Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Panglossian

[ pan-glos-ee-uhn, -glaw-see-, pang- ]

adjective

characterized by or given to extreme optimism, especially in the face of unrelieved hardship or adversity.

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What is the origin of Panglossian?

Panglossian, “extremely optimistic, especially in the face of unrelieved hardship or adversity,” comes from Dr. Pangloss (Panglosse in French), an old, incurably optimistic tutor in Voltaire’s philosophical satire Candide. Pangloss comes from Greek panglossía “garrulousness, wordiness,” which also may suggest a certain amount of glibness. Candide, the name of the eponymous hero, comes from Latin candidus “bright, shining, pure, clean, good-natured, innocent,” perhaps also a comment on the hero’s naiveté. Panglossian entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is Panglossian used?

Kraft sets to work making a case for Panglossian optimism while his marriage crumbles and his money problems worsen.

Rob Doyle, "For Ideologues in Silicon Valley, Everything Is Just Right," New York Times, November 10, 2020

Burnett had developed a Panglossian confidence in the power of branding. “I believe we’re going to see something like the Microsoft Grand Canyon National Park,” he told the New York Times in 2001.

Patrick Radden Keefe, "How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump as an Icon of American Success," The New Yorker, December 27, 2018

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Word of the day

Monday, March 08, 2021

honcho

[ hon-choh ]

noun

a leader, especially an assertive leader.

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What is the origin of honcho?

Honcho is mostly an American term, entering the language in 1945, toward the end of World War II. It comes from Japanese hanchō “squad leader, group leader” and was picked up by American prisoners of war in the POW camps.

how is honcho used?

As head honcho of the nation’s most prestigious newspaper, all eyes will be on her, especially considering her status as the paper’s first female executive editor in its 160-year history. 

John Hudson, "Jill Abramson's Day-One Challenges," The Atlantic, September 6, 2011

You know, I know she’s the head honcho, and no one is calling her that. She deserves to be called that, doesn’t she?

Ira Flatow, in conversation with Kip Thorne, "Century-Long Search Leads to Landmark Gravitational Wave Discovery," Science Friday, February 12, 2016

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Word of the day

Sunday, March 07, 2021

sweven

[ swev-uhn ]

noun

a vision; dream.

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What is the origin of sweven?

Sweven means “a vision; a dream.” It comes from Middle English sweven (with nearly 20 variant spellings) “a dream in sleep, a dream-vision or supernatural vision appearing while one is awake,” all of which occurred in Old English swefen, swefn (in Old English especially as regards revelatory or premonitory dreams in the Bible). Sweven is related to Old Norse svefn, Sanskrit svápna-, Old Church Slavonic sŭnŭ, Greek hýpnos, Latin somnus, Old Irish suan, Welsh hun, all meaning “sleep and/or dream.” All of the “daughter” forms derive from the Proto-Indo-European root swep-, swop-, sup– “to sleep.”

how is sweven used?

She wakened Earl Harold out of his sweven, to don his harness on …

Charles Kingsley, "The Weird Lady," Poems, 1889

The King with the Hundred Knights mette a wonder dream two nights afore the battle …. All that heard of the sweven said it was a token of great battle.

Thomas Malory, Le Morte D'Arthur, Vol. 1, edited by Janet Cowen, 1970, first published, 1485

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