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[ pla-steek ] [ plæˈstik ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a ballet technique for mastering the art of slow, controlled movement and statuelike posing.

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More about plastique

Plastique, “a ballet technique for mastering slow movement,” is the French cognate of plastic. Both terms come by way of Latin plasticus “moldable” from Ancient Greek plastikós, formed from plastós “formed, molded.” Plastós is based on the verb plássein (stem plath-) “to form, mold” and -tos, an adjective-forming suffix, with the change from the expected “plathtós” to the actual plastós perhaps for easier pronunciation. Other derivatives of plássein include plasma, plaster, rhinoplasty, and the recent Words of the Day plasticity and esemplastic. While plastic in English dates to circa 1630, plastique was first recorded in English circa 1800.

how is plastique used?

While this breadth of repertory is no longer uncommon for Kirov dancers, Ms. Vishneva is exceptional in her ability to put her supple plastique—her gloriously articulate back from which all movement appears to emanate, her elongated line in arabesque, her exquisitely fluid arms—at the service of the choreography.

Roslyn Sulcas, “Prima Ballerina With Supple Grace and a Will of Steel,” The New York Times, June 14, 2007

In dance terms, it is cerebral stuff, the choreographer mixing the classical vocabulary of movement with a variety of others; he is impressive too in his use of stasis and plastique, questioning whether motion is essential to dancing.

Gerald Dowler, “Ashton/Forsythe/Van Manen, Ballett am Rhein, Düsseldorf — review,” Financial Times, October 12, 2015
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[ jin-jer-lee ] [ ˈdʒɪn dʒər li ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


with great care or caution; warily.

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More about gingerly

Despite the similar spelling and pronunciation, gingerly “with great care or caution” has nothing to do with the spicy root ginger. Gingerly is of uncertain origin but may come from Middle French gensor “delicate, pretty” (from gent “gentle”) combined with English -ly, an adjective- and adverb-forming suffix. The ultimate source of gensor is either the Latin verb gignere (stem genit-) “to beget” or the Latin noun gēns (stem gent-) “race, people.” In contrast, ginger comes via Latin from Ancient Greek zingíberis, perhaps by way of Sanskrit śṛṅgaveram or Pali siṃgiveram from a Dravidian language; compare Malayalam and Tamil iñci “ginger.” Gingerly was first recorded in English in the 1510s.

how is gingerly used?

[A]s the full moon hangs in the frosty sky, hundreds of dancers file in darkness toward the foot of the craggy peaks at the head of the valley. Frozen tundra crunches underfoot as dancing shoes step gingerly over ice-covered rivulets.

Barbara Fraser, “Melting Andes Glaciers Worry Peru Indigenous Peoples,” Indian Country Today, July 18, 2011

I felt the arm gingerly through his shirt—no compound fractures. I rolled it up carefully for a better look …. I bit my lip, feeling gingerly down the swell of his biceps. He had one of the worst bruises I had ever seen.

Diana Gabaldon, Drums of Autumn, 1996
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[ fee-niks ] [ ˈfi nɪks ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a person or thing that has become renewed or restored after suffering calamity.

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More about phoenix

Phoenix, “a person who has become restored after suffering calamity,” comes from Ancient Greek phoînix, which refers to the mythical bird, and this is where matters become murky. One popular proposal in the linguistic community is that phoînix comes from Ancient Egyptian bnw, the name of a heron represented as the god Benu. An alternative theory—a less broadly accepted one—is based on the fact that Ancient Greek had four phoînix words, meaning “phoenix,” “Phoenician,” “dark red,” and “date palm,” respectively. According to this theory, all four words are one and the same, though whether these phoînix words are of Indo-European, Semitic, or lost ancient Mediterranean origin is anyone’s guess. Phoenix was first recorded in English before 900.

how is phoenix used?

The shell of St Michael’s survives today, the intact steeple presiding over a Gothic amphitheatre, a still-consecrated place linked to its successor, Sir Basil Spence’s concrete-framed cathedral completed in 1962. This is a phoenix from the ashes, full of powerful modern stained glass.

Jonathan Foyle, “Glass from the past,” Financial Times, December 14, 2012

Jiwoo is a tough girl whose world is turned upside down …. Her bereavement and anguish are a result of the emotional turmoil she experiences before and after her father’s death. But she is a fighter. Although humiliated and mistreated, she rises from the ashes like a phoenix.

Debashree Dutta, “Actor You Need to Know: Han So-hee,” Rolling Stone: India, June 13, 2022
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