Word of the Day

Saturday, August 18, 2018

prima facie

[ prahy-muh fey-shee-ee, fey-shee, fey-shuh, pree- ]

adjective

plain or clear; self-evident; obvious.

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What is the origin of prima facie?

The English phrase prima facie is obviously Latin: prīmā faciē (ablative singular in form) means “at first sight.” (Faciēs has very many meanings: “physical or outward appearance, looks, sight, scene, good looks,….”) It is not incredible that the English phrase at first blush is a literal translation of the Latin phrase: blush, a noun meaning “glance, sight,” is obsolete except for the phrase at (on) (the) first blush. Prima facie entered English in the 15th century.

how is prima facie used?

McCain and Palin have been quoting this remark ever since, offering it as prima-facie evidence of Obama’s unsuitability for office.

Hendrik Hertzberg, "Like, Socialism," The New Yorker, November 3, 2008

There was no prima-facie absurdity in his hypothesis—and experiment was the sole means of demonstrating its truth or falsity.

Thomas H. Huxley, "William Harvey," Popular Science Monthly, March 1878
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Friday, August 17, 2018

corpocracy

[ kawr-pok-ruh-see ]

noun

a society in which corporations have much economic and political power.

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What is the origin of corpocracy?

Corpocracy is an unlovely compound noun formed from corporate or corporation plus the common combining form -cracy, ultimately from the Greek combining form -kratía, formed from krátos “strength, power,” and the noun suffix -ía. Corpocracy is not a recent word: it first appears in print in 1935, right smack in the middle of the Great Depression, during FDR’s first term.

how is corpocracy used?

Whether you are in business or government, you will be members of the same corpocracy. In the West, there are tensions between government and business elites. In China, these elites are part of the same social web, cooperating for mutual enrichment.

David Brooks, "The Dictatorship of Talent," New York Times, December 4, 2007

… David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” features a futuristic South Korea-inspired “corpocracy,” a hotbed of clones, plastic surgery (“facescaping”), and insurrection.

Ed Park, "Sorry Not Sorry," The New Yorker, October 19, 2015
Thursday, August 16, 2018

anodyne

[ an-uh-dahyn ]

noun

anything that relieves distress or pain: The music was an anodyne to his grief.

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What is the origin of anodyne?

Anodyne has a surprising etymology. Its Greek original, anṓdynos “painless,” breaks down to the elements an-, ṓd-, -yn-, -os-. The first element, an- “not,” is from the same Proto-Indo-European source as Latin in- and Germanic (English) un-. The second to last element -yn- is from the noun suffix -ýnē; the last element, -os, is an adjective ending. The main element odýnē “pain” (édyna in the Aeolic dialect) consists of ṓd-, a derivative of the Greek root ed-, od- from the Proto-Indo-European root ed-, od- “to eat” (source of Latin edere, Germanic (Old English) etan, Hittite et-, Homeric Greek édmenai, all meaning “eat, to eat.”) In Greek odýnē is something that eats you (cf. colloquial English, “What’s eating you?”). The Germanic languages also have the compound verb fra-etan “to eat up, devour,” which becomes in German fressen “devour, gorge, corrode,” and in Old English fretan “to devour,” English fret, which nowadays usually has only its extended sense “feel worry or pain.” Anodyne entered English in the 16th century.

how is anodyne used?

… he realized that then, and now, work had been an anodyne of sorts. It had occupied his mind.

Patrick Taylor, An Irish Country Courtship, 2010

… he would run down the great staircase, with its lions of gilt bronze and its steps of bright porphyry, and wander from room to room, and from corridor to corridor, like one who was seeking to find beauty an anodyne from pain, a sort of restoration from sickness.

Oscar Wilde, "The Young King," A House of Pomegranates, 1891

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