the vertical groove on the surface of the upper lip, below the septum of the nose.
Philtrum “the vertical groove on the surface of the upper lip” is a Latinized version of Ancient Greek phíltron, of the same meaning. However, phíltron could also mean “love potion,” and it is this sense that is preserved in the English term philter (not to be confused with the unrelated homophone filter, which is of Germanic origin). Phíltron is formed from the adjective phílos (stem phil-) “loving, dear” and the suffix -tron, which—as an instrumental suffix—roughly translates as “thing that does/is used for something.” The stem phil- (also philo-) is the source of dozens of words in English, from philosophy (“love of wisdom”) and philanthropy (“love of humankind”) to Philadelphia (“brotherly love”) and Philip (“love of horses”). Philtrum was first recorded in English in the first decade of the 17th century.
The early human embryo looks very similar to the embryo of any other mammal, bird or amphibian—all of which have evolved from fish. Your eyes start out on the sides of your head, but then move to the middle. The top lip along with the jaw and palate started life as gill-like structures on your neck. Your nostrils and the middle part of your lip come down from the top of your head. There is no trace of a scar; the plates of tissue and muscle fuse seamlessly. But there is, however, a little remnant of all this activity in the middle of your top lip—your philtrum.
[Channing Tatum] likes everywhere he’s ever been—every phase, every fad, every quirk of life in the fringes of large American cities. He makes being a latchkey kid in lower-middle-class Tampa sound like a picaresque novel …. And while I’m listening, I grab my last crab end-to-end and split it with one hand. It crumbles a little, then snaps open and sprays Tatum with a spritz of crab juice straight in his million-dollar philtrum, lips and all …. To the credit of his everlasting graciousness, Tatum plays it off, pretends he doesn’t notice.
cloudy or foggy.
Nubilous “cloudy or foggy” derives from Latin nūbilus “cloudy, overcast,” equivalent to the noun nūbēs “cloud” and the adjectival suffix -ilus. Nūbēs is also, by way of French, the source of English nuance, which originally referred to literal shades and hues. As we learned from last year’s Word of the Day obnubilate, though nūbēs and Latin nebula sound similar and both mean “cloud,” the two words are unrelated; the stark difference between their vowels cannot be explained through regular historical sound changes. Though it is uncertain whether nūbēs has any cognates in English that are of Anglo-Saxon or general Germanic origin, there is a small “cloud”-related rabbit hole that we can explore: the Old Norse word for “cloud” is ský, which—you guessed it—was borrowed into English as sky. Nubilous was first recorded in English circa 1530.
I thought the tree was just…standing there. That is true enough in winter, when the oak is dormant. But the rest of the year, its plumbing surges with food and water, coursing up, down, and out, in a living, interactive connection to the earth, sky, and sun …. Its canopy is minutely nubilous with freshly made oxygen and drifting water vapor released from millions of pores in a mist so fine we cannot see or smell it.
The water swirled around him and he panicked, unable to tell up from down …. Is this what Florence had felt like, frightened and alone in a dark cocoon of briny water? Isaac felt something bump against his back. Was it the boat? A piece of driftwood? He tried to grasp it, couldn’t. But then he felt someone grab him from behind and realized Stuart had found him—miraculously—in the nubilous water.
the process of setting a stage, with regard to placement of actors, scenery, properties, etc.
Mise en scène “the process of setting a stage” is a borrowing of a French term with the same meaning that consists of three elements: mise “a putting, setting down,” en “in, on,” and scène “stage.” Mise is both a noun and past participle of the verb mettre “to place, put,” which derives from Latin mittere (perfect stem miss-) “to send,” the source of admit, permit, submit, and their respective noun forms (admission, permission, and submission). Scène derives by way of Latin scaena or scēna “background” from Ancient Greek skēnḗ “booth (where actors dressed).” Although skēnḗ is of uncertain origin, one theory is that it is related to Ancient Greek skiá “shadow,” which would make scène (and, therefore, English scene) a distant cognate of the recent Word of the Day sciamachy. Mise en scène was first recorded in English in the early 1830s.
No writer questions the veracity of everyone and everything as effectively as Agatha Christie does. Her typical mise en scene has the suspects gathered in a room while Poirot or, occasionally Marple, unpicks each person’s defence in turn, proving they are not what they seem and are infinitely capable of murder, regardless of whether they’ve actually killed or not.
Out of all the intoxicating phrases that emerge from the study of film, my personal favourite is mise-en-scène, … The phrase conjures up the splendour of the audio-visual palettes that help establish film worlds, whether they be brooding gothic horrors, deceptive melodramas, or the slick sheen of utopian space operas. If a film has worked its magic on you it will likely be through the delightful subtleties and provocations of its mise-en-scène.
Get A Vocabulary Boost In Your Inbox