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creative; boldly original.
Promethean is the adjective derived from Prometheus, one of the Titans, the race of divine beings that preceded the Olympian gods (there was bad ichor between the two races). The Greek poet Hesiod interpreted Prometheus as “Forethought”; Prometheus’ twin brother Epimetheus was therefore “Afterthought.” Prometheus and Epimetheus (and Atlas, too) were sons of Iapetus, whose Hebrew equivalent, Japheth, is a son of Noah (Genesis 5:32). Promethean entered English towards the end of the 16th century.
While this work suggests man’s helplessness in the face of nature’s relentless power, Cai’s exhibit suggests an ironic thematic reversal: nature’s state of helplessness in the face of modern man’s relentless, Promethean drive to progress.
That ambivalence is the divided heart of the novel: Gatsby is a dreamer and a “go-for-broke Promethean overreacher,” but—as Corrigan’s former high school teacher tells her, “Gatsby was looking for the wrong things. . . . Money and clothes and Daisy.” He embodies the best and worst qualities of America, resulting in a novel that is simultaneously buoyant and grim, as Corrigan notes.
a short and witty or sarcastic saying or writing.
The noun squib, “a short and witty or sarcastic saying,” dates from the end of the 16th century, a development of its original sense, “a small firework that burns with a hissing noise but doesn’t explode.” The word has no definitive etymology, but it is most likely onomatopoeic. Squib entered English in the first half of the 16th century.
After Bush pulled off his carrier stunt before an awestruck cable universe, Maureen Dowd dipped her fingernails in the old acid and banged out a memorable squib questioning the Top Gun’s swagger …
Throughout it all, he found one way or another to seize the gaze of the media, often by slipping to the press short bits of provocative writing, then known as squibs.
(in music) playful; sportive.
Scherzando, “playful,” is an adjective used in music. Like many musical terms, scherzando is of Italian origin, it being the gerund of the verb scherzare “to joke.” The noun scherzo, “a musical movement or passage of light or playful character,” is another derivative from the verb. Italian scherzare is most likely a borrowing from Middle High German scherzen “to jump for joy, enjoy (oneself).” Scherzando entered English in the second half of the 18th century.
The scherzando character is expressed in rapid gestures high on the guitar, with mercurial changes of tone color, perilous slides, and abrupt silences.
After the opening section in the scherzando mood that Rachmaninov does so wonderfully, he presents us with this gorgeous melody.
the cultivation of vegetables for the home or market.
Starting from the end, the –iculture of olericulture “cultivation of vegetables for the home or market” is familiar to us from compounds like agriculture “the cultivation of land for crops,” and the relatively recent apiculture “beekeeping, especially commercial beekeeping.” The first part of olericulture comes from oleri-, the inflectional stem of the Latin noun olus (also holus) “a vegetable, vegetables, kitchen herb,” which is related to the adjective helvus “yellowish, dun (of cattle).” Helvus is the Latin result of the Proto-Indo-European adjective ghelwos “bright, yellow,” a derivative of the Proto-Indo-European root ghel– “to shine,” a root that is particularly associated with colors. Latin has another adjective gilvus “yellowish” (used of domestic animals), a borrowing from a Celtic language. Much, much closer to home, ghelwos becomes gelwa– in the Germanic languages, the source of English yellow. Olericulture entered English in the second half of the 19th century.
… he offered his 7-year-old grandson a daily tutorial in olericulture in his backyard field of bounty.
As either a lecture or a recitation course alone olericulture is not likely to prove a shining success. It should be accompanied by a definite laboratory course, in which the actual materials of the garden may be studied first hand.
the appearance or semblance of truth; likelihood; probability: The play lacked verisimilitude.
Verisimilitude, “the appearance or semblance of truth; probability,” comes via French similitude from Latin vērīsimilitūdō (also written as an open compound vērī similitūdō), an uncommon noun meaning “probability, plausibility,” literally “resemblance to the truth.” Similitūdō is a derivative of the adjective similis “like, resembling, similar,” which governs the genitive case. Vērī is the genitive singular of vērum, a noun use of the neuter gender of the adjective vērus “true, real.” Vera, the female personal name, is the feminine singular of vērus and is related to the Slavic (Russian) female name Vera, which is also used as a common noun (vera) meaning “faith, good faith, trust.” The Latin and Slavic forms come from a Proto-Indo-European root wer-, werǝ-, wēr– “true, trustworthy.” In Germanic wērā became Vār in Old Norse, the goddess of faithful oaths. Verisimilitude entered English in the early 17th century.
Every beast you see here, from elephant to elephant shrew, and every square inch of habitat, from desert sand to belching mud, is computer-created, and one can but marvel at the verisimilitude.
According to O’Brien, artificial intelligence will soon push the verisimilitude of computer-generated fake images and videos beyond what even skilled human editors can produce.
physical or mental quickness; nimbleness; agility.
Legerity, “mental or physical agility,” comes from Middle French legereté “lightness, thoughtlessness,” a derivative of leger, liger “light (in weight).” Leger is a regular French phonological development of Vulgar Latin leviārius “light (in weight),” equivalent to Latin levis. The original and now obsolete English meaning of legerity was “lack of seriousness, frivolity” (its French sense). The current sense “nimbleness, quickness” dates from the end of the 16th century.
Alighting with the legerity of a cat, he swerved leftward in the recoil, and was off, like a streak of mulberry-coloured lightning, down the High.
With such legerity of mind, how could I not study physics?
a person who flouts rules, conventions, or accepted practices.
Scofflaw, a transparent compound of the verb scoff “to deride, mock” and the noun law, was originally an Americanism coined during Prohibition. In 1923 Delcevare King, a wealthy prohibitionist from Quincy, Massachusetts, offered $200 in a contest for a word that best described “a lawless drinker of illegally made or illegally obtained liquor.” On January 15, 1924, the Boston Herald declared scofflaw the winner. Scofflaw had been submitted by Henry Dale and Kate Butler, two of the 25,000 contestants, who shared the prize.
Even then, he had a reputation as a scofflaw. He had exaggerated his war record. He first ran for Senate (and lost) while he was still in uniform, which was against Army regulations, and he ran his second Senate campaign while he was a sitting judge, a violation of his oath.
Larry David identified this breed of scofflaw [the two-space parker] as the “pig parker.”