Word of the Day

Friday, April 26, 2019

pseudepigraphy

[ soo-duh-pig-ruh-fee ]

noun

the false ascription of a piece of writing to an author.

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What is the origin of pseudepigraphy?

The noun pseudepigraphy comes from Late Latin pseudepigrapha, a neuter plural adjective (from pseudepigraphus) used as a noun meaning “books or writings falsely titled or attributed to Hebrew writings supposedly composed by biblical patriarchs and prophets.” Pseudepigrapha was borrowed unchanged from the Greek compound adjective pseudepígrapha (from pseudepígraphos), composed of pseudḗs “false” and the Greek combining form –grapha, neuter plural of –graphos “drawn or written.” Pseudepigraphy entered English in the 19th century.

how is pseudepigraphy used?

If de León was the author, his exercise in pseudepigraphy was among the most successful in history.

Ezra Glinter, "A mysterious medieval text, decrypted," Boston Globe, June 26, 2016

Even this gimmick exactly parallels the ancient scriptural practice of pseudepigraphy whereby a later, undistinguished writer, would hide behind the name of a greater figure of the past, claiming venerable authority for his own innovations.

Robert M. Price, "About 'The Descent into the Abyss'," The Book of Eibon, 2006
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Thursday, April 25, 2019

frisson

[ free-sohn; French free-sawn ]

noun,

a sudden, passing sensation of excitement; a shudder of emotion; thrill: The movie offers the viewer the occasional frisson of seeing a character in mortal danger.

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What is the origin of frisson?

Frisson is still unnaturalized in English, as its pronunciation shows. In French frisson means “shudder, shiver.” Frisson comes from Old French friçons, a plural noun meaning “trembling (as before the onset of a fever).” Friçons in turn comes from Latin frictiōn-, the stem of frictiō, an irregular derivative (as if from the verb fricāre “to rub,” with a short i) of the verb frīgēre (with a long i) “to be cold, lack vigor.” Frisson entered English in the 18th century.

how is frisson used?

Musical passages that include unexpected harmonies, sudden changes in volume, or the moving entrance of a soloist are particularly common triggers for frisson because they violate listeners’ expectations in a positive way …

Mitchell Colver, "Why do only some people get 'skin orgasms' from listening to music?" The Conversation, May 24, 2016

That first dinner triggers hope, a frisson of discovery.

Gael Greene, "Patric's Day," New York, March 23, 1992
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

rhubarb

[ roo-bahrb ]

noun

a quarrel or squabble.

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What is the origin of rhubarb?

Rhubarb has a complicated origin. There are several odd Middle English spellings (as one would expect), e.g., reubarb, reubard, reubarbe, etc., from Anglo-French or Middle French reubarbe, rubarbe, reu barbare, all from Late Latin reubarbarum, rheubarbarum. The Latin forms are probably from Greek rhêon bárbaron “foreign rhubarb.” Rhêon is a variant of rhâ “the dried root of rhubarb used as a medicine,” perhaps ultimately related to Persian (an Iranian language) rewend “rhubarb.” Ancient Greek authors also associated rhâ (or Rhâ) with the Scythian (another Iranian language) name for the Volga River. The baseball slang meaning of rhubarb “a loud quarrel on the field, especially between a player and an umpire,” dates from about 1938. Rhubarb entered English in the late 14th century.

how is rhubarb used?

Power, newly acquired from the Minnesota Twins, was accused of the action during a rhubarb with the umpire on a play at third base.

Jet, "'Spitting' Accusation May Cost Vic Power $1,750," July 30, 1964

… Tom Meany stopped in a tavern the day after this thing happened … and the bartender said, “We had quite the rhubarb last night, Mr. Meany.”

Red Barber and Robert Creamer, Rhubarb in the Catbird Seat, 1968

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