Word of the Day

Monday, October 15, 2018

patzer

[ paht-ser, pat- ]

noun

a casual, amateurish chess player.

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What is the origin of patzer?

Patzer was first recorded in 1955–60. It is probably from German Patzer “bungler,” equivalent to patz(en) “to bungle” (compare Austrian dialect Patzen “stain, blot,” patzen “to make a stain”).

how is patzer used?

Anatoly Karpov, the champion before Kasparov, once said the only difference between a prodigy and a patzer was how far into the future a player could look.

Mitch Silver, The Bookworm, 2018

You’re a patzer. Look that up in your dictionary.

Mark Coggins, The Immortal Game, 2006
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Sunday, October 14, 2018

brightwork

[ brahyt-wurk ]

noun

polished metal parts, as on a ship or automobile.

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What is the origin of brightwork?

Brightwork is an Americanism dating back to 1835–45.

how is brightwork used?

One other mode of passing time while in port was cleaning and polishing your bright-work; for it must be known that, in men-of-war, every sailor has some brass or steel of one kind or other to keep in high order …

Herman Melville, White Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War, 1850

Under the unblinking gaze of the sun, windshields blazed and brightwork gleamed.

Dean Koontz, The Husband, 2006
Saturday, October 13, 2018

postern

[ poh-stern, pos-tern ]

noun

a back door or gate.

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What is the origin of postern?

English postern comes from Old French posterne, originally “a concealed exit from a fort, a sally port,” later “a small door, a back door.” Posterne is an alteration of Old French posterle “a back door, back way,” from Late Latin posterula “a small back door or gate; back way, byway,” a diminutive noun formed from the adjective posterus “(coming or being) after or in the future” and -ula, the feminine form of the common diminutive noun suffix -ulus. The -n- in posterne is likely due to the influence of the Old French adjectives interne (from Latin internus) and externe (from Latin externus). Postern entered English in the early 14th century.

how is postern used?

It was the second gate, a postern in the north wall, that accounted for the most noticeable change.

James A. Michener, The Source, 1965

A practicable postern was ajar on the yellow wood of the studded gates.

Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford, Romance, 1903

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