Word of the Day

Monday, May 07, 2018

ocellated

[ os-uh-ley-tid, oh-sel-ey-tid ]

adjective

having eyelike spots or markings.

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What is the origin of ocellated?

The English adjective ocellated is a derivative of the Latin noun ocellus “(little) eye,” a diminutive of oculus “eye.” Ocellus is used especially in affectionate language, equivalent to “apple of my eye” or “darling.” As a horticultural term, ocellus means “incision made in the bark for inserting a bud or scion.” The only modern sense of ocellus does not occur in Latin; it is a zoological term meaning “simple eye or light-sensitive organ; a colored spot on birds’ feathers or butterflies” and dates from the 18th century.

how is ocellated used?

… Méline’s nose and eyes are such that you would swear you were looking at an ocellated butterfly, perching on a rosebud.

Éric Chevillard, On the Ceiling, translated by Jordan Stump, 2000

Fantasia was quick to push close the door behind them, although when doing so momentarily trapped the end of the cockbird’s ocellated or ‘eyed’ tail-feathers which, as a consequence, gave the signal for pandemonium to break loose.

Jeremy Mallinson, The Count's Cats, 2004
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Sunday, May 06, 2018

sabulous

[ sab-yuh-luhs ]

adjective

sandy; gritty.

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What is the origin of sabulous?

The English adjective sabulous is a clear-cut borrowing from Latin sabulōsus ”gravelly, sandy,” a derivative of sabulum “coarse sand, gravel.” Sabulum comes from an assumed Italic psaflom. (Italic is the branch of the Indo-European language family that includes Latin, Oscan, Umbrian, and the modern Romance languages.) Psaflom comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root bhes- “to rub” as Greek psêphos “pebble” and Germanic sandam (Old English and English sand, German Sand). Sabulous entered English in the 17h century.

how is sabulous used?

But clearly the beach is also a stage, a studio, indeed an arena, sabulous or otherwise, at the heart of the culture.

Peter D. Osborne, Travelling light, 2000

The plants rose from the stones like a conjurer’s trick, working roots down into hidden pockets of sabulous soil …

Olivia Laing, To the River, 2011
Saturday, May 05, 2018

cinquefoil

[ singk-foil ]

noun

any of several plants belonging to the genus Potentilla, of the rose family, having yellow, red, or white five-petaled flowers, as P. reptans (creeping cinquefoil) of the Old World, or P. argentea (silvery cinquefoil) of North America.

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What is the origin of cinquefoil?

The English noun cinquefoil comes from Middle French cincfoille “five leaves.” Cincfoille corresponds to Latin quīnque folia, a translation of Greek pentáphyllon, literally “five leaves,” and the name of the creeping cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans) or the silvery cinquefoil (P. argentea). Cinquefoil entered English in the 15th century.

how is cinquefoil used?

Cinquefoil, with small yellow blossom, and ranunculus, with glossy yellow cup, edged the sunny roads …

Janet Lewis, The Trial of Sören Qvist, 1947

This was my curious labor all summer,–to make this portion of the earth’s surface, which had yielded only cinquefoil, blackberries, johnswort, and the like, before, sweet wild fruits and pleasant flowers, produce instead this pulse.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854
Friday, May 04, 2018

sith

[ sith ]

adverb, conjunction, preposition

since.

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What is the origin of sith?

In English sith is an archaic or dialect word whose functions as an adverb, preposition, and conjunction have been taken over by since. The Old English siththa is a variant of siththan (originally sīth thām “after that, subsequent to”), an adverbial and prepositional phrase formed from the comparative adverb sīth “subsequently, later” (akin to German seit “since”) and thām, the dative of the demonstrative pronoun, the phrase meaning “subsequent to that, after that.”

how is sith used?

… for ever sith the lord Clisson turned French, he never loved him.

Jean Froissart (1333?– c.1400), The Chronicles of Froissart, translated by John Bourchier, 1523–25

“Of course you see now, Sir Thomas, how ill a match Master John Feversham should have been for Blanche.” “Wherefore?” was the short answer. “Sith he is no longer the heir.”

Emily Sarah Holt, Clare Avery, 1876
Thursday, May 03, 2018

forgetive

[ fawr-ji-tiv, fohr- ]

adjective

Archaic. inventive; creative.

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What is the origin of forgetive?

At first glance forgetive looks like a derivative of forget, to be pronounced with a hard g, accented on the second syllable, and meaning something like “forgetful.” It is, however, a coinage by Shakespeare, and appears in Henry IV, Part 2 (1596-99). Forgetive, obscure in its etymology and meaning, is usually interpreted as a derivation of the verb forge “to beat into shape, form by hammering” and meaning “creative, inventive.”

how is forgetive used?

O quick and forgetive power!

Dante Alighieri (written c. 1308–21), The Vision: or, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, of Dante Alighieri, translated by Henry Francis Cary, 1814

A good sherris-sack hath a two-fold operation in it. It … makes it apprehensive quick, forgetive, full of nimble fiery and delectable shapes …

William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2, 1623
Wednesday, May 02, 2018

pococurante

[ poh-koh-koo-ran-tee, -rahn-, -kyoo- ]

noun

a careless or indifferent person.

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What is the origin of pococurante?

The English noun and adjective pococurante is a straightforward borrowing from Italian, even retaining its Italian pronunciation. Pococurante in both languages means “caring little, indifferent.” The first element poco in Italian is an indefinite adjective and adverb meaning “little, a little,” descended from the Latin adjective paucus “few” (the Latin adjective is related to Gothic fawai, Old English fēawe, and Middle English fewe, all plural adjectives of indefinite quantity meaning “few”). The Italian adjective curante is the present participle of the verb curare (the Latin forms are cūrant- and cūrāre) “to watch over, look after, cure.” The Latin verb is a derivative of the noun cūra “worry, concern, object of care,” of unknown etymology. Pococurante entered English in the 18th century.

how is pococurante used?

“I believe you are misinformed, sir,” said Jekyl dryly, and then resumed as deftly as he could, his proper character of a pococurante.

Sir Walter Scott, St. Ronan's Well, 1823

Calling a careless person a “pococurante” or other fancy name will not, by the precision of the term, suddenly make the careless careful.

Jeff VanderMeer, The Third Bear, 2010
Tuesday, May 01, 2018

tussie-mussie

[ tuhs-ee-muhs-ee ]

noun

a small bunch of flowers or herbs.

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What is the origin of tussie-mussie?

There is no clear etymology for tussie-mussie “bunch of flowers, nosegay.” The Middle English form, tusemose, and the 17th-century form tussimussie, suggest an assumed Middle English tus or tusse “cluster of flowers.” Tussie-mussie entered English in the mid-15th century.

how is tussie-mussie used?

The world would be a kinder and gentler place if we all exchanged tussie-mussies instead of badmouthing people behind their backs or unfriending them on Facebook.

Claire Cook, The Wildwater Walking Club: Back on Track, 2017

When those were finished, they turned to the tussie-mussies–handheld herbal nosegays in which each plant has a special significance–for the women guests.

Susan Wittig Albert, Lavender Lies, 1999

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