• Word of the day
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    Monday, January 15, 2018

    nonviolence

    noun [non-vahy-uh-luh ns]
    the policy, practice, or technique of refraining from the use of violence, especially when reacting to or protesting against oppression, injustice, discrimination, or the like.
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    What is the origin of nonviolence?

    Nonviolence was first recorded in the 1830s.

    How is nonviolence used?

    At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, 1958

    Fifty years ago, the civil-rights movement understood that nonviolence can be an effective weapon even if—or especially if—the other side refuses to follow suit. Hendrik Hertzberg, "Partisanship, by the Bye," The New Yorker, February 23, 2009

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, January 14, 2018

    vatic

    adjective [vat-ik]
    of, relating to, or characteristic of a prophet.
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    What is the origin of vatic?

    The Latin noun vātis or vātēs “soothsayer, prophet, poet, bard” is probably a borrowing from a Celtic language (it has an exact correspondence in form and meaning with Old Irish fáith “seer, prophet,” from Proto-Celtic wātis). The Latin noun and Celtic root wāt- are from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning “to be spiritually aroused.” One of the Germanic forms of this root appears in the Old English adjective wōd “raging, crazy,” which survives in modern English in the adjective wood. Vatic entered English in the early 17th century.

    How is vatic used?

    ... I can't escape the feeling that Yeats knew, in the vatic, unwitting way of poets. Marcel Theroux, Strange Bodies, 2013

    An ominous vatic feeling had persisted throughout the rest of the evening, which was doubly unsettling to Laurel Manderley ... David Foster Wallace, "Mister Squishy," Oblivion, 2004

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, January 13, 2018

    pseud

    noun [sood]
    Informal. a person of fatuously earnest intellectual, artistic, or social pretensions.
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    What is the origin of pseud?

    Pseud is a derogatory colloquialism derived by shortening from pseudointellectual. It dates from the mid-20th century.

    How is pseud used?

    But many of his students thought him a pseud for his high diction and his passion for complicated European writers. Tobias Wolff, Old School, 2003

    He hated the idea of being considered a pseud when it came to food and drink, but there were those who thought him overenthusiastic on both counts. Tim Heald, Poison at the Pueblo, 2011

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, January 12, 2018

    silver-tongued

    adjective [sil-ver-tuhngd]
    persuasive; eloquent: a silver-tongued orator.
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    What is the origin of silver-tongued?

    Silver-tongued may be named for the pleasing resonance of a silver bell. Even more pleasing and eloquent, therefore, would be chrysostom or chrysostomos “golden-mouthed,” from Greek chrysόstomos, from chrysόs “gold” and stόma “mouth.” As an epithet, chrysostom is reserved for the ancient Greek philosopher and historian Dio (or Dion) Chrysostom (c40–c115 a.d.), but in particular for the Greek patriarch and Church Father John Chrysostom (c347–407). On the first page of Ulysses, the unreliable, malevolent narrator refers to Buck Mulligan, who has gold fillings in his teeth and a very bawdy wit, as chrysostomos. Silver-tongued entered English in the late 16th century.

    How is silver-tongued used?

    "Always speak to the folks in the back rows, my boy," said the silver-tongued orator, "and the rest will be sure to hear you." Paul O'Neil, "Grand Old King of the Senate," Life, March 26, 1965

    The American representatives were not fools, and before accepting such a proposal, they investigated it from all angles, but when they talked with silver-tongued Santa Anna, who knew English well enough to smother them with glibness at any difficult juncture, they convinced themselves that here was a noble patriot who wished only to end a disagreeable war on terms favorable to both sides. James A. Michener, Texas, 1985

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, January 11, 2018

    jannock

    adjective [jan-uh k]
    British, Australian Informal. honest; fair; straightforward.
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    What is the origin of jannock?

    Jannock “honest, straightforward” is a British and Australian word of recent origin and uncertain etymology, first recorded only in the 19th century.

    How is jannock used?

    ... this beautiful damsel that lived in the kingdom of the great Mogul, had many suitors--sweethearts as we call them in Lancashire--but none of them was jannock but one ... Samuel William Ryley, The Itinerant; or, Memoirs of an Actor, Volume VI, 1817

    For instance, it was "scarcely jannock" of your reviewer to suggest that I borrowed part of my plot from some other novelist when he cannot in the nature of things know that I did so. William Westall, "To the Editor of The Speaker," The Speaker, April 26, 1902

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, January 10, 2018

    denouement

    noun [dey-noo-mahn]
    the outcome or resolution of a doubtful series of occurrences.
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    What is the origin of denouement?

    Denouement is from the French word meaning literally “an untying,” equivalent to dénouer “to untie.” It ultimately derives from Latin nōdāre, derivative of nōdus “knot.” It entered English in the mid-1700s.

    How is denouement used?

    Both the irrational-Nixon and the rational-Nixon theories lead to the same denouement: "My fellow Americans ... farewell." Richard Reeves, "Nixon in the Twilight Zone," New York, November 5, 1973

    Yet, inexorably, he must be carried on to the final grim denouement. Every step he took seemed to be charted in advance. Arthur J. Burks, "The White Wasp," All Detective, May 1933

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, January 09, 2018

    suspiration

    noun [suhs-puh-rey-shuh n]
    a long, deep sigh.
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    What is the origin of suspiration?

    English suspiration comes directly from Latin suspīrātiōn-, the stem of the noun suspīrātiō “a sigh,” a derivative of the verb suspīrāre “to fetch a deep breath, breathe out, exclaim with a sigh.” The combining form su- is a reduced form of the preposition and prefix sub “under, from under.” The Latin verb spīrāre “to breathe” is also the source of English spirit and sprite. Suspiration entered English in the 16th century.

    How is suspiration used?

    ‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother … Nor windy suspiration of forced breath ... That can denote me truly. William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1603

    ... the breast dilated and swelled, as when one draws a heavy suspriation; no sound accompanied the motion. "A Soldier's Recollections: A Ghost Story," Tait's Edinburgh Magazine, No. XIII, April 1883

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