Word of the Day

Thursday, November 05, 2020

perfervid

[ per-fur-vid ]

adjective

very fervent; extremely ardent; impassioned.

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What is the origin of perfervid?

The English adjective perfervid comes from New Latin perfervidus. Perfervidus does not in fact occur in earlier Latin even though it is formed perfectly properly: The usual Latin adjective, not common, is praefervidus. The root word of perfervidus (and praefervidus) is the adjective fervidus, which by itself already means “scalding hot, burning” even without a prefix. Fervidus is a derivative of the verb fervēre “to boil,” a Latin derivative of the very complicated Proto-Indo-European root bh(e)reu-, bh(e)ru “to boil, bubble.” This root also has a reduced form bher– that is extended by a w-suffix, thus bherw-, the exact source of fervēre. The variant bherw– is also the source of Middle Irish berbaim “I cook, boil,” Welsh berwi “to seethe, simmer.” The prefixes prae– and per– are frequently used as intensifiers of adjectives and verbs: Latin has percārus “very dear,” performāre “to form thoroughly,” and praeclārus “very famous.” Greek offers the spectacular example in the proper name Periklês “very famous,” from the preposition, adverb, and intensive prefix peri, and –klês, from –kléēs, from –kléwēs, a derivative of the noun kléos, also kléwos “glory.” Perfervid entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is perfervid used?

The fate of The Thorn Birds will certainly not hang on literary merit. With the broadest strokes and the most perfervid prose, the novel traces three generations of the Cleary family ….

Paul Gray, "Shaking the Money Tree," Time, May 9, 1977

But you have to watch Eileen. She sees things through the haze of a rather perfervid imagination. She sees this house, I’m sure, as it ought to be and Mrs. Wardell as a sort of Gainsborough duchess. She won’t see the show-off. The bad proportions of the hall. The excess of. glass in the chandelier.

Louis Auchincloss, The Great World and Timothy Colt, 1956

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Wednesday, November 04, 2020

tarriance

[ tar-ee-uhns ]

noun

Archaic.

delay.

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What is the origin of tarriance?

Tarriance “delay,” a derivative of the fairly common verb tarry and the familiar noun suffix –ance, first appears in Middle English in the first half of the 15th century. In case you were longing for the Middle Ages, when everything was slow, easy, and laid-back, one of the first citations of tarriance comes from the Calendar of Plea and Memoranda Rolls (1430) and reads “William shall paye to..Robt..without tariance..x li,” i.e., ten pounds, a very considerable sum. Tarriance in the sense of “temporary stay, sojourn” does not appear till the first half of the 16th century.

how is tarriance used?

Come, answer not, but to it presently; I am impatient of my tarriance.

William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 1623

After much tarriance, much debate, / The good gods leave them to their fate.

Susan Coolidge, "The Legend of Kintu," Verses, 1880

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Tuesday, November 03, 2020

public-spirited

[ puhb-lik-spir-i-tid ]

adjective

having or showing an unselfish interest in the public welfare.

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What is the origin of public-spirited?

Public-spirited first appears about 1646, right in the middle of the first (of three) English Civil Wars. The term has been used by many esteemed writers including Edmund Burke, Charles Dickens, and the admirable Jane Addams, who founded Hull House in Chicago (1899) and won the Nobel Peace Prize (1931).

how is public-spirited used?

Through the efforts of public-spirited citizens a medical clinic and a Psychopathic Institute have become associated with the Juvenile Court of Chicago ….

Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull-House, 1910

The hopes of the decade that had begun with John Kennedy’s call for a mix of public-spirited idealism and Cold War realism unraveled as the year wore on.

Jon Meacham, "What the Tumultuous Year 1968 Can Teach Us About Today," New York Times, October 24, 2020

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