Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

palaver

[ puh-lav-er, ‐lah-ver ]

noun

profuse and idle talk; chatter.

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What is the origin of palaver?

Palaver, “profuse and idle talk; chatter,” comes from Portuguese palavra “word, talk, speech” by way of sailors’ slang. Portuguese was commonly used as a trading language on the West African coast, and palaver came into English first in the sense “a parley or conference, typically between Europeans and the Indigenous people of a region, especially in West Africa.” Portuguese palavra and its Castilian counterpart palabra come from Latin parabola “comparison, explanatory illustration,” and in Late Latin (and especially in Christian Latin), “allegorical story, parable, proverb.” Metathesis, the transposition of consonants, is common in Spanish and Portuguese: the syncopated form parabla (from parabola) becomes palavra in Portuguese and palabra in Spanish, just as Latin mirāculum “miracle” becomes milagro in Spanish and milagre in Portuguese. Palaver entered English in the early 18th century.

how is palaver used?

Spend enough time at Westminster, and you will hear endless palaver about breeding and bloodlines, coat color, the correct angle for the shoulder and hip—formalities that serve as a justification for people being completely gonzo over their animals.

Judith Newman, "The Stars (and Stage Moms) of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show," New York Times, February 16, 2017

All the while in the background, from cocktail palaver to prominent blogs, there were questions about the bona fides of political appointees in the PTO leadership, some of whose backgrounds ran deep in politics and shallow on patents.

Terry Carter, "A Patent on Problems," ABA Journal, March 1, 2010

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Word of the day

Monday, May 24, 2021

lacustrine

[ luh-kuhs-trin ]

adjective

of or relating to a lake.

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What is the origin of lacustrine?

The adjective lacustrine, “relating to a lake; living or growing in lakes,” is a technical term used in geology (lacustrine strata, lacustrine deltas) and biology (lacustrine plants, lacustrine fauna). Lacustrine comes from French or Italian lacustre “relating to a lake” and the naturalized English adjective suffix –ine. The French and Italian adjectives are irregularly formed from Latin lacus “lake, pond, pool,” and the Latin adjective suffix –estris, –estre, on the analogy of Latin palustris, palustre “swampy, marshy,” formed from palūs “swamp, fen.” Lacustrine entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is lacustrine used?

Adapting to a new era of water scarcity will require enormous investments in integrated water management, particularly in the developing world. This would include … clarifying rights to the use of subterranean, riverine, and lacustrine water resources ….

Stewart M. Patrick, "Not a Drop to Drink: The Global Water Crisis," Council on Foreign Relations, May 8, 2012

The remains of another lake village have just been brought to light at Lorcas by the shrinkage of the waters of the Lake of Bienne. This appears to be one of the most interesting discoveries of the sort we have had for some time, rich as have been the last few weeks in notable lacustrine finds.

"A New Lacustrine Village," New York Times, December 29, 1878

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Word of the day

Sunday, May 23, 2021

dentifrice

[ den-tuh-fris ]

noun

a paste, powder, liquid, or other preparation for cleaning the teeth.

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What is the origin of dentifrice?

Dentifrice, “a paste or other preparation for cleaning the teeth,” comes via Middle French from Latin dentifricium, a compound of denti-, the stem and combining form of dens “tooth,” and –fricium, a derivative of the verb fricāre “to rub, chafe, massage.” The Romans made a dentifrice of the ashes of murex shells, which is not recommended by the American Dental Association. Dentifrice entered English in the first half of the 15th century.

how is dentifrice used?

The feverish marketing race in the dentifrice industry is continuing. The Colgate-Palmolive Company is the latest entrant to come up with something new—toothpaste in an aerosol container.

Carl Spielvogel, "Advertising: Aerosol Toothpaste Container," New York Times, January 20, 1958

Her most striking feature was her radiant operatic smile, which she claimed to maintain through the use of a pink dentifrice called Toreador.

Francine du Plessix Gray, Them: A Memoir of Parents, 2005

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