Word of the Day

Thursday, April 16, 2020

panacea

[ pan-uh-see-uh ]

noun

an answer or solution for all problems or difficulties: His economic philosophy is a good one, but he tries to use it as a panacea.

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What is the origin of panacea?

Panacea comes from Latin panacēa, which had the same meanings of the Greek original, panákeia “universal remedy; the name of a healing plant and its juice.” Panákeia is a compound of the Greek combining form pan– “all,” completely naturalized in English, and the adjective suffix –akḗs “healing,” a derivative ákos “cure, remedy.” The Greeks had a genius for personification, making, for instance, the common noun peithṓ “persuasion” into the goddess Peithṓ. So, too, with hygíeia “healthy state, good health” becoming the goddess Hygíeia, and panákeia, the goddess Panákeia. In fact the first sentence of the Hippocratic Oath (originally dating between the 5th and 3rd centuries b.c.) begins, “I swear by Apollo the physician and Asclepius and Hygeia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses….” Panacea entered English in the mid-16th century.

how is panacea used?

That could help provide a financial lifeline for the difficult weeks ahead — but it isn’t a panacea ….

Ann Carrns, "How to Build an Emergency Fund in the Middle of an Emergency," New York Times, March 20, 2020

The panacea of a world state, on the contrary, is doomed to bitter disappointment. A political unification of the nations of the world is impossible while political questions divide mankind.

Ellery C. Stowell, "A League of Nations," The Nation, Vol. 103, December 7, 1916

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

taxonomy

[ tak-son-uh-mee ]

noun

a classification into ordered categories: a proposed taxonomy of educational objectives.

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What is the origin of taxonomy?

The English noun taxonomy, “classification into ordered categories,” comes from French taxonomie, an irregular formation from the Greek noun táxis “military formation by rank and file,” and the Greek combining form –nomía, a derivative of nómos “law.” A note on the spelling: the original Greek noun táxis is an “i-stem,” and its connecting vowel is –i-; the etymologically correct form is taxinomy. The noun táxos, “yew, yew tree,” has the connecting vowel –o-; taxonomy “properly” means “classification of yew trees.” Taxonomy entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is taxonomy used?

Warhol was the little match girl peering in at high society, wondering what a rich collector or a countess was like and creating a taxonomy of it.

Thomas Sokolowski, quoted in "Picasso: Love Him? Hate Him? A Bit of Both?" Robert Atkins, New York Times, April 28, 1996

How long has our current taxonomy of Red State vs. Blue State been part of our political vernacular?

Christopher Briem, "The map is back!" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 5, 2013

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

idoneous

[ ahy-doh-nee-uhs ]

adjective

appropriate; fit; suitable; apt.

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What is the origin of idoneous?

The adjective idoneous, “suitable, fit,” is now rare and archaic. It comes straight from Latin idōneous “suitable, appropriate, qualified, able”; it has no reliable Latin etymology. Idoneous has an even rarer derivative noun, idoneousness “fitness, suitability.”  Idoneous entered English in the first half of the 17th century; idoneousness is first recorded in English in the first half of the 18th century and was last recorded just over a century later, in the mid-19th.

how is idoneous used?

As far as benefices are concerned no one could be more idoneous, fitting or suitable than Martin, since he is an Anglican clergyman.

Patrick O'Brian, The Truelove, 1992

What is idoneous cannot be always or necessarily known in advance. 

Aseem Inam, Planning for the Unplanned: Recovering from Crises in Megacities, 2005

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