Word of the Day

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

pococurante

[ poh-koh-koo-ran-tee, -rahn-, -kyoo- ]

noun

a careless or indifferent person.

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What is the origin of pococurante?

The English noun and adjective pococurante is a straightforward borrowing from Italian, even retaining its Italian pronunciation. Pococurante in both languages means “caring little, indifferent.” The first element poco in Italian is an indefinite adjective and adverb meaning “little, a little,” descended from the Latin adjective paucus “few” (the Latin adjective is related to Gothic fawai, Old English fēawe, and Middle English fewe, all plural adjectives of indefinite quantity meaning “few”). The Italian adjective curante is the present participle of the verb curare (the Latin forms are cūrant- and cūrāre) “to watch over, look after, cure.” The Latin verb is a derivative of the noun cūra “worry, concern, object of care,” of unknown etymology. Pococurante entered English in the 18th century.

how is pococurante used?

“I believe you are misinformed, sir,” said Jekyl dryly, and then resumed as deftly as he could, his proper character of a pococurante.

Sir Walter Scott, St. Ronan's Well, 1823

Calling a careless person a “pococurante” or other fancy name will not, by the precision of the term, suddenly make the careless careful.

Jeff VanderMeer, The Third Bear, 2010
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Tuesday, May 01, 2018

tussie-mussie

[ tuhs-ee-muhs-ee ]

noun

a small bunch of flowers or herbs.

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What is the origin of tussie-mussie?

There is no clear etymology for tussie-mussie “bunch of flowers, nosegay.” The Middle English form, tusemose, and the 17th-century form tussimussie, suggest an assumed Middle English tus or tusse “cluster of flowers.” Tussie-mussie entered English in the mid-15th century.

how is tussie-mussie used?

The world would be a kinder and gentler place if we all exchanged tussie-mussies instead of badmouthing people behind their backs or unfriending them on Facebook.

Claire Cook, The Wildwater Walking Club: Back on Track, 2017

When those were finished, they turned to the tussie-mussies–handheld herbal nosegays in which each plant has a special significance–for the women guests.

Susan Wittig Albert, Lavender Lies, 1999
Monday, April 30, 2018

Machiavellian

[ mak-ee-uh-vel-ee-uhn ]

adjective

characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty: He resorted to Machiavellian tactics in order to get ahead.

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What is the origin of Machiavellian?

Machiavellian is an adjective derived from Machiavelli, the family name of the Florentine diplomat, historian, and political philosopher Niccolò Bernardo Machiavelli (1469–1527). He wrote his most famous work The Prince (Il Principe) in 1513 while in exile from Florence. Machiavellian entered English in the 16th century.

how is Machiavellian used?

I need to tell you about my shamefully Machiavellian motive for sending her packing and the subdolous way in which her death facilitated my crowning achievement.

Clanash Farjeon, A Handbook for Attendants on the Insane: The Autobiography of 'Jack the Ripper' as Revealed to Clanash Farjeon, 2003

The doctor’s mind pursued its own schemes with Machiavellian subtlety.

Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, 1904

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