• Word of the day
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    Thursday, July 11, 2019

    peccable

    adjective [pek-uh-buhl]
    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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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, July 10, 2019

    eye-minded

    adjective [ahy-mahyn-did]
    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

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, July 09, 2019

    donnish

    adjective [don-ish]
    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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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, July 08, 2019

    caducity

    noun [kuh-doo-si-tee, -dyoo-]
    frailty; transitoriness: the caducity of life.
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    What is the origin of caducity?

    Caducity is an uncommon noun meaning “frailty, weakness of old age.” It comes from French caducité “obsolescence, cancellation,” a derivation of the adjective caduc “obsolete, deciduous,” from the Latin adjective cadūcus “fallen, falling, liable to fall, frail, fleeting.” Caducity entered English in the 17th century.

    How is caducity used?

    What remains, the point of the passion, is a fascination with caducity and the relationship of photography to it. Leslie Epstein, "Stories and Something Else," New York Times, February 14, 1982

    A man ... to whom, and to whose colleagues, amid the perishable caducity of human affairs, is largely due the pullulation of literary taste .... Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop, 1919

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, July 07, 2019

    everywhen

    adverb [ev-ree-hwen, -wen]
    all the time; always.
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    What is the origin of everywhen?

    Everywhen “at all times, always” usually appears in the phrase “everywhere and everywhen.” The word dates from the mid-17th century, but it has never really caught on.

    How is everywhen used?

    ... the Doctor's time and space machine gives him limitless opportunities to travel everywhere and everywhen—a freedom most of us would love to possess. Kevin S. Decker, "The Ethics of the Last of the Time Lords," Doctor Who and Philosophy, 2010

    Time stood still (that moment was eternal) and it was placeless (ubiquitous, everywhere and everywhen). Roy Bhaskar, The Philosophy of MetaReality, 2002

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, July 06, 2019

    ansa

    noun [an-suh]
    either of the apparent extremities of the rings of Saturn or of other planets, especially when viewed from a distance under certain conditions, when they look like two handles.
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    What is the origin of ansa?

    English ansa comes via French anse “handle” from Latin ānsa “handle (of a cup, a door), a loop, an opening, an opportunity.” As a term in art history or archaeology, ansa means “an incised, decorated handle of a vase.” The astronomical sense “one of the apparent extremities of the rings of Saturn or other celestial bodies” is a New Latin sense dating from the 17th century. Latin ānsa is akin to Old Prussian ansis “hook, kettle-hook” and Lithuanian ąsà “pot handle.”

    How is ansa used?

    A distinct dark patch, like a notch, visible near the middle of the ansa, broadest on the face of ring, and extending nearly from the inner to outer edge. Thomas Gwyn Elger, "Physical Observations of Saturn in 1888," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 48, 1888

    The moon Epimetheus can be seen near Saturn, just above the right ansa, or the portion of the ring that appears farthest away from the planet's disk in the image. Jeanna Bryner, "Spectacular Saturn Images by 'Amateurs' Will Make Your Jaw Drop," Space.comSeptember 18, 2017

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, July 05, 2019

    thalassic

    adjective [thuh-las-ik]
    of or relating to seas and oceans.
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    What is the origin of thalassic?

    Thalassic “pertaining to seas or oceans, growing or found in the sea” is a relatively rare technical term used in oceanography, usually applied to bodies of salt water such as gulfs or bays that are smaller than oceans. The adjective comes ultimately from the Greek noun thálassa, thálatta “sea, the sea, the Mediterranean Sea.” Thálassa has no reliable etymology but is from the same pre-Greek language that gave Greek an alternative form to thálassa, thálatta, namely, dalánkha, recorded only once, in a dictionary of the 5th century a.d. Early in “Telemachus,” the first chapter of Ulysses, the irrepressible Malachi “Buck” Mulligan tries to convert a sullen Stephen Dedalus from Catholicism to Hellenism: “Ah, Dedalus, the Greeks…. You must read them in the original. Thalatta! Thalatta!” But Buck’s Hellenism is as shallow as everything else about him: he would have seen thalatta thalatta in his second or third semester of high school Greek in Book 4, Chapter 7 of the Anabasis of Xenophon, whose works were much read as school texts because of the simplicity of his style. The word thalassic entered English in the mid-18th century.

    How is thalassic used?

    I, recalling the crimson chamber in his castle, speculated upon his living arrangements in thalassic caverns I could scarcely conceive. Gene Wolfe, The Urth of the New Sun, 1987

    He was sure something would come from the deeps to attack the fleet. There were old thalassic Instrumentalities uglier than any revenants stirring ashore. Glen Cook, Lord of the Silent Kingdom, 2007

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