Word of the Day

Friday, May 14, 2021

pulchritudinous

[ puhl-kri-tood-n-uhs, -tyood- ]

adjective

physically beautiful.

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What is the origin of pulchritudinous?

Pulchritudinous, “physically beautiful,” first occurs in 1877 in Puck, the first successful American humor magazine, and all the occurrences of pulchritudinous are facetious or humorous. Pulchritudinous is formed from the Latin noun pulchritūdō (inflectional stem pulchritūdin-) “beauty” and the adjective suffix –ous.

how is pulchritudinous used?

And now, ladies and gentlemen, a very big round of applause for our next act! Captain Boytom and his pulchritudinous pachyderms!

Chaplin, directed by Richard Attenborough, 1992

As Moira Rose might say, what a pulchritudinous eventide!

E. Alex Jung, "Dan Levy on Schitt's Creek's Fulsome, Splendrous Emmys Night," New York, September 22, 2020

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Thursday, May 13, 2021

sine die

[ sahy-nee -dahy-ee, sin-ey-dee-ey; Latin si-ne -dee-e ]

adverb

without fixing a day for future action or meeting.

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What is the origin of sine die?

Sine die in English means “without a day (set for resuming business).” It is a Latin phrase composed of the preposition sine “without” (sine governs the ablative case) and diē, the ablative singular of the noun diēs “day.” Sine diē is not a technical term in Roman law, political procedure, or religion; it is a Latin phrase used nearly exclusively in modern British and American legislative, court, and corporate procedures. Sine die entered English in the 17th century.

how is sine die used?

I seized the opportunity to imply some mild annoyance and postpone the interview sine die. I’d had enough.

Colbert Kearney, The Consequence, 1993

On the last day of arguments, May 13, she announced that the court was adjourned “sine die,” a Latin phrase indicating it was uncertain, because of the pandemic, when the court would next meet in a public session.

Jessica Gresko, "2 female firsts at the Supreme Court announce retirements," Associate Press, July 7, 2020

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

boondoggle

[ boon-dog-uh l, -daw-guh l ]

noun

a wasteful and worthless project undertaken for political, corporate, or personal gain, typically a government project funded by taxpayers.

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What is the origin of boondoggle?

Boondoggle, originally a term from the Boy Scouts meaning “a product of simple manual skill, such as a plaited cord for the neck or a knife sheath, typically made by a Boy Scout,” was supposedly coined in the mid-1920s by Robert H. Link, of Rochester, New York, as a nickname for his infant son. In the summer of 1929, Link, a Scoutmaster, attended the World Boy Scouts Jamboree in Birkenhead, England, not far from Liverpool. Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), attended the Jamboree, at which the Scouts from the U.S. presented him with a boondoggle, now meaning “a plaited leather cord or lanyard worn around the neck” (the presentation was reported in the American and British press). By the mid-1930s boondoggle had acquired the sense “a kind of make-work consisting of small items of leather or crafted by the jobless during the Great Depression.” This last sense is the source of the usual modern sense of boondoggle, “a wasteful and worthless project undertaken for political, corporate, or personal gain,” and it is especially used of government projects funded by taxpayers.

how is boondoggle used?

Critics of operating the ISS past its prime say it’s a boondoggle that was built, in part, because the United States needed somewhere to send its space shuttles.

Marina Koren, "What Should We Do About the International Space Station," The Atlantic, June 6, 2018

Environmentalists have suggested the effort to divert water would result in a $1 billion boondoggle, but supporters argue that the project is vital to supplying communities and irrigation districts in southwestern New Mexico with a new source of water as drought persists.

"Plan calls for diverting, storing water from Gila River," Associated Press, April 17, 2020

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