Word of the Day

Monday, March 12, 2018

paseo

[ pah-sey-oh; Spanish pah-se-aw ]

noun

a slow, idle, or leisurely walk or stroll.

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What is the origin of paseo?

The Spanish noun paseo “a stroll” is a derivative of the verb pasear “take a walk,” itself a derivative of pasar “to come past, go past.” Pasar comes from an assumed Vulgar Latin verb passāre “to pass, go on, extend,” which is formed from Latin passus, the past participle of pandere “to unfold, extend, spread out.” The Latin noun passus “a step, pace,” also derived from pandere, is the ultimate source of pace, i.e., “a step,” and the verb pass. Paseo entered English in the 19th century.

how is paseo used?

… the theme of every evening’s conversation at the different houses, and in our afternoon’s paseo upon the beach, was the ship …

Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast, 1840

For the last two days in Ibarra, the foreigner has enjoyed easygoing Latina hospitality: a tour of the market where Celia’s mother has a stall; a paseo to a small village hosting a bullfight, even the funeral of a family friend.

Kelley Aitken, "Eating Cuy," Love in a Warm Climate, 1998
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Sunday, March 11, 2018

behindhand

[ bih-hahynd-hand ]

adverb, adjective

late; tardy.

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What is the origin of behindhand?

The adverb behindhand is formed on the analogy of the much earlier beforehand, which dates from the 13th century. Behindhand is especially but not exclusively concerned with monetary transactions, but from early in its history had the sense “out of date, behind the times.” Behindhand entered English in the 16th century.

how is behindhand used?

“Hum!” cried the old gentleman, consulting a watch he carried. “I think we are twenty minutes behindhand.”

Horatio Alger, Randy of the River, 1906

I was going to pop in to see if Miss Harner was O.K., but I was a bit behindhand after collecting some flowerpots and a bucket and that what had been blown into our hedge.

Miss Read, Gossip from Thrush Green, 1981
Saturday, March 10, 2018

krummholz

[ kroom-hohlts ]

noun

a forest of stunted trees near the timber line on a mountain.

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What is the origin of krummholz?

The German noun Krummholz, literally “crooked wood,” means “a forest of stunted trees near the timber line; elfinwood.” The German adjective krumm “bent, crooked, warped, stooping, devious” is related to British dialectal words crump “bent, crooked” and crumpback (also crump-back) “hunchback.” The German noun Holz “wood” is related to English holt and Old Norse holt. The Germanic nouns derive from Proto-Germanic hulto-, from keld-, an extended form of the Proto-Indo-European root kel- “to cut, hit.” Keld- is the source of Greek kládos “twig, branch, shoot” (and the English taxonomic term clade), and Slavic (Polish) kłoda “log.” Krummholz entered English in the early 20th century.

how is krummholz used?

A few miles away bare scree-covered slopes protruded from the gnarled krummholz, marking the trail’s maximum height.

Annie Proulx, "Testimony of the Donkey," Fine Just the Way It Is, 2008

I should point out that nowhere are the wabi and sabi palettes of time acting on nature more visible than in the krummholz–the “elfin timber,” gnarled and twisted little trees at treeline that might be a thousand years old …

Dan Simmons, “Introduction to ‘Looking for Kelly Dahl,’” Worlds Enough & Time, 2002

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