Word of the Day

Word of the day

Saturday, April 21, 2018

panchreston

[ pan-kres-tuh n ]

noun

a proposed explanation intended to address a complex problem by trying to account for all possible contingencies but typically proving to be too broadly conceived and therefore oversimplified to be of any practical use.

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What is the origin of panchreston?

English panchreston comes via Latin panchrēstos “good for everything, universal.” In Latin, its usage is restricted to medicine or derived metaphors, e.g., Pliny the Elder (a.d. 23-79) uses panchrēstos stomaticē, a phrase of two Greek words with Greek inflections, meaning “universal remedy for ailments of the mouth”; Cicero (106-43 b.c.), in one of his forensic speeches, uses panchrēstō medicāmentō “universal cure” as a scornful periphrasis for “bribe.” The original Greek adjective (and noun) pánchrēstos has the same relatively restricted meaning, i.e., to describe widely useful tools or medications. Panchreston entered English in the 17th century.

how is panchreston used?

Bunnell … suggested that the term “fragmentation” has become a panchreston because it has become a catch-all phrase that means different things to different people.

David B. Lindenmayer and Joern Fischer, Habitat Fragmentation and Landscape Change, 2006

Unfortunately, this term has by now acquired so many definitions (at least 70 by recent count) that it has become a panchreston–a term that means so many different things that it means almost nothing.

Daniel Simberloff, Invasive Species: What Everyone Needs to Know, 2013
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Word of the day

Friday, April 20, 2018

neatnik

[ neet-nik ]

noun

Slang. a person who is extremely neat about surroundings, appearance, etc.

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What is the origin of neatnik?

Neatnik was formed in opposition to the supposedly scruffy, unshaven beatnik (coined in 1958). The suffix -nik, still unnaturalized in English, is of immediate Yiddish origin, from Slavic (Russian, Ukrainian). English peacenik, also derogatory, dates from 1962. Neatnik entered English in 1959.

how is neatnik used?

This yard scrubbing leaves the neatnik poised and ready to intercept the very first leaf to yield to gravity.

Adrian Higgins, "Americans love mulch--and many of us are misusing it," Washington Post, September 13, 2017

I could almost identify by type the managers who had come and gone in the thirty years the building had been occupied. One was a neatnik, who’d filed all the paperwork in matching banker’s boxes.

Sue Grafton, T Is for Trespass, 2007

Word of the day

Thursday, April 19, 2018

booklore

[ book-lawr ]

noun

facts and information about books, especially about authors and circumstances of publication.

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What is the origin of booklore?

One of the current meanings of booklore, “facts about books, their authors and publication,” applies mostly to the business of buying, trading, and selling books, especially of first editions and antiquarian books. The other meaning of booklore is as a much less common synonym of book learning. Wulfstan of York (died 1023), Archbishop of York and homilist (a writer or speaker of sermons, usually on Biblical or religious subjects) is the first writer to use booklore. Not surprisingly Wulfstan uses bóclár in the sense “book learning, especially religious book learning.” Booklore entered English in the early 11th century.

how is booklore used?

Besides reviving interest in booklore generally and bringing about the secularization of many of the great libraries, the influence of Humanism and of the Reformation also resulted in demands that libraries be opened to the public.

H. H. Bockwitz, "Books--In Spite of Fire and Sword," The Rotarian, December 1936

Scattered among the review excerpts of a gallaxy [sic] of its titles are some fascinating bits and pieces of book lore. Do you know the origin of the words book, volume and tome? Who now is the most widely translated author?

Al, "Bookwatch," New Scientist, May 1, 1975

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