Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

normcore

[ nawrm-kawr, -kohr ]

noun

a fashion style or way of dressing characterized by ordinary, plain clothing with no designer names, often a reaction against trendy fashion.

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What is the origin of normcore?

Normcore has the unpleasant feel of a neologism such as doublethink in George Orwell’s novel 1984. Normcore may be formed from norm (“a standard, the average level”) or normal (“conforming to a standard”); core may simply be from core (“essential part”) or be a shortening of hard-core (“uncompromising”). Normcore entered English in 2014.

how is normcore used?

At first, I spotted just occasional forays into normcore: the rare cool kid wearing clothes as lukewarm as the last sips of deli coffee—mock turtlenecks with Tevas and Patagonia windbreakers; Uniqlo khakis with New Balance sneakers or Crocs and souvenir-stand baseball caps.

Fiona Duncan, "Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They're One in 7 Billion," New York, February 26, 2014

Never mind that she’s royalty, Kate is in the vanguard of something that’s a bit like normcore (deliberately dressing in an untrendy way), only bigger and broader, which henceforth shall be known as Katenorm.

Shane Watson, "The Duchess of Cambridge's new relaxed style is like a royal version of 'normcore'," Telegraph, June 14, 2018
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Word of the day

Monday, August 06, 2018

chevelure

[ shev-uh-loor ]

noun

a head of hair.

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What is the origin of chevelure?

The pronunciation of English chevelure, accented on the final syllable, reveals the still unnaturalized status of the word after nearly six centuries. Chevelure looks like–and is–a French word meaning “head of hair, wig.” In Old French the word was spelled cheveleüre, from Latin capillātūra “hairlike flaw in a gem or gemstone,” a derivative of the adjective capillātus “longhaired,” itself a derivative of capillus “the hair on the head” (and like English hair a collective noun). Chevelure entered English in the 15th century.

how is chevelure used?

The arrangement of this chevelure is performed for the chiefs by professional barbers, and is a work of great labour. Six hours are sometimes occupied in dressing a head; and the process is repeated at intervals of two or three weeks.

Robert Gordon Latham, The Natural History of the Varieties of Man, 1850

… time has stolen away his raven locks, and given him a chevelure of snow instead.

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, The Mysterious Lodger, 1850

Word of the day

Sunday, August 05, 2018

vespine

[ ves-pahyn, -pin ]

adjective

of or relating to wasps.

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What is the origin of vespine?

English vespine is a straightforward borrowing from the Latin noun vespa “wasp” plus the adjective suffix -ine, from Latin -īnus, and one could reasonably–but wrongly–conclude that wespā was the original Proto-Indo-European word for wasp. The original form was wepsā, wopsā, and Latin and English (among other languages) simply metathesized (or transposed) the consonants. Old English has many different forms for the insect: wæfs, wæps, wæsp, etc. The other Germanic languages also display the -ps- and -sp- forms. Outside Germanic, the extremely conservative Baltic languages have vapsvà (Lithuanian) and wobse (Old Prussian), both meaning “wasp.” The Baltic forms, especially the Old Prussian, also show more clearly the Proto-Indo-European root behind wasp and vespa: webh-, wobh- “to weave” (from the nests that wasps construct). Vespine entered English in the 19th century.

how is vespine used?

From above the cubicles looked like a magnified insect battery, a nest uncovered by mistake, a glimpse of geometrically precise rows of pods, lines of tiny vespine heads, shining with black Sony ovals, trembling with larval energy on T-shirt thoraces.

Rana Dasgupta, Tokyo Cancelled, 2005

The trees had turned a vespine yellow, as if trying to terrify what would eat them.

Bennett Sims, A Questionable Shape, 2013

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