Word of the Day

Friday, November 20, 2020

obstreperous

[ uhb-strep-er-uhs ]

adjective

noisy, clamorous, or boisterous.

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What is the origin of obstreperous?

Obstreperous “noisy, clamorous” comes straight from the Latin adjective obstreperus, a derivative of the verb obstrepere “to make (a loud) noise against.” Obstrepere is a compound of the preposition and prefix ob, ob– “toward, against” and the simple verb strepere “to make a loud noise (of any kind), shout confusedly, clamor.” The facetious, almost comic adjective obstropolous, in existence since the first half of the 18th century, is a variant of obstreperous. Unfortunately there is no further etymology for strepere. Obstreperous entered English at the beginning of the 17th century.

how is obstreperous used?

I could not have been the only one in that obstreperous crowd, made up overwhelmingly of Michiganders, to know the presumably important fact that, well…those car plants didn’t exist.

Mark Danner, "The Con He Rode In On," New York Review of Books, November 19, 2020

For one critic, the final movement [of Beethoven’s Ninth] was sometimes “exceedingly imposing and effective” but its “Szforzandos, Crescendos, Accelerandos, and many other Os” would “call up from their peaceful graves… Handel and Mozart, to witness and deplore the obstreperous roarings of modern frenzy in their art”.

Emily Bootle, "The many Beethoven myths," New Statesman, July 22, 2020

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

imagineer

[ ih-maj-uh-neer ]

noun

a person who is skilled in implementing creative ideas into practical form.

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What is the origin of imagineer?

There must be many millions of people who watched the TV show The Mickey Mouse Club, which began airing in 1955, and these same fans of The Mickey Mouse Club may also associate the word imagineer with the designers of Walt Disney’s theme parks (the original Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California, in 1955). Imagineer, a blend of imagine and engineer, however, predates Disneyland by a good dozen years, first appearing in print on 1 June 1942, just before the Battle of Midway, in the very darkest days of World War II, in an upbeat advertisement, “Postwar America … will be a great day for Imagineers.”

how is imagineer used?

those who have followed this major imagineer since early baroque efforts like “Veniss Underground” and “Shriek: An Afterword,” or who know his lavish craft guide, “Wonderbook” … won’t find Aurora and its denizens to be such a departure.

Laird Hunt, "Jeff VanderMeer's Young Adult Novel Is a Madcap Magical Mash-Up," New York Times, July 7, 2020

Bernie and Connie Karl are imagineers who make good things happen in Fairbanks and throughout the state of Alaska.

, "Imagine That: Bernie and Connie Karl Recognized for deeds and their passion for Fairbanks," Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, December 13, 2019

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

willyard

[ wil-yerd ]

adjective

Scot. and North England.

obstinate; willful.

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What is the origin of willyard?

Willyard (also spelled willyart) “obstinate, willful” is yet another Scots word designed to confound the English. Even the first syllable, will-, is misleading: it is not the English auxiliary verb will, used, for example, to form the future tense; nor is it the English noun will “the mental faculty, desire, purpose”; it is from the Old Norse adjective villr (stem vill-) “wild, false, bewildered, erring, perplexed, uncertain.” The second syllable, –yard or –yart, is anybody’s guess. Robert Burns uses the word once, “But, O! for Hogarth’s magic pow’r, / To shew Sir Bardie’s willyart glowr” (1786), which guarantees the word’s survival; Sir Walter Scott also used the word in his Heart of Mid-Lothian (1818). Willyard entered English toward the end of the 16th century.

how is willyard used?

“Uh! uh! uh!” ejaculated Dumbiedikes, as he checked the hobbling pace of the pony by our friend Butler. “Uh! uh! it’s a hard-set willyard beast this o’ mine.”

Sir Walter Scott, The Heart of Midlothian, 1818

His disposition resembled that of the famous animal who carried Dumbiedikes so long and so well, but of whom Jeanie Deans remarked that he was willyard.

"Four Fair Nieces," Townsend's Monthly Selection of Parisian Costumes, March 1878

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