Word of the Day

Thursday, May 31, 2018

palpebral

[ pal-puh-bruhl, pal-pee-bruhl, -peb-ruhl ]

adjective

of or relating to the eyelids.

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What is the origin of palpebral?

The Latin noun palpebra (also palpebrum) “eyelid” is composed of the verb palpāre “to touch, stroke, caress” and -brum, a suffix forming nouns of instruments, e.g., candēlābrum “a stand for holding several candles, candelabra.” Palpāre derives from a complicated Proto-Indo-European root pāl- (from peǝl-) and its many variants, e.g., pel-, pelǝ-, plē-, etc. “to touch, feel, flutter, float.” A palpebra is “something that flutters (quickly).” The root is also the source of Latin palpitāre “(of a pulse) to beat, pulsate,” pāpiliō “butterfly, moth,” and Old English fēlan “to examine by touch,” English feel. Palpebral entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is palpebral used?

adrift on a gold-brown leather recliner, / the little finger of her left hand tapping / on the crocheted antimacassar, / palpebral twitches of chronic hypnagogia.

Rodney Jones, "Requiem for Reba Portis," Village Prodigies, 2017

In his palpebral vision, she beckoned.

Richard Fariña, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me, 1966
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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

mump

[ muhmp, moomp ]

verb

to sulk; mope.

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What is the origin of mump?

The rare English verb mump is akin to the equally rare Dutch mompen “to mumble, grumble,” and the magnificent German verbs mumpfen “to chew with one’s mouth full” and mimpfeln “to mumble while eating.” The Germanic verbs most likely derive from a Proto-Indo-European root meuǝ- “be silent,” from which English also derives mum “silent,” Latin mūtus “silent, mute,” and Greek mustḗrion “secret rite, mystery,” a derivative of mústēs “an initiate,” a derivative of mueîn “to initiate, instruct, teach,” itself a derivative of múein “to close the eyes, mouth, or other opening” (lest one reveal what is not to be revealed). Mump entered English in the 16th century.

how is mump used?

Up, Dullard! It is better service to enjoy a novel than to mump.

Robert Louis Stevenson, "Letter to his Mother, December 30, 1883" Selected Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, 1997

Come, my dear fellow, do not spoil the excellent impression you have already made. I am sure to mump and moan is not in you …

John Collis Snaith, The Wayfarers, 1902
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

excogitate

[ eks-koj-i-teyt ]

verb

to think out; devise; invent.

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What is the origin of excogitate?

Excogitate comes from Latin excōgitātus, the past participle of excōgitāre meaning “to devise, invent, think out.” It entered English in the 1520s.

how is excogitate used?

I wouldn’t put the question to you for the world, and expose you to the inconvenience of having to … excogitate an answer.

Henry James, Washington Square, 1880

The average politician knows fully as little or as much about railway management as he does about photographing the moon or applying the solar spectrum; yet, once upon a board of railway commissioners, he is required to excogitate and frame rules for an industry which not only supplies the financial arteries of a continent, but holds the lives as well as the credits of its citizens dependent upon the click of a telegraph or the angle of a semaphore …

Appleton Morgan, "The Political Control of Railways: Is It Confiscation?" Popular Science Monthly, February 1889

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