Word of the Day

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

paradisiacal

[ par-uh-di-sahy-uh-kuhl, -zahy- ]

adjective

of, like, or befitting paradise.

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What is the origin of paradisiacal?

Paradisiacal comes from the Late Latin adjective paradīsiacus “pertaining to heaven, pertaining to the Garden of Eden,” a word appearing only in Christian authors. Paradīsiacus is a derivative of the noun paradīsus “a park,” and in Christian authors, “paradise.” Paradīsus is a borrowing of the Greek noun parádeisos, which first appears in the works of the Athenian historian and essayist Xenophon (c430-350 b.c.), meaning “enclosed park or pleasure ground with animals (for hunting),” and always referring to the grounds of Persian kings and nobles. In later authors parádeisos simply meant “garden, orchard.” By the time of the Septuagint (the oldest Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, translated in the 3rd and 2nd centuries b.c.), parádeisos referred to the Garden of Eden (as in Genesis 2:8). In the Gospels parádeisos means “the abode of the blessed, heaven.” Parádeisos is a Greek borrowing from Avestan pairidaēza “enclosure,” literally “walled around.” (Avestan is the ancient East Iranian language of the Zoroastrian scriptures.) Paradisiacal entered English in the 17th century.

how is paradisiacal used?

… the proximity to the Tols, a range of inland mountains, created otherworldly climates which were sometimes paradisiacal, sometimes demoniacal, always one extreme or the other.

Stephen Marche, Shining at the Bottom of the Sea, 2007

Unlike our paradisiacal, blue-and-white Earth, the moon has no atmosphere and no real sky—just gray dust and black space, such that color photographs from moonwalks appear mostly black and white, as though someone colorized the American flags after the fact.

Elisa Gabbert, "NASA's Overlooked Duty to Look Inward," The New Yorker, December 21, 2016
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Tuesday, July 02, 2019

tmesis

[ tuh-mee-sis ]

noun

the interpolation of one or more words between the parts of a compound word, as be thou ware for beware.

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What is the origin of tmesis?

Tmesis is not a misspelling of thesis; tmêsis “cutting” is a Greek noun, a derivative of the verb témnein “to cut, prune, castrate.” Tmesis is a feature of the archaic epic syntax of the Iliad and Odyssey, in which there is a separation of an adverb (which becomes a prefix in Classical Greek) from its verb by an intervening word or phrase, as in the Iliad en d’autòs edýseto nṓropa chalkòn “… and he himself put on his gleaming bronze,” where the adverb en is separated from its verb edýseto by the phrase d’autòs “and he himself.” Tmesis is rare and archaic in modern English, as in “Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words” (that is, “Beware of him, yourself…”), 2 Timothy 4:15, Authorized Version. More than a few of us may admit familiarity with tmesis as it occurs in such adjectives as fantastic or unbelievable or in adverbs like absolutely, in which the fan-, un-, and abso– are separated from the rest of the word by an overworked vulgarism.

how is tmesis used?

You may remember Matt Foley, the in-your-face motivational speaker played by the late comedian Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live, whose “Well, la-dee-frickin’-da” was all the funnier for its tmesis.

Rebecca Cohen, "How I Met Your Mother's 'Legen—Wait for it—Dary' Is More Compli-Freaking-Cated Than You Think," Slate, April 16, 2014

Tmesis … means the insertion of one word into the middle of another word, as in abso-bloody-lutely or to-very-day. Most often we insert four-letter expletives, which cannot be printed in a newspaper but can only be suggested by substituting something like the British “bloody.”

Carl Strock, "Spirit Of Tmesis Lives To-Very-Day," Schenectady Gazette, February 4, 1989
Monday, July 01, 2019

orgulous

[ awr-gyuh-luhs, ‐guh‐ ]

adjective

haughty; proud.

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What is the origin of orgulous?

The English adjective orgulous has about as many spelling variants in Middle English (orgeilus, orgeyllous, orguillous, etc.) as its Old French source (orguillus, orguilleus, orgueilleux, etc.). The base of the French word is a Germanic (Frankish) noun, cognate with Old English orgol, orgel “pride,” and akin to the Old High German adjective urguol “outstanding.” Shakespeare uses orgillous once, in Troilus and Cressida, but the adjective was obsolete by the mid-17th century, only to be resuscitated by Sir Walter Scott and Robert Southey in the first half of the 19th century.

how is orgulous used?

The princes orgulous, their high blood chafed / Have to the port of Athens sent their ships …

William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, 1623

Ah, he is an orgulous man!

Georgette Heyer, My Lord John, 1973
Sunday, June 30, 2019

jubilate

[ joo-buh-leyt ]

verb (used without object)

to celebrate a joyful occasion.

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What is the origin of jubilate?

The verb jubilate sounds as if it must have a Hebrew origin from its being the first word of Psalms 65 and 100 in the Vulgate: Jūbilāte “Shout for joy.” But the Latin verb jūbilāre is a derivative of the Proto-Indo-European root -, yu– “to shout in exultation,” from which Greek derives iýzein “to shout aloud” (with several derivatives), and Middle High German derives and jūch, expressions of joy. Jubilate entered English in the early 17th century.

how is jubilate used?

… spectators mill around, dance, and jubilate in Imelda’s rise to power, while feeling uneasy about how much fun they’re having.

Michael Schulman, "Bling Ring," The New Yorker, May 6, 2013

Then there were their children, the sabras, blond, husky women, and men: earnest people for all that they could dance and jubilate.

Belva Plain, Evergreen, 1978
Saturday, June 29, 2019

prismatic

[ priz-mat-ik ]

adjective

spectral in color; brilliant: prismatic colors.

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What is the origin of prismatic?

Prismatic ultimately comes from the Greek noun prîsma (inflectional stem prísmat-) “something sawed, sawdust, (in geometry) trilateral column, prism.” Prîsma is a derivative of príein “to saw, trephine (skulls), grind or gnash (teeth), cut off (syllables).” Prismatic entered English in the 17th century.

how is prismatic used?

He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass.

Ambrose Bierce, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," 1890

We get beautiful effects from wit,—all the prismatic colors,—but never the object as it is in fair daylight.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table," The Atlantic Monthly, January 1858
Friday, June 28, 2019

symposiarch

[ sim-poh-zee-ahrk ]

noun

a toastmaster.

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What is the origin of symposiarch?

The uncommon noun symposiarch comes straight from Greek symposíarchos “leader or master of a symposium,” extended in English to “toastmaster.” The suffix –arch (and prefix arch-) “chief, leader, ruler” is naturalized in English. Sympósion “drinking party” breaks down to the prefix syn– “with, together with” and –posion, a derivative of pósis “drinking, a drink,” from pínein “to drink.” Symposiarch entered English in the early 17th century.

how is symposiarch used?

By election, or by some other means, a symposiarch was selected to preside over the mixing and the toasts.

James N. Davidson, Courtesans and Fishcakes, 1997

After dinner, the symposiarch, who acted as master of ceremonies, laid down the rules for the evening and established the order of events.

Michael Norris, Greek Art: From Prehistoric to Classical, 2000
Thursday, June 27, 2019

strawhat

[ straw-hat ]

adjective

of or relating to a summer theater situated outside an urban or metropolitan area: strawhat theater; strawhat circuit.

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What is the origin of strawhat?

Strawhat used as an attributive or adjective, as in strawhat circuit, was originally an Americanism and referred to the custom, still common, of people wearing straw hats in the summer for comfort. Strawhat entered English in the mid-1930s.

how is strawhat used?

Indeed, the strawhat impresario is not only at the mercy of the the customers but he is also subject to the tribulations and vagaries of the actors ….

Charlotte Harmon, "Confessions of a Strawhat Impresario," New York Times, June 16, 1957

After a million-dollar restoration, the old house reopened as a strawhat theater in 1963 with Price, a recent graduate of the Yale Drama School, as general manager.

Lynne Baranski, "Michael Price's Goodspeed Opera Doesn't Just Try Out Broadway Hits—It Creates Them," People, November 19, 1979

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