Word of the Day

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

osmatic

[ oz-mat-ik ]

adjective

of or relating to the sense of smell.

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What is the origin of osmatic?

Osmatic, “relating to the sense of smell or to animals with a keen sense of smell,” is a borrowing from French osmatique, which was coined by the 19th-century French surgeon and anthropologist Paul Broca in 1878. Osmatique derives from the Greek noun osmḗ (also odmḗ) “smell, odor, scent” and the French adjectival suffix -atique, from the same source as the English suffix –atic. Osmḗ is the classical Attic form of earlier and dialectal odmḗ, from a root od- “to smell” and is closely related to Latin odor “a smell, odor, whiff, hint.” Osmatic entered English in 1880.

how is osmatic used?

Each of our senses diminish their acuity at a slightly different rate as we fall off to sleep. Our auditive, osmatic, thermal, and tactile responses become seemingly dormant …

Richard Neutra, Nature Near: The Late Essays of Richard Neutra, 1989

Osmatic messages permit recognition of others as individuals or as members of a social category, or signal a certain emotional state.

Guy Ankerl, Experimental Sociology of Architecture, 1981

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Monday, June 08, 2020

alligate

[ al-i-geyt ]

verb (used with object)

Obsolete.

to attach; bind.

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What is the origin of alligate?

The rare verb alligate comes from Latin alligātus, the past participle of alligāre “to tie, tie up, tie together,” especially in the combination or mixture of elements of different qualities or values. Alligate entered English in the 16th century.

how is alligate used?

light weight of truth, spun out to cob-web tenuity, might be alligated with fancies and spangled with glittering fallacies, the whole bearing the name of homeopathy …

, "Article XII," American Journal of Dental Science, Vol. 4, July 1854

We are not, dear sisters, called to go into the field of battle and expose our lives to the devouring sword; but we are alligated by every principle of religion and virtue to mourn the sins which render these calamities necessary …

Mary Webb, "An Address from the Boston Female Society for Missionary Purposes to Females Professing Godliness," Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine, March 1813

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Sunday, June 07, 2020

Croesus

[ kree-suhs ]

noun

a very rich man.

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What is the origin of Croesus?

Croesus comes from Latin Croesus, from Greek Kroîsos (the name has no further etymology). Croesus, who lived from about 595 b.c. to 546 b.c., was the last king of fabulously wealthy Lydia, an ancient kingdom that occupied much of modern western Turkey. (Croesus issued the first gold coins of standardized quality and weight, and the Greeks adopted coinage from the Lydians). For the ancient Greeks (e.g., for the poet Sappho), Sardis, the capital of Lydia, was the equivalent of the Paris of today, elegant and stylish. Croesus was also remarkable for the Greeks because of his philhellenism: he embellished Greek temples in Ionia and made many offerings to the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. The death of Croesus, possibly burnt alive on a pyre on the orders of Cyrus the Great, was profoundly shocking to the Greeks: how could a man of such piety come to such a brutal end? Croesus entered English at the end of the 14th century.

how is Croesus used?

Apple’s share price fell by 8% yesterday, wiping more than $40bn off its value in a few hours. Is the world falling out of love with the Croesus of Cupertino?

Steve Rose, "A brief guide to everything that's annoying about Apple," The Guardian, April 27, 2016

One of our countrymen, Mr. Cockerell, appears to be considered the manufacturing Croesus of these parts, and his name is that which is generally mentioned by the obsequious valets-de-place ….

Robert Clouston, Letters from Germany and Belgium, 1839

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Saturday, June 06, 2020

jury-rig

[ joo r-ee-rig ]

verb (used with object)

to assemble quickly or from whatever is at hand, especially for temporary use: to jury-rig stage lights using automobile headlights.

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What is the origin of jury-rig?

Jury-rig, “to assemble quickly with whatever is at hand, improvise, especially for temporary use,” is of obscure origin, but probably originally a nautical term, based on another, earlier nautical term jury-mast, “a temporary mast on a sailing vessel replacing a damaged or destroyed mast,” first recorded in 1617. Jury-rig is close enough in meaning and sound to jerry- in jerry-build (and its derivatives jerry-builder and jerry-built) “to build or make in a haphazard, slovenly fashion,” and the confusion of those terms resulted in the hybrid verb jerry-rig, first recorded about 1960. (There are people in south Jersey and Philadelphia who pronounce ferry as furry and color as keller.) But jerry-build and jerry-rig always imply flimsiness and shoddiness; jury-rig implies improvisation. Jury-rig entered English in the second half of the 18th century.

how is jury-rig used?

She told the school custodian that her bike handlebars were all screwed up and that she needed some duct tape to juryrig it until she got home.

Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes, 2007

New problems arose all the time, and the engineers were forever improvising ways to jury-rig a component or bypass a system.

Ken Follett, Code to Zero, 2000

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Friday, June 05, 2020

shambolic

[ sham-bol-ik ]

adjective

Chiefly British Informal.

very disorganized; messy or confused: I’ve had a shambolic year, the worst ever.

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What is the origin of shambolic?

Shambolic, “disorganized; messy or confused,” is a colloquial adjective, used mostly by the British. The word is a combination of shambles and symbolic. Shambolic is a fairly recent coinage, entering English about 1970.

how is shambolic used?

a programme to train thousands of contact-tracers to help control the spread of coronavirus has been described as shambolic and inadequate by recruits.

Frances Perraudin, "'No one had any idea': Contact tracers lack knowledge about Covid-19 job," The Guardian, May 20, 2020

If democratic procedures start to seem shambolic, then democratic ideas will seem questionable as well.

Timothy Snyder, "How a Russian Fascist Is Meddling in America's Election," New York Times, September 20, 2016

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Thursday, June 04, 2020

caseous

[ key-see-uhs ]

adjective

of or like cheese.

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What is the origin of caseous?

The English adjective caseous derives from the Latin noun cāseus “cheese,” which in Latin comedy (Plautus), at least, is used as a term of endearment: molliculus cāseus “delicate cheese.” (Molliculus is a diminutive of the adjective mollis “soft.” Diminutives are characteristic of colloquial Latin, and therefore of comedy, and also exist in modern Romance languages, e.g., Italian orecchio “ear,” from auricula, a diminutive of auris “ear.”) The etymology of cāseus is unknown, but it may come from earlier, unrecorded kwātsos, meaning “something runny,” from the Proto-Indo-European root kwat- “to ferment; be, become, or make sour.” If that is so, cāseus may be related to Russian kvas “sour beer,” and Polish kwas “acid.” Caseous entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is caseous used?

Second, eat these little caseous balloons immediately—like topical plays, they lose value every couple of minutes.

Jonathan Reynolds, "Say Cheese Balls," New York Times, September 30, 2001

I have no doubt but that in the process of churning the whole milk there is a large amount of lactic acid formed, and a much higher temperature attained, than in the churning of cream; consequently, the separation of caseous matter must be more perfectly effected in the former than in the latter case.

Charles A. Cameron, The Stock-Feeder's Manual: The Chemistry of Food in Relation to the Breeding and Feeding of Live Stock, 1868

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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

glower

[ glou-er ]

verb (used without object)

to look or stare with sullen dislike, discontent, or anger.

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What is the origin of glower?

The verb glower, “to look or stare with sullen dislike,” comes from Middle English gloren, glouren “to shine, gleam, glow; stare, stare at fixedly.” The Middle English forms are mostly from the north (Yorkshire) and Scotland; the sense “to stare at fixedly” is Scottish. The source of gloren and glouren is obscure, but possibly Scandinavian, e.g., Icelandic glóra “to glow (like a cat’s eyes)” and Swedish and Norwegian dialect glora “to glow, stare.” The source of gloren, glouren may also be from Middle Low German glūren “to be overcast” or Dutch glueren “to leer, peep.” Glower entered English in the 15th century.

how is glower used?

Alfred glowered at us as if he never could, or would, forgive the injury of that night.

Charles Dickens, Bleak House, 1853

Angela was dismayed: was she sure she knew the way back? Of course she knew it, Cecilia said, glowering. She wasn’t an idiot.

Tessa Hadley, "Cecilia Awakened," The New Yorker, September 10, 2018

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