• Word of the day
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    Thursday, December 13, 2018

    nummary

    adjective [nuhm-uh-ree]
    of or relating to coins or money.
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    What is the origin of nummary?

    The adjective nummary comes straight from Latin nummārius “pertaining to coins or money,” a derivative of nummus (also nūmus), the name of several silver or gold coins. The Latin nouns come from noûmmos “current coin” in a western Doric Greek dialect spoken in southern Italy and Sicily and equivalent to Greek nómos “law, custom, something in customary or habitual use.” Nummary entered English in the early 17th century.

    How is nummary used?

    ... Re-coinages, which had the same Effect in depreciating nummary Denominations in France, that frequent and large Emissions of Paper-Money have in our Colonies ... William Douglass, "A Discourse Concerning the Currencies of the British Plantations in America," 1740

    His capital does not have a numerical or nummary value, but it nonetheless has a value, if only in the sustenance he gets out of putting it to productive use. Manu Saadia, Trekonomics, 2016

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, December 12, 2018

    lardy-dardy

    adjective [lahr-dee-dahr-dee]
    Chiefly British Slang. characterized by excessive elegance.
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    What is the origin of lardy-dardy?

    Pity that one doesn’t see as many lardy-dardy types as formerly—affected swells, languid fops, chichi dandies lounging about music halls and theaters. Lardy-dardy entered English in the 1850s, at the height of the Victorian era. It is often said to be the British aristos’ non-rhotic (“r-less”) Received Pronunciation of la-di-da—a nice story except that lardy-dardy predates la-di-da by nearly 20 years.

    How is lardy-dardy used?

    "Good afternoon!" -- in rather lardy-dardy, middle-class English. "I wonder if I may see your things in your studio." D. H. Lawrence, The Captain's Doll, 1923

    It was exaggerated flattery he always felt provoked and disgusted with. Such absurd palaver, and lardy-dardy talk as that of his grand mover and seconder. F. A. J., "Greaswick for Coalheavers': or, The Alderman's Election" The Amateur's Magazine, 1859

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, December 11, 2018

    ahistorical

    adjective [ey-hi-stawr-i-kuhl, -stor-i-kuhl]
    without concern for history or historical development; indifferent to tradition.
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    What is the origin of ahistorical?

    The formation of the adjective ahistorical is clear: the first syllable, a-, is a variety of the Greek prefix an-, a- “not” (an-, a- is from the same Proto-Indo-European source as English un-). Historical is a derivative of Greek historía “learning or knowing by inquiry, history,” a derivative of hístōr “one who knows or sees,” akin to English wit and Latin vidēre “to see,” and the Latin suffix -al, with the general sense “of the kind of, pertaining to, having the form or character of” that named by the stem. Ahistorical entered English in the 20th century.

    How is ahistorical used?

    The notion that all human history – and all human societies – can be shoehorned into a simple binary scheme is not new ... But it is always simplistic, ahistorical, and therefore wrong. Alan Knight, "Tight/loose cultures theory is simplistic and ahistorical," The Guardian, September 18, 2018

    The boxlike room, stripped of all embellishment or parlor fussiness, a room that wished to be timeless or ahistorical, and there, in the middle of it, my deeply historical, timeworn grandmother. Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex, 2002

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, December 10, 2018

    logogriph

    noun [law-guh-grif, log-uh-]
    an anagram, or a puzzle involving anagrams.
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    What is the origin of logogriph?

    A logogriph is a special kind of word puzzle in which a word, and other words formed from any or all of its letters, must be guessed from hints given in verses. Lógos is well known in English: the first, most obvious of its many, many meanings is “word,” as in the prologue to St. John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word (Lógos).” The combining form logo- is very common in Greek (e.g., logopoieîn “to compose, write speeches,” logoprageîn “to write copiously”) and in English (e.g., logocentrism and logorrhea). The tricky word is grîphos (its variant grîpos shows it is not a native Greek word). Grîphos means “(woven) fishing basket, creel,” and metaphorically “something intricate, dark saying, riddle; forfeit paid for failing to guess a riddle.” Grîphos by itself would have been sufficient; adding the combining form logo- specifies its meaning. Logogriph entered English in the late 16th century.

    How is logogriph used?

    He was most anxious to secure for himself the priority of discovery, and yet he was unwilling to make a premature and possibly incorrect announcement. So he resorted to the ingenious device of a "logogriph," or puzzle. It appears ... as follows: aaaaaaa ccccc d eeeee g h iiiiiii llll mm nnnnnnnnn oooo pp q rr s ttttt uuuuu Harold Jacoby, Astronomy: A Popular Handbook, 1913

    That one man should have possessions beyond the capacity of extravagance to squander, and another, able and willing to work, should perish for want of embers, rags and a crust, renders society unintelligible. It makes the charter of human rights a logogriph. John J. Ingalls, “John J. Ingalls on the Social Malady,” Sunday Herald, June 11, 1893

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, December 09, 2018

    rutilant

    adjective [root-l-uhnt]
    glowing or glittering with ruddy or golden light.
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    What is the origin of rutilant?

    It is one thing to see greatly varying descendants of Proto-Indo-European words in its daughter languages, as for instance in the very common (and easy to handle) Proto-Indo-European root bher-, bhor- “to carry, bear, bear children,” which appears as bhar- in Sanskrit, pher- in Greek, fer- in Latin, and ber- in Slavic, Armenian, and Germanic (English bear). It is another thing to see wildly variant forms of a Proto-Indo-European root within one language, but Latin offers a good example from the Proto-Indo-European root reudh-, roudh-, rudh- “red.” (The root variant roudh- becomes raud- in Germanic, rēad in Old English (the ēa is a diphthong from au) and red in English.) Roudh- is also the source of Latin rūfus, a dialect word meaning “red, tawny” and also a proper name “Red” (rufous and Rufus in English). Roudh- also yields Latin rōbus “red (of oxen and other animals)," rōbur “oak, red oak" (the adjective rōbustus "of oak, oaken, strong” becomes robust in English). The root variant rudh- yields Latin ruber “red,” rutilus “glowing red,” with its derivative verb rutilāre "to glow with a bright red or golden color,” whose present participle stem rutilant- becomes English rutilant. Rutilant entered English in the 15th century.

    How is rutilant used?

    Sometimes, when reading one of his works, I wonder whether Mr. Lawrence has not mistaken his medium, and whether it is not a painter he ought to have been, so significant is for him the slaty opalescence of the heron's wing and so rutilant the death of the sun. W. L. George, "Three Young Novelists," Literary Chapters, 1918

    She looks up occasionally, between cross stitches, to gaze upon the steady stream of tourists stopping to admire the rutilant, shimmering sandstone folds unfurling 4,000 feet below. Sam McManis, "Discoveries: Grand Canyon's South Rim crowded but not overbearing," Sacramento Bee, July 25, 2015

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, December 08, 2018

    trimming

    noun [trim-ing]
    anything used or serving to decorate or complete: the trimmings of a Christmas tree.
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    What is the origin of trimming?

    It is quite a jump to go from Byrhtnoth, Ealdorman of Essex, arranging his men in battle order (trymian) against the Vikings (recorded in the magnificent Old English poem The Battle of Maldon) to cranberry sauce and creamed onions with the Thanksgiving turkey. The Old English adjective trum “strong, firm” is the source of the verb trymian, trymman “to encourage, strengthen, prepare.” The Old English noun trymming, derived from the verb, means “strengthening, confirmation, edification, establishment.” The modern spelling trimming first appears in the first half of the 16th century with several meanings. One is “the repair or preparation of equipment, especially fitting out of a ship,” e.g., “trimming of the sails.” A second sense, all but contemporaneous with the first, is “adornment, dressing one’s hair or beard, dressing up.” A third sense of trimming, perhaps associated with the notion of dressing (up), is “a rebuke, a beating,” that is, “a dressing down.” In the early 17th century, trimming, especially in the plural, and typically in the phrase "all the trimmings," meant “ordinary accessories (as for a house or cooked meat).” In the early 19th century, trimming acquired the meaning “pieces cut off, cuttings, scraps.”

    How is trimming used?

    It was after eleven when William in his socks made his way to the attic where the trimmings for the tree were stored. Mary Roberts Rinehart, "The Butler's Christmas Eve," Alibi for Isabel, 1944

    Painting china, carving wood, button-holing butterflies and daisies onto Turkish towelling, and making peacock-feather trimming, amused her for a time ... Louisa May Alcott, "What Becomes of the Pins," Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag, Volume 5: Jimmy's Cruise in the Pinafore, Etc., 1879

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, December 07, 2018

    scrooch

    verb [skrooch]
    Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. to crouch, squeeze, or huddle (usually followed by down, in, or up).
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    What is the origin of scrooch?

    Scrooch “to crouch, squeeze, huddle” was originally a U.S. colloquial and dialect word. It is probably a variant of scrouge “to squeeze, crowd,” itself a blend of the obsolete verb scruze “to squeeze” and gouge. To make things even more unclear, scruze itself is a blend of screw and bruise. Scrooch entered English in the 19th century.

    How is scrooch used?

    When you want to get up again, you sort of scrooch forward and the chair comes up straight so you don't have to dislocate your sciatica trying to get out of the pesky thing. Charlotte MacLeod, Something the Cat Dragged In, 1984

    Myr Korso, please tell him to scrooch down if he has to be there. James Tiptree, Jr., Brightness Falls from the Air, 1985

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