• Word of the day
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    Sunday, January 06, 2019

    palladium

    noun [puh-ley-dee-uhm]
    anything believed to provide protection or safety; safeguard.
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    What is the origin of palladium?

    Latin Palladium comes straight from Greek Palládion, a noun use of the adjective Palládios “pertaining to Pallas (Athena),” formed from Pallad-, the stem of Pallas. Pallas may be derived from the Greek verb pállein “to brandish (a weapon).” Palládion was also the name of a small wooden statue of armed Athena that fell from the sky to Troy; possession of this statue ensured the safety of Troy. Palladium entered English in the late 14th century.

    How is palladium used?

    This palladium of our liberties, this charter of our rights, this emblem of Democracy, has been speaking in a voice of thunder, as we knew it would if the people could be aroused from their slumber. "The Ballot Box," Advocate, June 23, 1862

    The abolition of that grand palladium of freedom, the liberty of the press, in the proposed plan of government, and the conduct of its authors, and patrons, is a striking exemplification of these observations. Theodore Dreiser, "Reply to Wilson's Speech: 'Centinel' [Samuel Bryan] II," Freeman's Journal, October 24, 1787

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, January 05, 2019

    douceur

    noun [doo-sur]
    a conciliatory gift or bribe.
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    What is the origin of douceur?

    The French noun douceur “sweetness, a sweet taste,” comes from Late Latin dulcor (stem dulcōr-) with the same meaning. The French noun also means “pleasure, kindness, gift, reward,” and finally “bribe,” much like English sweetener. Douceur entered English in the 14th century.

    How is douceur used?

    And this in spite of the douceur he received at the opening of the campaign. D. A. Bingham, A Selection of Letters and Despatches of the First Napoleon, Volume II, 1884

    Prescott and the other keeper have also received a silver medal and a douceur from the society. Frank Buckland, "The Hippopotamus and Her Baby," Popular Science, May 1873

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, January 04, 2019

    noodle

    verb [nood-l]
    Informal. a. to improvise, experiment, or think creatively: The writers noodled for a week and came up with a better idea for the ad campaign. b. to play; toy: to noodle with numbers as a hobby.
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    What is the origin of noodle?

    The verb noodle “to improvise, think creatively, brainstorm” seems to have originally been American college slang dating from the mid-1940s. Noodle may derive from the German verb nudeln “to sing or play music in a low undertone or in improvisation (as in jazz),” a sense existing in English since the mid-1930s.

    How is noodle used?

    80 percent of surveyed drivers ranked their driving skills as “above average.” Noodle on that one. Tim Herrera, "How to Spot and Overcome Your Hidden Weaknesses," New York Times, April 23, 2018

    On the side, he noodled around with the potentially lucrative idea for a heat pump that would use cheap, abundant water in place of costly environmentally unfriendly refrigerants. "Test yields weapon of mass hydration," The Vindicator, August 9, 1998

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, January 03, 2019

    elevenses

    noun [ih-lev-uhn-ziz]
    British. (usually used with a plural verb) a midmorning break for refreshments.
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    What is the origin of elevenses?

    Elevenses is a British colloquialism, familiar to Americans most likely through reading Tolkien (Bilbo Baggins was keen on elevenses) and P.G. Wodehouse. Elevenses was originally a British dialect word, a double plural of eleven (o’clock); it referred to snacks or light refreshments taken at eleven in the morning (as fourses taken about four in the afternoon.) Elevenses entered English in the 19th century.

    How is elevenses used?

    At other times there were merely lots of people eating and drinking -- continuously from elevenses until six-thirty, when the fireworks started. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954

    The other meals during harvest were breakfast, elevenses, dinner and fourses--in some places elevenses was called 'beaver' or 'cheesing'--but there was a good deal of difference in the local significations of these terms and the times at which the meals were eaten. Thomas Hennell, Change in the Farm, 1934

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, January 02, 2019

    neoteric

    adjective [nee-uh-ter-ik]
    modern; new; recent.
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    What is the origin of neoteric?

    English neoteric comes straight from Late Latin neōtericus, straight from Hellenistic Greek neōterikós “young, youthful, modern (in style).” The Greek root is neo- “new” (newo- in some dialects), akin to Latin novus “new” (from newos), Germanic (English) new, and Slavic (Polish) nowy. The Proto-Indo-European suffix -ter- has several functions, one of them showing naturally occurring pairs, e.g., older and younger (as here), right and left, upper and lower. The Latin suffix -icus is of Proto-Indo-European origin, the same source as Greek -ikós, and Germanic -ig- (German -ig, English -y). The most famous of the Greek neōterikói was the poet and critic Callimachus (c310-c240 b.c.); the most famous Latin neōtericus (and the only one whose works has survived) was Catullus (c84-c54 b.c.). Neoteric entered English in the 16th century.

    How is neoteric used?

    ... they call me a singular, a pedant, fantastic, words of reproach in this age, which is all too neoteric and light for my humour. Charles Lamb, "Fragments from Burton," John Woodvil, 1802

    The temporary purpose may be attained; adherents may be gained for some neoteric doctrine; but the world in general is plunged deeper into error, into the misunderstanding of humanity. Charles F. Horne, The Technique of the Novel, 1908

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, January 01, 2019

    auspicate

    verb [aw-spi-keyt]
    to initiate with ceremonies calculated to ensure good luck; inaugurate.
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    What is the origin of auspicate?

    Romans were addicted to religion, law, and the military (not always sharply differentiated), and no public business could be conducted without first taking the auspices. The basic Latin word is auspex (stem auspic-), literally “bird watcher.” The syllable au- is a reduced form of avi-, the stem of the Latin noun avis “bird”; the suffix -spex means “one who watches or inspects,” a derivative of the verb specere “to observe, watch” (which has many derivatives in English, e.g., expect, inspect, suspect, etc.). The Latin derivative noun auspicium “bird watching” also applied to other forms of divination, e.g., ex caelō, i.e., observing thunder and lightning; ex quadrupedibus, observing the behavior of four-footed animals, e.g. a wolf eating grass; ex dīrīs from observing dreadful, uncanny, or dire signs. There were other forms of auspices too silly to mention, but when the results of public elections were at stake or there was an important, controversial bill being debated in the Senate, why surely the gods had to approve (or not). Auspicate comes from the Latin past participle auspicātus, a derivative of the verb auspicārī “to take the auspices.” Auspicate entered English in the early 17th century.

    How is auspicate used?

    He was soon in great request to deliver addresses and auspicate new ventures … “In Memoriam: Edward Thring,” The Cambridge Review, November 2, 1887

    If we are conscious of our station, and glow with zeal to fill our places as becomes our situation and ourselves, we ought to auspicate all our public proceedings on America with the old warning of the church, Sursum corda! Edmund Burke, Speech of Edmund Burke, Esq. on Moving His Resolutions for Conciliation with the Colonies, 1775

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, December 31, 2018

    totsiens

    interjection [tawt-seenz]
    until we meet again; goodbye.
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    What is the origin of totsiens?

    Totsiens is not a misspelling; in Afrikaans totsiens (tot siens) means “goodbye,” literally “until we see (each other again), au revoir, arrivederci, auf Wiedersehen, do widzenia,” from tot “as far as, until” and sien “see.” Totsiens entered English in the 20th century.

    How is totsiens used?

    Well Paula I will say 'totsiens' for now ... Emma Brockes, She Left Me the Gun, 2013

    Totsiens, Oom, totsiens, Tannie ... You know where we live. Come and see us sometime. Paul-Constant Smit, Gold Never Rusts, 2016

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