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[ floh-jis-ton, -tuhn ] [ floʊˈdʒɪs tɒn, -tən ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a nonexistent chemical that, prior to the discovery of oxygen, was thought to be released during combustion.

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More about phlogiston

Phlogiston “a chemical once thought to be released during combustion” is the neuter form of Ancient Greek phlogistós “inflammable, burnt up,” from the verb phlogízein “to set on fire.” Relatives of phlogízein in English include phlegm (from phlégma “flame”) and phlox (from phlóx “a flame-colored plant”). All these words ultimately come from a Proto-Indo-European root roughly meaning “to burn, flash, shine” that appears today in English words containing bl-, fl-, ful-, or phl-, depending on the language of origin. For more descendants in English from this rather productive root, check out our recent Words of the Day effulgent, Phlegethon, and trailblaze. Phlogiston was first recorded in English circa 1730.

how is phlogiston used?

The theory of phlogiston was not debunked until the 1770s, when Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier showed that combustion is a reaction with a gas—oxygen. More than a century after that, it became possible to transmute one metal into another—but using a nuclear reactor rather than a philosopher’s stone.

Petr Kilian, “Phosphorus: 350 years after its discovery, this vital element is running out,” The Conversation, January 9, 2019
[S]cience is not advanced by polling. If it were, we would still be releasing phlogiston to burn logs and navigating the sky with geocentric maps.

Edward O. Wilson, “Evolution and Our Inner Conflict,” The New York Times, June 24, 2012
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[ fohk-lawr-i-koh, -lohr- ] [ foʊkˈlɔr ɪ koʊ, -ˈloʊr- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


containing, using, or performing Mexican folk dancing, especially a program or repertoire of such dances.

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More about folklorico

Folklorico “containing Mexican folk dancing” is a borrowing of Spanish folklórico (note the acute accent) “folkloristic,” based on English folklore and the Spanish adjective-forming suffix -ico. Despite the similar pronunciations, English folk is not related to Latin vulgus “the general public” (as in English vulgar); instead, it may be distantly related to hoi polloi “the common people” (from Ancient Greek) and the recent Word of the Day plebeian (from Latin plēbēs “the common people”). Lore, meanwhile, is closely related to English learn, and both come from a Germanic root meaning “to teach.” Folklorico was first recorded in English in the early 1940s.

how is folklorico used?

As director, she trains children and teens in folklorico dance steps and choreography as well as ballet and yoga. The classes and training are designed to provide the dancers with a balance of exercises that maintain both their strength and their flexibility.

Afroxander, “Pacifico Dance Company: Sharing the Love of Traditional Mexican Dance Around the World,” KCET, September 15, 2020
[Annel] Alvarez saw folklórico dance as a way out of a rut …. She’d started learning the folklórico dance style as a small child. Everything about it—the music, the costumes, the movement—felt like home.

Gina Kaufmann, “Folklórico dance helped Kansas City women escape a rut. Now they're aiming for the ‘big leagues,’” KCUR, March 27, 2022
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[ muhf-uh-let-uh ] [ ˌmʌf əˈlɛt ə ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a thick, round sandwich, typically containing ham, salami, and cheeses and topped with an olive salad, a specialty of New Orleans.

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More about muffuletta

Muffuletta “a thick, round deli sandwich from New Orleans” comes from the Sicilian dialect of Italian, perhaps from standard Italian muffola “mitten.” Muffola, in turn, likely comes by way of French moufle from Medieval Latin muffula “thick glove,” which appears to also be the source of camouflage. One possible source of muffula is a compound of two Germanic roots—one meaning “sleeve, something folded” (compare English moue or mow “a pouting grimace”) and the other meaning “skin” (compare English fell “the skin of an animal). Muffuletta was first recorded in English in the late 1960s, though the sandwich itself appears to date to the early 20th century.

how is muffuletta used?

One could fill an encyclopedia with the culinary delights on offer in this famously delicious city, but no visit to New Orleans is complete without partaking of a few classics: the city’s two most famous sandwiches, the muffuletta and the po’boy…

Denver Nicks, “Everything to Know About New Orleans,” National Geographic, July 1, 2018

We’ve tried a ton of amazing sandwiches over the years, but the muffuletta reigns supreme—it is just impossibly good. You can find them all over Louisiana and increasingly in other parts of the country, though it’s still a regional standard.

Larry Olmsted, “Travel-worthy sandwiches: 5 regional classics, and where to try them,” USA Today, November 28, 2018
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