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[ purs ] [ pɜrs ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


of a very deep shade of blue or purple.

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More about perse

Perse “of a very deep shade of blue or purple,” despite the similar spelling, is not related to per se “by itself” or purse “handbag.” Instead, perse comes from Latin perseus “kind of blue,” which does not come from Perseus, the Ancient Greek hero, but rather likely derives from Persicus “Persian.” The connection here is that fabrics containing the hue in question were imported from the Middle East. Perse is far from the only color named after an Asian country; compare turquoise, after Turkey, and indigo, after India. A fruity word with the same origin as perse is peach, which comes by way of French and Latin from Ancient Greek mêlon persikón “Persian apple.” Perse was first recorded in English in the mid-14th century.

how is perse used?

We crossed the circle to the other bank, / Near to a fount that boils, and pours itself / Along a gully that runs out of it. / The water was more sombre far than perse; / And we, in company with the dusky waves, / Made entrance downward by a path uncouth.

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), The Divine Comedy, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1867

That circle of hell where all those who had sinfully loved were whirled incessantly in the perse, dark, stormy air, appeared in the eyes even of Dante as a place less of punishment than of glory; and, especially since the Middle Ages, all mankind looks upon that particular hell-pit with admiration rather than with loathing.

Vernon Lee, Euphorion: Being Studies of the Antique and the Mediæval in the Renaissance, 1884
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[ yoo-kee-oh-ey ] [ yuˈki oʊˌeɪ ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a genre style of painting and printmaking developed in Japan from the 17th to the 19th centuries and marked by the depiction of the leisure activities of ordinary people.

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More about ukiyo-e

Ukiyo-e “a style of painting that depicts leisure activities” is equivalent to ukiyo “transitory world, floating world” combined with e (also we) “picture.” Ukiyo itself is formed from uki “floating” and yo “world,” while e is also found in emoji, which literally means “picture character, pictograph.” E is a borrowing from Middle Chinese and therefore has cognates in modern Chinese, including Mandarin huì and Cantonese kui “to draw.” The hyphen in ukiyo-e is merely to prevent readers from mispronouncing the yo-e portion as a single syllable, “yoh,” instead of as the correct “yoh-ey”; other transliterations include ukiyoe, ukiyoé, and ukiyo-we. Ukiyo-e was first recorded in English in the late 1890s.

how is ukiyo-e used?

This week the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, home to the greatest collection of Japanese art outside Japan, opens a giant retrospective of the art of [Katsushika] Hokusai, showcasing his indispensable woodblock prints of the genre we call ukiyo-e, or ‘images of the floating world.’

Jason Farago, “Hokusai and the wave that swept the world,” BBC, April 9, 2015

Édouard Manet, Claude Monet and Edgar Degas all studied ukiyo-e but no one absorbed its aesthetic as much as Vincent van Gogh. “All my work,” he wrote in a letter to his brother Theo, “is based to some extent on Japanese art.”

Joe Lloyd, “Van Gogh’s love affair with Japan,” The Economist, April 11, 2018
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[ wiz-uhn; wee-zuhn ] [ ˈwɪz ən; ˈwi zən ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used with or without object)

to wither; shrivel; dry up.

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More about wizen

Wizen “to wither” comes from Old English wisnian, of the same meaning. Despite the similar spelling, wizen is not related to wise or wizard—though many wizards are certainly both wise and wizened. Wise is also of Old English origin (spelled as wīs) and is closely related to wisdom and wit. All three of these words come from an ancient Proto-Indo-European root meaning “to see, know” that is also the source of Druid (from Celtic), history (from Ancient Greek), Veda (from Sanskrit), and vision (from Latin). Meanwhile, wizard is formed from wise and the noun-forming suffix -ard. Wizen was first recorded in English before the year 900.

how is wizen used?

Short and mole-rich and with hawk-like facial features that promised to wizen one day into one hell of a haggard mug, Kreshnik may have been more attractive in his bellhop uniform than he was out of it.

Evan James, Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe, 2019

This kist must have been a kind of constant in his shiftlessness when he left Perth, when he moved to Edinburgh. It was like he had to follow, to follow his bairns out there, into the world. As if he didn’t want to be left behind, to wizen, grow old and die.

Robert Alan Jamieson, Da Happie Laand, 2010
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