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Word of the day


[ pa-truh-nim-ik ] [ ˌpæ trəˈnɪm ɪk ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a name derived from the name of a father or ancestor, especially by the addition of a suffix or prefix indicating descent.

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What is the origin of patronymic?

Patronymic “a name derived from the name of a male ancestor” is an adaptation of the Ancient Greek term patrōnymikós “named after one’s father,” which is equivalent to patḗr (stem patr-) “father” and -ōnymos “having the kind of name specified,” plus the adjectival suffix -ikos. The female equivalent of patronymic is the recent Word of the Day metronymic (also spelled matronymic by analogy with Latin mater “mother”). Patronymics in English typically contain the suffix -son, as in Jackson or Johnson, while similar suffixes like -sen and -sson appear in Germanic languages such as German and Icelandic. Meanwhile, Irish and Scottish Gaelic use Mac- (often anglicized as Mc-), as in MacDonald and McIver, though the Anglo-Norman element Fitz- (ultimately from Latin filius “son”), as in Fitzgerald and Fitzsimmons, appears as well. Portuguese and Spanish respectively feature -es and -ez, as in Gonzales and López, which come from the Latin possessive ending -is “of.” Patronymic was first recorded in English circa 1610.

how is patronymic used?

At Taigh Sgoile na Drochaide, …. [c]hildren happily sing, count and play in Gaelic, using the Montessori model that encourages self-directed learning. Some of them arrived in September speaking only English, and have quickly learned fundamentals such as pronunciation and patronymics–the system of formal names derived from male ancestors, an important feature of Gaelic culture.

Greg Mercer, “A small Cape Breton schoolhouse offers hope for the future of Gaelic in Canada,” Globe and Mail, January 3, 2022

Activist Altyn Kapalova says she broke “patriarchic norms” in Kyrgyzstan by giving her three children “middle names” that derive from her own first name. The matronymics on the children’s new birth certificates replaced the traditional patronymics that originated from their fathers’ first names. Kapalova, 37, also gave her children–who are 5, 10, and 15 years old–her surname.

“Kyrgyz Mother Takes On The Patriarchy By Giving Her Children Her Own Name,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 4, 2021
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[ gib-lee ] [ ˈgɪb li ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a hot dust-bearing wind of the North African desert.

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What is the origin of ghibli?

Ghibli “a hot wind of the North African desert” is a loanword from Libyan Arabic gibli “south wind,” which is equivalent to standard Arabic qiblī (alternatively translated as qibliyy) “southern.” The reason for the h in ghibli is because of Italian, which borrowed ghibli from Arabic; because g before e or i is pronounced like “j” in Italian, an h is added to preserve the hard “g” sound. Despite the presence of the h, when visionary animator and director Hayao Miyazaki borrowed the name for his film studio, Studio Ghibli, he transliterated the name into Japanese as Jiburi. Ghibli was first recorded in English in the early 19th century.

how is ghibli used?

There are other, less constant winds that change direction, that can knock down horse and rider and realign themselves anticlockwise. The bist roz leaps into Afghanistan for 170 days—burying villages. There is the hot, dry ghibli from Tunis, which rolls and rolls and produces a nervous condition. The haboob—a Sudan dust storm that dresses in bright yellow walls a thousand metres high and is followed by rain.

Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient, 1992

Despite his intentions the night before, Emilio Busi woke up early and in an ugly mood because of the heat, the noise of the ghibli, and the thoughts that would not leave him alone. He left his house behind the cathedral and went on foot to the market, trying to protect his eyes and mouth from the sand. His long hair flapped around in the wind, and his large horn-rimmed glasses acted as a screen.

Roberto Costantini, The Root of All Evil, translated by N. S. Thompson, 2016
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[ trich-uh-reyt ] [ ˈtrɪtʃ əˌreɪt ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used with object)

to reduce to fine particles or powder by rubbing, grinding, bruising, or the like; pulverize.

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What is the origin of triturate?

Triturate “to reduce to powder by grinding” comes from Late Latin trītūrātus, the past participle of the verb trītūrāre “to thresh, rub, crush,” which is the frequentative of the verb terere, of the same meaning. (To learn more about frequentative verbs, check out our recent Word of the Day dauntless.) Terere is also the source of English terms such as contrite and detriment, and distantly related to terere are numerous words in Indo-European languages somewhat related to rubbing, turning, and similar actions. From Latin triō “plow ox” comes the recent Word of the Day septentrion, while Ancient Greek tórnos “tool for making circles” gives us attorney, contour, detour, and turn. Because Latin t tends to correspond to English th, native English relatives of triturate include thrash, thread, threshold, and throw; compare the recent Words of the Day togated and transcendental. Triturate was first recorded in English circa 1620.

how is triturate used?

When well triturated, the mixture is to be dissolved in about two ounces of proof spirits (good whiskey) and put into a tall vial, such as eau-de-Cologne bottle …. If … the weather [is] promising to be fine, all the solid part of the composition which appears in the glass will be closely collected at the bottom, and the liquid above will be quite clear; but on the approach, of a change to rain, the solid matter will appear gradually to rise, and small crystalline stars will be observed to float.

G. M. Hallowell, “Storm Indicator,” Scientific American, July 16, 1853

“But to get this oil you’re using now you triturate and distill the oil-free meal of bitter almonds—”

Triturate?” Andy didn’t want to put Maclain on the spot, but he couldn’t help breaking in.

“Pulverize,” Steve explained admiringly. “Yes, that’s it, sir.”

Baynard Kendrick, Frankincense and Murder, 1961
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