Word of the Day

Thursday, November 01, 2018

penumbra

[ pi-nuhm-bruh ]

noun

a shadowy, indefinite, or marginal area.

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What is the origin of penumbra?

The noun penumbra is composed of the Latin adverb paene “almost” and the Latin noun umbra “shadow.” Paene is not usual in Latin compounds, the most frequent being paeninsula (paeneinsula) “peninsula” and paenultimus (pēnultimus) “almost last, second last,” especially the “second last syllable” (penultimate is often misused in English to mean “ultimate, last”). Penumbra (paenumbra) does not occur in Classical or Medieval Latin; it is a New Latin coinage by the German mathematician and astronomer Johann Kepler (1571-1630). Penumbra entered English in the 17th century.

how is penumbra used?

… I couldn’t figure out why I was hearing it in the penumbra of an old-growth floodplain forest in South Carolina, a forest that once stretched as far north as Upper Virginia and as far west as East Texas.

Rosalind Bentley, "Among the Majestic Trees in Congaree, Slipping Into Silence," New York Times, July 16, 2018

It’s a daring move, an attempt to trace the penumbra of abuse across a shattered psyche.

Ron Charles, "Roddy Doyle was determined to write a novel that shocked--and succeeded," Washington Post, October 17, 2017
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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

ghosting

[ goh-sting ]

noun

Informal. a. the practice of suddenly ending all contact with a person without explanation, especially in a romantic relationship: He was a victim of ghosting. b. Also called French goodbye, Irish goodbye. the act of leaving a social event or engagement suddenly without saying goodbye: Ghosting might be the best option if we want to get home before midnight.

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What is the origin of ghosting?

The dating sense of ghosting is first recorded in 2005–10. It’s possibly linked to the expression get ghost “to leave immediately,” which gained popularity in 1990s hip-hop.

how is ghosting used?

In the case of ghosting, a lack of accountability has brought out the worst in humanity, but applying behavioral science to UX design could be the key to unlocking the solution and with it the next billion dollar idea, paving the way for a new era of ghost-free online dating.

Jack Rogers, "Ghosting -- Dating's Billion Dollar Problem?" Forbes, August 28, 2018

Among younger generations, ghosting has “almost become a new vocabulary” in which “no response is a response,” says Amanda Bradford, CEO and founder of The League, a dating app. Now, “that same behavior is happening in the job market,” says Bradford, who’s experienced it with engineering candidates who ghosted her company.

Chip Cutter, "People are 'ghosting' at work, and it's driving companies crazy," LinkedIn, June 23, 2018
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

hocus-pocus

[ hoh-kuhs-poh-kuhs ]

noun

unnecessarily mysterious or elaborate activity or talk to cover up a deception, magnify a simple purpose, etc.

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What is the origin of hocus-pocus?

Hocus-pocus is a pseudo-Latin rhyming formula used by jugglers and magicians. It was first recorded in 1615–25.

how is hocus-pocus used?

Maybe the English are right: [writer’s] block is just a hocus-pocus covering life’s regular, humbling facts.

, "Blocked," The New Yorker, June 14, 2004

How, exactly, does the president’s budget propose to use the surplus to “save” Social Security? With accounting hocus-pocus.

Allan Sloan, "Reading Between the Budget Lines," Washington Post, February 10, 1998

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