Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

plotz

[ plots ]

verb (used without object)

to collapse or faint, as from surprise, excitement, or exhaustion.

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What is the origin of plotz?

Plotz “to collapse or faint, as from surprise, excitement, or exhaustion,” is one of those Yiddish words that make you smile just from its sound. Many Americans learned plotz in the early 1950s from Mad magazine (originally a comic book). Plotz is an American slang term that comes from Yiddish platsn “to crack, split, burst,” from Middle High German platzen “to burst.” Plotz entered English about 1920.

how is plotz used?

Simmel was worried about street lamps, murals, the occasional honk of a horn. Had he lived to see a smartphone, or modern Tokyo, he would have plotzed.

Andrew Marantz, "Can Smart Wood Help You Log Off?" The New Yorker, October 7, 2019

Make an effort to include your parents in this milestone, let them decide whether to take part somehow, and if they decline, then invite your mother-in-law to take a bigger role. If/when your mom plotzes … you can simply and kindly remind your mother that she was invited to take part and chose not to.

Carolyn Hax, "Q. Uninterested parents vs. engaged in-laws," Washington Post, April 29, 2016

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Word of the day

Monday, December 14, 2020

paraselene

[ par-uh-si-lee-nee ]

noun

Meteorology.

a bright moonlike spot on a lunar halo; a mock moon.

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What is the origin of paraselene?

Paraselene “a bright moonlike spot on a lunar halo; a mock moon, a moon dog,” is a compound noun formed from the Greek preposition and prefix pará, para– “alongside, contrary to” and the noun selḗnē “moon, the moon.” Selḗnē is the Attic Greek form (when people say they are studying classical Greek, they mean the Greek of Attica, whose chief city was Athens); other dialects have selā́nā (Doric Greek and most other dialects); as usual, Aeolic Greek goes its own way with selánnā (Aeolic is the dialect of the lyric poets Sappho and Alcaeus). All the Greek forms derive from an unrecorded selasnā, a derivative of the neuter noun sélas “light, glow, beam.” Sixty percent of Greek words have no clear etymology; selḗnē, selā́nā, selánnā is among them. Paraselene entered English in the mid-17th century.

how is paraselene used?

In this image, the first quarter moon is flanked on both sides of a halo by “mock moons,” also known as paraselenae or “moondogs.” The apparitions are formed when moonlight is refracted through thin, plate-shaped ice crystals in cirrus clouds.

Nina Sen, "Dazzling 'Moondogs' Shine Over Alaska's Call of the Wild (Photo)," Space.com, April 1, 2013

The darkest part of the winter is from the middle of December to the middle of January, when the aurora transforms the sky into a vault of fire, and paraselene appear, surrounding the moon with blazing cresses, circles, and mock-moons, scarcely surpassed by the wonderful deceptions of the solar rays.

"Arctic and Antarctic Oceans," Scientific American, March 20, 1869

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Word of the day

Sunday, December 13, 2020

misbegotten

[ mis-bi-got-n ]

adjective

badly conceived, made, or carried out.

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What is the origin of misbegotten?

Misbegotten “badly conceived, made, or carried out,” is hard to figure out from its component parts. Misbegotten is made up of the prefix mis– “wrongly, incorrectly,” from the Germanic prefix missa– “astray, wrong” (from the same root as the verb miss “to fail to hit or strike”), as in Gothic missadeths “transgression, offense,” which occurs in Old English as misdǽd and in English as misdeed. Begotten is the past participle of beget, which comes from the Old English verb begietan “to get, acquire,” which since the second half of the 14th century has meant “to generate offspring; produce as an effect.” Beget is a compound of the prefix be-, a Germanic prefix originally meaning “about, around, on all sides,” with many other meanings, but here having a figurative sense (as also with befall, begin, behave). The verb get is from Old Norse geta “to get, be able to, beget, engender.” Misbegotten entered English in the first half of the 16th century in the sense “illegitimate child.”

how is misbegotten used?

It is long past time to end U.S. support for this misbegotten and unwinnable war.

Editorial Board, "End U.S. support for this misbegotten and unwinnable war," Washington Post, August 18, 2018

Does our respect for companion creatures herald a new way of relating to non-humans, rejecting centuries of misbegotten thinking about animals as unfeeling biological machines?

Brandon Keim, "Dogs and Cats Are Blurring the Lines Between Pets and People," Wired, April 8, 2014

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