a very hard rock, anciently quarried in Egypt, having a dark, purplish-red groundmass containing small crystals of feldspar.
Porphyry “a very hard, dark, purplish-red rock” derives via Middle English from Medieval Latin porphyreum, from Ancient Greek porphyrī́tēs (líthos) “purplish (stone).” The Ancient Greek word for “purple” is pórphyros, which comes from the noun porphýra “kind of shellfish yielding purple dye, the dye, cloth so dyed,” which is of uncertain origin. However, some linguists consider porphýra to have been a loanword from a pre-Greek language or a Semitic source. Porphýra was later borrowed into Latin as purpura and then into Old English as purpure, which became purple in a process known as dissimilation, when a sound in a word changes to become less like another nearby sound. Dissimilation also explains how Latin marmor becomes Old English marmel and then English marble. Porphyry was first recorded in English in the late 14th century.
The perfume of ten thousand flowers drifted upon the winds, which came and went over a thousand gardens, ebbing and flowing like the tide. Clouds of snowy gold and roses rolled across the sky, like the vast rotundas of a city builded of colored ivory. Slowly rising overhead, in windy and ethereal masses, they stood, carvings of pale porphyry upon a turquoise wall. The earth was transfigured with beauty. It was a golden age, when all things were fair; nothing had grown old; even the tragic and the terrible were comely then. Wonder lay on everything. Merely to exist was to be happy.
Objects have long been considered a poor cousin to paintings, but not at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where two recent acquisitions spanning centuries and civilizations were as functional as they were decorative. One is an early Roman vessel used as a cinerary urn …. Elaborately carved from porphyry, a purple-red hard stone that was regarded as a royal material in ancient Rome, the vessel is only about 10 inches high and 9 inches wide and is shaped like a wine bucket, decorated with two intricately carved masks of a bearded Silenus, a mythological figure.
warm and affectionate physical and emotional support and care.
Nurturance “warm physical and emotional care” is a compound of the noun nurture “upbringing; development” and the suffix -ance. Nurture derives via Middle English and Middle French from Late Latin nūtrītūra “a nourishing,” which is equivalent to the Latin verb nūtrīre (stem nūtrīt-) “to feed” plus -ūra, a noun suffix. Nūtrīre is the direct source of English nutrient and nutrition as well as French nourriture “food,” and by way of French, it is the source of nourish and nurse. Notice how the t in the nūtrīt- stem was lost as Latin evolved into French; this process of losing a consonant in the middle of a word is called syncope, and it appears in English when ever and over are abbreviated as e’er and o’er, though apostrophes are not mandatory to indicate syncope. Nurturance was first recorded in English in the late 1930s.
Mothers, Fathers, and Others sifts a wide range of memory, experience and disciplinary perspectives into essays that bring into focus the profound contradictions of motherhood. These contradictions, [prolific novelist and essayist Siri] Hustvedt asserts, are eclipsed by the cultural idealization of mothers as the model of self-sacrificing nurturance. Hustvedt seeks to reclaim the messiness of motherhood. Aren’t we, she asks, all mixed up, a melange, a mess?
ragged; unkempt or dilapidated.
Tatterdemalion “unkempt or dilapidated,” first written tatter-de-mallian, is of uncertain origin, but there are some potential leads. The first element is likely tatter “a torn piece hanging loose from a garment,” from Old Norse tǫturr “rag,” but an alternative proposal based on outdated uses of tatterdemalion connects the term to Tatar or Tartar, a member of one of many ethnic Turkic groups of northwestern and central Asia, and both words once meant “wanderer, vagabond.” The second element, de (also ti), appears to be a common element in fanciful, elaborate, and nonsensical terms, from gobbledegook, hobbledehoy, and slubberdegullion to flibbertigibbet and dandiprat. The significance of the final element, malion, is unfortunately lost to history. Tatterdemalion was first recorded in the first decade of the 17th century.
Overhanging his outer compound wall were the only two remaining shade trees in the citadel, one a dying oak, the other a mulberry tree, and within the compound was a tatterdemalion garden, where a scrawny pomegranate tree drooped with heavy fruit. The house was modest, but with triangular brick architectural flourishes above the door, characteristic of ancient house styles here.
He had paused under one of the rare lamp-posts, gathering up his recollections of the London he had so long quitted, and doubtful for a moment or two which turn to take. Just then, up from an alley fronting him at right angles, came suddenly, warily, a tall, sinewy, ill-boding tatterdemalion figure, and, seeing Darrell’s face under the lamp, halted abrupt at the mouth of the narrow passage from which it had emerged—a dark form filling up the dark aperture.
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