Word of the Day

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

otiose

[ oh-shee-ohs, oh-tee- ]

adjective

being at leisure; idle; indolent.

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What is the origin of otiose?

The many meanings of the English adjective otiose are pretty much the same as the Latin original, ōtiōsus. Ōtiōsus means “not busy with business or politics, leisurely, avoiding work or action, ineffectual, useless, peaceable, tranquil, vacant (land or public office).” Ōtiōsus is a derivative of the noun ōtium “spare time, leisure time, time off (from work or the army), inactivity, idleness, holiday, vacation, ease, rest, peace and tranquility.” Otiose entered English in the late 18th century.

how is otiose used?

He was habitually otiose. Lounging in his relax-a-chair was his favorite occupation.

Ellie Grossman, "The Grammar Guru: Some words are too big for their britches," The Blade, September 27, 2001

There is nothing more idle than ten-best or ten-worst lists, and it would be utterly rash and otiose to pick the most overrated playwrights of the American thirties; the real trick would be to find a single underrated one.

John Simon, "Raggle-Taggle Rundown," New York, March 19, 1984
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Monday, May 27, 2019

decoration

[ dek-uh-rey-shuhn ]

noun

a badge, medal, etc., conferred and worn as a mark of honor: a decoration for bravery.

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What is the origin of decoration?

English decoration is a straightforward borrowing from Late Latin decorātiō (inflectional stem decorātiōn-) “adornment, ornament,” a derivative of the verb decorāre. Decorāre in turn derives from decor– (inflectional stem of decus) “an ornament, splendor, honor.” Decus is related to the verbs decēre “to be acceptable, be fitting” and docēre “to teach,” i.e., “to make fitting.” Decoration entered English in the 16th century.

how is decoration used?

He was later awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration ….

Harrison Smith, "Howard Lee, Medal of Honor recipient who led a long-odds defense, dies at 85," Washington Post, March 31, 2019

In short order, White won a Rhodes scholarship, became the best-paid player of his era in the National Football League and its rushing champion and earned decorations for his wartime Navy service.

Laura Kalman, "John Kennedy's Nonconformist," New York Times, August 23, 1998
Sunday, May 26, 2019

seriatim

[ seer-ee-ey-tim, ser- ]

adverb, adjective

in a series; one after another.

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What is the origin of seriatim?

The English adverb seriatim “one after another, in a series,” comes directly from the Medieval Latin adverb seriātim, which has the same meaning. Seriātim is composed of the Latin noun seriēs “line, series” and the adverb suffix –ātim, extracted from Latin adverbs like gradātim “by steps, ascending or descending gradually,” and certātim “in rivalry, emulously.” The suffix is a useful one, forming adverbs like literātim “literally, letter for letter, literatim,” and verbātim “literally, word for word, verbatim.” Seriatim entered English in the late 15th century.

how is seriatim used?

I’ve been reading all the “Doonesbury” strips from the fall of 1976 through January of 1980, seriatim.

Rick Perlstein, "Rick Perlstein: By the Book," New York Times, August 28, 2014

This is no place to list his achievements, nor need his failures be set down seriatim.

"President Taft," The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 109, 1912

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