Word Of The Year
very fervent; extremely ardent; impassioned.
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.
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 ….
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.
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.
Come, answer not, but to it presently; I am impatient of my tarriance.
After much tarriance, much debate, / The good gods leave them to their fate.
having or showing an unselfish interest in the public welfare.
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).
Through the efforts of public-spirited citizens a medical clinic and a Psychopathic Institute have become associated with the Juvenile Court of Chicago ….
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.
anything of immense size and power.
“Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?” asks God of Job (Job 41). Leviathan first appears in Middle English in John Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible (ca. 1382). Leviathan comes from the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible, prepared by Saint Jerome at the end of the 4th century a.d.), from Hebrew liwyāthān, a kind of serpent or sea serpent or dragon of enormous size, possibly derived from the Semitic root lwy “to twist, encircle” (its etymology is uncertain). The most famous application of Leviathan is Thomas Hobbes’ book on politics, Leviathan (1651): Hobbes applied Leviathan to the state, omnipotent, totalitarian, and characterized by vast coercive machinery.
It’s ironic that Microsoft has come to be viewed as an underdog rather than a leviathan. But recent opinion suggests that that is the case …
While much of North America has been sweltering through a summer of record heat, a group of Canadian scientists have been rafting across the Arctic Ocean on a leviathan of floating ice.
a person who is torn by inner conflict.
The English noun agonist comes from the rare Late Latin noun agōnista, “an athlete or combatant for a prize in the games,” a word used once by St. Augustine in a sermon. Latin agōnista betrays its Greek origin with its –ista agent suffix (borrowed from Greek -istḗs). In Greek, agōnistḗs means “a combatant, contestant (in athletic games), a champion, a pleader or public speaker,” which covers a lot of territory when you consider the roles that competitive athletic games and public speaking (including criminal and civil trials) occupied in ancient Greek life. Agōnistḗs is a derivative of the noun agōnía, one of whose many meanings is “mental or spiritual anguish, agony,” which influenced one of the English meanings of agonist but doesn’t occur in Greek agōnistḗs. Agonist entered English in the first half of the 17th century.
There was a fissure in him from the start; the dream and the business did not march together; his will was not always the servant of his intelligence; he was an agonist, a self- tormentor, who ran to meet suffering halfway.
He was an agonist. He would argue one way; he would argue another; he just didn’t want to see bigotry thrive or watch a man die.
eerie; weird; spooky.
If the word is weird, eerie, and uncanny, it’s likely to be Scots, and eldritch is all of them. Most etymologists see a connection between eldritch and elf, as the early spelling variant elphrish suggests. The second syllable is likely to be Middle English riche “kingdom, realm” (from Old English rīce); the d is an excrescent or intrusive consonant between the l and the r, like chimbley for chimney in Oliver Twist: “they damped the straw afore they lit it in the chimbley.” This “Elf Kingdom” used to be exclusively Scots; the first “non-Scots” author to use the word was Nathaniel Hawthorne in his Scarlet Letter (1850). Eldritch entered English in the early 16th century.
In this anthology podcast, the mountains of central Appalachia are haunted by the sort of sanity-draining eldritch monsters found in a Stephen King novel, or in HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.”
Despite the eldritch horrors of Toni’s princess cake, her competitors’ renditions were, somehow, even more atrocious.
Gloaming, “twilight, dusk,” ultimately comes from Old English glōmung, which occurs once as a translation of Latin crepusculum “dusk, twilight.” Glōmung is a derivative of glōm “twilight, darkness,” from the same root as the verb glōwan “to glow like a coal or fire” (gloaming being the glow of sunrise or sunset). It is tempting to include gloom and its variant glum in this group, but the philological evidence is against it. Gloaming entered English before 1000.
During the workweek, when we are earning the money to pay for all those expensive gardening implements, it’s not possible to do much outside until dusk. Then, with the fireflies, we emerge into the gloaming armed with an arsenal of rakes, pitchforks and spades, like some medieval rabble on its way to battle.
Fortunately, at certain times and places Mercury is more removed from this all-obliterating influence than he is at others, and at such times he may be very distinctly seen, shortly after sunset, twinkling through the gloaming in the west.