) means “goodbye,” literally “until we see (each other again), au revoir, arrivederci, auf Wiedersehen, do widzenia,” from tot “as far as, until” and sien “see.” Totsiens entered English in the 20th century.

    How is totsiens used?

    Well Paula I will say 'totsiens' for now ... Emma Brockes, She Left Me the Gun, 2013

    Totsiens, Oom, totsiens, Tannie ... You know where we live. Come and see us sometime. Paul-Constant Smit, Gold Never Rusts, 2016

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, December 30, 2018

    champers

    noun [sham-perz]
    British Slang. champagne.
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    What is the origin of champers?

    Champers is a British slang term for champagne, as the suffix -ers suggests. The suffix originated in the Rugby School (in east Warwickshire) and spread to Oxford University towards the end of the 19th century; champers, therefore, is not old at all, dating from the mid-20th century.

    How is champers used?

    He was about to take a whisky, when he was distracted by the larger glasses. "Ah, champers, dear boy," he said, "champers for me." Olivia Manning, The Great Fortune, 1960

    At its beginning, Champagne scarcely resembled the dry, fine-fizzed champers we know today. Jane and Michael Stern, "A Kick from Champagne," New York Times, December 25, 2008

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, December 29, 2018

    gussy

    verb [guhs-ee]
    Informal. to enhance the attractiveness of in a gimmicky, showy manner (usually followed by up): a room gussied up with mirrors and lights.
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    What is the origin of gussy?

    The verb gussy is usually followed by up. Gussy up “to dress elaborately, dress up, smarten up” is an American and Canadian slang term, and like many slang terms, its etymology is obscure. Gussy up may derive from gussie, an Australian and American slang term for a weak, effeminate man (first appearing in Australia and the US in 1901 or 1902). The verb phrase gussy up appears in 1906 in Canada and in 1912 in the US.

    How is gussy used?

    When a not-so-careful writer tries to gussy up his prose with an upmarket word that he mistakenly thinks is a synonym of a common one, like simplistic for simple or fulsome for full, his readers are likely to conclude the worst: that he has paid little attention what he has read, is affecting an air of sophistication on the cheap, and is polluting a common resource. Steven Pinker, The Sense of Style, 2014

    ... he was busy helping his dad gussy up the old tractors for the parade. Gayle Brandeis, Delta GIrls, 2010

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, December 28, 2018

    smackeroo

    noun [smak-uh-roo]
    a noisy kiss.
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    What is the origin of smackeroo?

    Smackeroo is originally (and still usually) an American slang term with three meanings: "something very good or excellent; cash, folding money; a sharp slap or hard blow (accidental or deliberate).” The etymology of smackeroo isn’t very clear: it may come from smacker “a dollar; a loud kiss,” or from the verb smack “to strike sharply; kiss loudly.” The suffix -eroo is an Americanism of uncertain origin, used for forming jocular, gaudy variants of neutral or colorless nouns, e.g., switcheroo for switch. Smackeroo entered English in the mid-20th century.

    How is smackeroo used?

    Do you grab the first person to cross your path and plant a big wet smackeroo, or leave the party before midnight to avoid the whole issue? Roxanne Roberts, "A Peck of Advice on the New Year's Eve Kiss," Washington Post, December 30, 1998

    I can't possibly discuss all that action, so let me focus on a few key kisses. First, Mary and Matthew’s very cinematic smackeroo ... June Thomas, “Matthew and Mary, Anna and Bates: Downton’s great couples,” Slate, February 12, 2012

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, December 27, 2018

    memorist

    noun [mem-er-ist]
    a person who has a remarkably retentive memory.
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    What is the origin of memorist?

    Memorist is a rare word. When it entered English in the late 17th century, it meant “one who prompts the memory or conscience.” Memorist was revived in the late 19th century as an Americanism meaning “one who has a retentive or prodigious memory.”

    How is memorist used?

    As a memorist he is phenomenally endowed, his retentiveness so acute that he recites readily without reference or prompting, declamations committed in his schoolboys days more than seventy years ago. William Travis, A History of Clay County Indiana, Volume II, 1909

    ... a memorist appeared on a Sunday morning TV show. He was introduced to the 100 or so youngsters in the audience and repeated all of their names back to them at the end of the show. Ron Fry, Improve Your Memory, 2012

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