Word of the Day

Word of the day

Monday, July 19, 2021

perambulate

[ per-am-byuh-leyt ]

verb (used without object)

to walk or travel about; stroll.

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What is the origin of perambulate?

Perambulate, “to walk or travel about; stroll,” is in origin a Scots word that meant “to travel through (land) and inspect it for measuring or dividing or determining ownership,” a process called perambulation. Perambulate comes from Latin perambulātus, the past participle of perambulāre “to walk through, walk about, walk around in, tour, make the rounds,” a compound of the preposition and prefix per, per– “through” and the simple verb ambulāre “to walk; go about; travel; march” (source of English amble). Perambulate entered English in the mid-15th century.

how is perambulate used?

Mary and I liked to perambulate along the river Arno in Florence, or through the pedestrianised Roman thoroughfares.

Elizabeth Walsh Peavoy, "Preamble," In A Café: Selected Stories by Mary Lavin, 1995

Mr. Cleese may sometimes perambulate strangely but he still types perfectly fine, and he has agreed to write a book about his life ….

Dave Itzkoff, "And Now for Something Completely Literate: A Memoir From John Cleese," New York Times, October 8, 2012

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Word of the day

Sunday, July 18, 2021

toplofty

[ top-lawf-tee, -lof- ]

adjective

condescending; haughty.

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What is the origin of toplofty?

Toplofty, “condescending; haughty,” is a back formation of earlier toploftical, of similar meaning. Both adjectives are humorous colloquialisms. The underlying phrase is top loft, “the uppermost story, topmost gallery.” Toploftical appears, sort of, in everyone’s favorite bedtime reading, Finnegans Wake (1939): “…celescalating the himals and all, hierarchitectitiptitoploftical, with a burning bush abob off its baubletop…” Toplofty entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is toplofty used?

Newcomers to the Examiner who feared that the rich senator’s son might be a painful popinjay were charmed by his quaint courtesy and the absence of anything toplofty of condescending about him.

W. A. Swanberg, "Brash Beginning of a Sensational Career," Life, August 25, 1961

If this should fall through, dear, you must write to your Aunt Vic. You must eat humble pie. You were too toplofty with her as it was.

Basil King, The Street Called Straight, 1912

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Word of the day

Saturday, July 17, 2021

encomium

[ en-koh-mee-uhm ]

noun

a formal expression of high praise.

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What is the origin of encomium?

Encomium, “a formal expression of high praise,” comes via Latin encōmium from Greek enkṓmion “a laudatory ode for a conqueror, a eulogy or panegyric for a living person.” Enkṓmion is composed of the preposition and prefix en, en– “in,” the noun kômos “revel making, carousal, company of men participating in a Dionysiac procession and celebration” (the ancient Greeks did nothing to excess unless they were absolutely nuts about it). The further etymology of kômos is disputed; the word appears as the first element of kōmōidoí “revel singers,” from which the noun kōmōidía “a humorous spectacle” derives, becoming comoedia in Latin, and comedy in English. Encomium entered English in the second half of the 16th century.

how is encomium used?

The latter film took a British miniseries that cast a sardonic, frequently scathing eye upon newspapering, and turned it into an encomium for the Great American Investigative Reporter.

Christopher Orr, "The Movie Review: 'The Soloist'," The Atlantic, April 24, 2009

Since Mr. Trebek announced his diagnosis, his admirers have flooded the internet and elsewhere with encomiums.

Katharine Q. Seelye, "Alex Trebek, Longtime Host of 'Jeopardy!,' Dies at 80," New York Times, November 8, 2020

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