Word of the Day

Sunday, February 07, 2021

plashy

[ plash-ee ]

adjective,

marshy; wet.

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What is the origin of plashy?

Plashy “marshy, wet” is a derivative of Middle English plash(e), plaice, place “pool of standing water, marshy area,” from Old English plæsc “pool of water, puddle.” The adjective suffix -y comes from Middle English -i, -ie, -y, from Old English -ig (compare the German suffix -ig), which is related to the Greek adjective suffix -ikos and Latin -icus. Plashy entered English in the mid-16th century.

how is plashy used?

The hare is running races in her mirth; / And with her feet she from the plashy earth / Raises a mist, which, glittering in the sun, / Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.

William Wordsworth, "Resolution and Independence," Poems in Two Volumes, 1807

Suddenly I found myself face-to-face with a proud fastidious woman in confusion, hesitating, seeming to scruple at the prospect of having to step out of the Gallery and into the plashy road.

Robert Nye, The Voyage of Destiny, 1982

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Saturday, February 06, 2021

limerence

[ li-mer-uhns ]

noun

the state of being obsessively infatuated with someone, usually accompanied by delusions of or a desire for an intense romantic relationship with that person.

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What is the origin of limerence?

Limerence “obsessive infatuation with someone, usually accompanied by delusions of or a desire for an intense romantic relationship with that person” was coined in 1977 by Dorothy Tennov, an American psychologist, in her book Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love. Dr. Tennov says of her coinage: “I first used the term amorance then changed it back to limerence… It has no roots whatsoever. It looks nice. It works well in French. Take it from me it has no etymology whatsoever.”

how is limerence used?

What did Henry VIII’s poems express more feelingly than Shakespeare’s, and what did Don Juan, for all his reputation, probably never feel at all? The answer is limerence.

Roy Reed, "Love and Limerence," New York Times, September 16, 1977

Like everything else he’d said, she passed this under the microscope of obsessional limerence.

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, 2013

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Friday, February 05, 2021

lustrum

[ luhs-truhm ]

noun

a period of five years.

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What is the origin of lustrum?

The Romans liked nothing better than combining religion and politics. In ancient Rome, a lustrum was a lustration, a ceremony of purification performed every five years at the end of a census (the census determined an adult male citizen’s voting rights, military obligations, and tax liability). In Latin lustrum acquired the general meaning “period of five years.” The lustration involved a circular procession with instruments of purification (torches, sacrificial animals), music, hymns, dancing, and it culminated in the sacrifice of the animals. The lustrum of the city of Rome was conducted on the Campus Martius by one of the censors, two senior elected magistrates having considerable power and responsibility, such as conducting the census and policing public morals. Lustrum entered English at the end of the 16th century.

how is lustrum used?

Even in their own lifetimes they knew that from 1797 to 1802 they shared a lustrum of sympathy and love and achievement which were proof against worldly accidents and tribulations.

George Mallaby, "Dorothy Wordsworth: The Perfect Sister," The Atlantic, December 1950

I am not obsessed with the apocryphal trash of any lustrum or decade, nor do I intend to canonize what is fustian because it is a particle of the past. For the poet there is in fact no time passing.

Edward Dahlberg, "Beautiful Failures," New York Times, January 15, 1967

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