Word of the Day

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

posterity

[ po-ster-i-tee ]

noun

succeeding or future generations collectively: Judgment of this age must be left to posterity.

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What is the origin of posterity?

Posterity “future generations” is a straightforward word. It comes from Middle English posterite, posteriti “a person’s offspring, a family’s successive generations,” partly from Old French posterite, and partly from Latin posteritās (stem posteritāt-), which has the same meanings as in Old French and Middle English. Posteritās is a derivative of the adjective posterus “future, later”; its plural, posterī, means “one’s descendants; future generations.” Latin posterior “later, later of two, younger” is the comparative of posterus, and is familiar enough in English (the humorous, colloquial noun posterior or posteriors in the sense “buttocks” originated within English in the early 17th century; the sense does not exist in Latin). Posterity entered English in the 14th century.

how is posterity used?

Climate change is a tragedy, but Rich makes clear that it is also a crime—a thing that bad people knowingly made worse, for their personal gain. That, I suspect, is one of the many aspects to the climate change battle that posterity will find it hard to believe, and impossible to forgive.

John Lanchester, "Two Books Dramatically Capture the Climate Change Crisis," New York Times, April 12, 2019

The act of 1866 gave the Freedmen’s Bureau its final form, the form by which it will be known to posterity and judged of men.

W.E.B. Du Bois, "Of the Dawn of Freedom," The Souls of Black Folk, 1903

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Monday, July 06, 2020

bailiwick

[ bey-luh-wik ]

noun

a person's area of skill, knowledge, authority, or work: to confine suggestions to one's own bailiwick.

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What is the origin of bailiwick?

Bailiwick nowadays means “one’s area of skill, knowledge, authority, or work,” and less commonly, its original sense “the district within which a bailiff has jurisdiction.” Bailiwick comes from Middle English baillifwik (bailliwik, bailewik), a compound noun formed from bailliff “an officer of the court; an official with minor local authority” and wick (wic, wike, wicke) “dwelling, home, village, town, city,” from Old English wīc “dwelling place, abode,” from Latin vīcus “village; a block (in a town or city often forming an administrative unit),” which appears in placenames such as Sandwich (on the coast of Kent), Old English Sandwic, Sondwic “market town on sandy soil, or Warwick “village by the weir (low dam).” Bailiwick entered English in the mid-15th century.

how is bailiwick used?

He was spooning up gelato but talking about music, which is his bailiwick, if it’s anybody’s.

Nick Paumgarten, "The Man Who Was There," The New Yorker, March 26, 2007

I wasn’t surprised to see him there because this was an action venue that was right in his political bailiwick

Herb Boyd, "George Curry (1947-2016): An Advocate and Soldier for Black Media," Ebony, August 23, 2016

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Sunday, July 05, 2020

hitherto

[ hith-er-too ]

adverb

up to this time; until now: a fact hitherto unknown.

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What is the origin of hitherto?

The adverb hitherto, “up to this time or place,” comes from Middle English hiderto; the modern spelling with th replacing d first appears in Wycliffe’s Bible (1382). Hitherto seems to have completely replaced hiderto by the time of Tyndale’s translation of the Bible in 1526. Hiderto first appears in English in the first half of the 13th century.

how is hitherto used?

The attention suddenly lavished on this hitherto obscure doctrine is surprising, but heartening, to anyone who has long labored in the civil-rights field …

Eric Schnurer, "Congress Is Going to Have to Repeal Qualified Immunity," The Atlantic, June 17, 2020

A team of archaeologists found “new evidence for hitherto unknown features or monumental structures” about two miles northeast of Stonehenge …

Becky Ferreira, "Scientists Found a Mysterious Structure of Deep Shafts Near Stonehenge," Vice, June 23, 2020

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Saturday, July 04, 2020

egalitarian

[ ih-gal-i-tair-ee-uhn ]

adjective

asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, economic, or social life.

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What is the origin of egalitarian?

The English adjective and noun egalitarian “asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, economic, or social life,“ comes from the French adjective and noun égalitaire of the same meaning. Égalitaire is a derivative of the noun égalité “equality,” but in English égalité is usually used in allusion to the French Revolutionary motto liberté, égalité, fraternité “liberty, equality, fraternity.” (Égalité first appears in English in 1794 in a letter written by vice president John Adams to his wife Abigail: “I hope my old Friend, will never meet the Fate of another Preacher of Égalité, who was I fear almost as sincere as himself.”) Égalité is a derivative of the adjective égal, from the Latin adjective aequālis “equal (in amount, size, duration, etc.), symmetrical, uniform, contemporary” (as a noun, aequālis means “a person of the same age as another, a contemporary, a person of equal rank or ability.” Egalitarian entered English in the late 19th century.

how is egalitarian used?

If we do not learn the lessons of history and choose a radically different path forward, we may lose our last chance at creating a truly inclusive, egalitarian democracy.

Michelle Alexander, "America, This Is Your Chance," New York Times, June 8, 2020

Our commitment to egalitarian ideals has been severely tested by everything from the untenable quality of the United States’s yawning wealth gap to the resurgence of an ethno-nationalism that has led to anti-humanitarian policies against Latinx migrants and Muslim families.

Robert L. Tsai, "What Is Inequality?" Los Angeles Review of Books, August 22, 2019

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Friday, July 03, 2020

vox populi

[ voks pop-yuh-lahy ]

noun

the voice of the people; popular opinion.

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What is the origin of vox populi?

The phrase vox populi comes straight from Latin vōx populī “voice of the people.” Vōx (inflectional stem vōc-) is the source of English vocal and vowel, via Old French vouel, from Latin (littera) vōcālis “sounding (letter).” Populī is the genitive singular of the noun populus, the collective name for the Roman citizen body, excluding women, children, foreigners, and slaves. The phrase vōx populī does not occur in Latin literature and only first appears in a letter that the great Anglo-Saxon scholar Alcuin wrote to Charlemagne in 798, not to pay heed to those who insist that vōx populī vōx Deī “the voice of the people is the voice of God” because the populace is too unstable–a sentiment the Romans would agree with entirely. In later English history (after Alcuin), vōx populī vōx Deī is favorable, a notable example being the title of a Whig tract entitled Vox Populi, Vox Dei: being true Maxims of Government (1710). The abbreviated phrase vox pop “the views of the majority of people, popular opinion” appears in the first half of the 18th century. Nowadays vox pop means “popular opinion as shown by comments made to the media by members of the public.” Vox populi entered English in the mid-16th century.

how is vox populi used?

In 1972, Democrats made their process more plebiscitary—more primaries, less influence for political professionals—to elicit and echo the vox populi.

George F. Will, "The lure of kamikaze candidates," Washington Post, February 7, 2020

But in this country, the process of language reform is complicated. It’s not exactly grassroots democracy; some voices count more than others, and people usually leave typographical niceties to the expert associations concerned with them. What vox populi retains is veto power.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, "The Case for Capitalizing the B in Black," The Atlantic, June 18, 2020

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Thursday, July 02, 2020

repudiate

[ ri-pyoo-dee-eyt ]

verb (used with object)

to reject with disapproval or condemnation: to repudiate a new doctrine.

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What is the origin of repudiate?

Repudiate comes straight from Latin repudiāt-, the past participle stem of repudiāre “to reject formally (as a prospective husband or wife), divorce, reject,” a derivative of the noun repudium. Repudium is derived from the prefix re-, completely naturalized in English, indicating repetition or withdrawal, and the verb pudēre “to fill with shame, make ashamed.” From pudēre Latin derives the adjectives impudēns (inflectional stem impudent-) “shameless,” English impudent, and pudendus “of what one ought to be ashamed, disgraceful.” Repudiate entered English in the 16th century.

how is repudiate used?

In college, Gadsby studied art history, and in “Douglas” she aims to repudiate what she learned about institutionalized beauty, which, in her view, has no relationship to joy or inspiration.

Hilton Als, "Hannah Gadsby's Song of the Self," The New Yorker, July 22, 2019

States as well as individuals must repudiate racial, religious, or other discrimination in violation of those rights.

Declaration on World Peace, issued as pamphlet, October 7, 1943

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Wednesday, July 01, 2020

staycation

[ stey-key-shuhn ]

noun

a vacation spent at home or near home, doing enjoyable activities or visiting local attractions.

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What is the origin of staycation?

Staycation, a portmanteau word, as Lewis Carroll would call it, formed from stay and vacation, is associated with the Great Recession of 2007–09. Actually, staycation is considerably older: It was originally an Americanism, and it first appeared in print in 1944, in the middle of World War II, when gasoline and automobile tires (among much else) were strictly rationed.

how is staycation used?

Washington’s hospitality and tourism industry … will be ready to accommodate Seattleites and Washingtonians, because everyone expects this will be the summer of the staycation.

Gregory Scruggs, "Summer isn't canceled: Embrace the staycation as coronavirus travel restrictions ease in Washington," Seattle Times, May 22, 2020

As relatively new residents of Philadelphia, we’re planning a staycation in our new hometown. We’ll finally plow through our lengthy backlist of streaming movies and shows.

Anne Marie Gold, quoted in "With Travel Plans in Flux, Readers Share Their 'Staycation' Ideas," New York Times, March 18, 2020

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