Word of the Day

Thursday, July 11, 2019

peccable

[ pek-uh-buhl ]

adjective

liable to sin or error.

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What is the origin of peccable?

Peccable comes from Old French from the Medieval Latin adjective peccābilis “capable of sin, susceptible to sin,” formed from the Latin verb peccāre “to go wrong, make a mistake, act incorrectly, commit a moral or sexual offense.” Peccable was formed on the model of impeccable, which dates from the first half of the 16th century. Peccable entered English in the early 1600s.

how is peccable used?

In his thought at that sharp moment he blasphemed even against all that had been left of his faith in the peccable Master.

Henry James, The Lesson of the Master, 1888

And Mrs. Hancock delivers Mrs. Malaprop’s peccable usages with impeccable aplomb. Nothing offends this lady so much as having someone cast ”an aspersion upon my parts of speech.”

Walter Goodman, "A Comedy of Manners by Sheridan," New York Times, August 10, 1989
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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

eye-minded

[ ahy-mahyn-did ]

adjective

disposed to perceive one's environment in visual terms and to recall sights more vividly than sounds, smells, etc.

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What is the origin of eye-minded?

Eye-minded “tending to perceive one’s environment in visual terms and to recall sights more vividly than sounds or smells” was originally and still is a term used in psychology. Eye-minded has a companion term ear-minded dating from the same year (1888). A third related term motor-minded “tending to perceive one’s environment in terms of mechanical or muscular activity” dates to the end of the 19th century.

how is eye-minded used?

Some persons are “eye-minded.” They particularly enjoy seeing things, and retain visual memories far longer than any other.

Alfred N. Goldsmith, "Electrical Entertainment: A Glimpse Into the Future," New York Times, March 22, 1931

He is a good visualizer, and is eye-minded in every respect.

Joseph Jastrow, "Further Study of Involuntary Movements," The Popular Science Monthly, September 1892
Tuesday, July 09, 2019

donnish

[ don-ish ]

adjective

bookish; pedantic.

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What is the origin of donnish?

The adjective donnish “bookish, pedantic” is a derivative of the Oxbridge term don “a head, fellow, or tutor of a college.” The English noun comes from the Spanish title of respect Don prefixed to a man’s name, as Don Quixote. Spanish don, Portuguese dom ultimately come from Late Latin domnus, a shortening of Latin dominus “lord, master.” Domnus is also the source of Italian Donno, usually reduced to Don, a title of respect for a man, such as Don Corleone.

Latin domina “mistress (of a household), lady (of the imperial family)” is the feminine of dominus, and the source of French and English dame, Spanish doña, Portuguese dona, and Italian donna “woman, lady of the house” and Madonna, literally “my lady,” not only a title of the Virgin Mary, but also a respectful form of address equivalent to French madame. In medieval Florence Madonna was shortened to Mona “Ma’am,” an informal but respectful title for a married woman, such as Mona Lisa. In the Neapolitan dialect (and other southern Italian dialects), intervocalic d becomes r, Madonna thereby becoming Maronna, the final a falling away, leaving the interjection Maronn’, a cry of exasperation. Donna has become a female given name in some parts of the United States with large Italian American populations. Donnish entered English in the early 19th century.

how is donnish used?

Sir Richard was not exactly donnish, but there was an element of the academic in what seemed otherwise to be a traditional, bird-slaughtering, upper-rank Englishman.

John Malcolm, The Gwen John Sculpture, 1985

… [William Safire] founded our On Language column in February 1979 and proceeded to write tens of thousands of words about phrases (fashionable and not), usages (proper and not), roots (definitive and not) and his own donnish taste — not! …

Gerald Marzorati, "On Language with Ben Zimmer," New York Times, March 16, 2010

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