covered with a frostlike bloom or powdery secretion, as a plant surface.
Pruinose “covered with a frostlike bloom or powdery secretion” comes from Latin pruīnōsus “frosty,” from pruīna “frost” and the adjectival suffix -ōsus “full of, consisting of.” Pruīna and frost are in fact distantly related; just as we learned from the recent Word of the Day corvine that Latin c often corresponds to English h (compare cor/heart and caput/head), Latin p often corresponds to English f. This pattern can also be seen in pairs such as Latin pater and English father, Latin paucus and English few, Latin pēs and English foot, and English farrow “litter of pigs” and Latin porcus “pig.” Pruinose was first recorded in English in the 1820s.
Native to Mexico, ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense) are evergreen plants with light blue to gray, pink foliage that give it a “ghostly” appearance due to a powdery coating known as pruinose that covers the plant’s leaves.
The guidebooks are full of other gorgeous words to describe these creatures with the biplane wings. Teneral bugs are those that recently emerged from their shed skins, known as exuviae, and must rest undisturbed while their shells harden. Pruinose describes the blue or white powder that covers the insects as they age.
a framework of doctrines, ideas, beliefs, or the like, constructed around a person or object, endowing the person or object with enhanced value or profound meaning.
Mystique “a framework of ideas endowing a person with profound meaning” is a borrowing from French and is cognate to English mystic. Both mystic and mystique derive by way of Latin from Ancient Greek mýstēs “initiate into the mysteries”; mysteries, in this context, are sacred rites and customs only known to a small, select group of people—much like how only one person or a few people know the facts behind a mystery. Mýstēs comes from the verb myeîn “to initiate, teach,” from the similarly spelled verb mýein “to close (the lips or eyes).” The implication here is that, when new initiates are exposed to the mysteries, they will stay close-lipped about what they see. Mystique was first recorded in English in the early 1890s.
It’s clear why legendary Scottish warrior Scáthach chose this tucked-away-from-the-world spot to found her impenetrable college of martial combat. Promising students would come from far and wide to train in warfare and sorcery here, and to learn in secret from perhaps the greatest fighter the Celtic realms have ever known. But what ultimately happened to the powerful warrior queen Scáthach remains a mystery; the lack of any known tomb only adds to her mystique. Since the Middle Ages, legend has it that she’ll return when the world needs her most.
Timbuktu conjures up images of long camel caravans out on the edge of the sand-strewn Sahara—a remoteness so legendary that the ancient city is still a byword for the end of the earth …. Even the spelling of the place has added to the mystique. It appeared as “Tenbuch” in the Catalan Atlas (1375) and has since been variously rendered as “Thambet,” “Timbuctoo” and “Timbuktoo.” In official documents produced by the government of France, Mali’s former colonial master, it is often spelled “Tombouctou.”
a whimsical or fanciful ornament or contrivance; gimmick.
Whigmaleerie “a whimsical or fanciful ornament or contrivance” is a noun from Scots, a language that is spoken today by over one million people in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Scots is not the same as Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic language closely related to Irish Gaelic; instead, Scots and modern English both descend from Middle English and diverged approximately 800 years ago. Whigmaleerie, earlier figmalirie, is most likely a fanciful and elaborate invention based on common elements in expressive words. The initial fig– could be based on Scots fig “to move briskly” (perhaps related to fidget), while the medial –ma– could be inspired by the similar-sounding syllable in words such as rigmarole and thingamabob. Whigmaleerie was first recorded in English in the 1720s.
The Cathedral itself corresponds in impressive majesty with these accompaniments. We feel that its appearance is heavy, yet that the effect produced would be destroyed were it lighter or more ornamental. … Andrew Fairservice, who saw with great pride the effect which it produced upon my mind, thus accounted for its preservation. ‘Ah! [I]t’s a brave kirk—nane o’ yere whigmaleeries and curliewurlies and open-steek hems about it[.’]
“Jewelry-making is a big cottage industry here. Would you like to stop at one of the shops and look over the whigmaleeries?” …. They had paused at a window display that seemed to Dee like the open mouth of a pirate’s treasure cave. Strings of richly glowing pearls in every color imaginable hung from perches and gleamed in overflowing baskets. There were pearl bracelets, pearl earrings, armlets, pins, hair ornaments, and rings.
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