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

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