Word of the Day

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

pullulate

[ puhl-yuh-leyt ]

verb

to breed, produce, or create rapidly.

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What is the origin of pullulate?

The English verb pullulate derives from the Latin verb pullulāre “to sprout, put forth shoots, bring forth,” a derivative of the noun pullus “young animal, foal.” The Latin words derive from the Proto-Indo-European root pau-, pōu-, pū- (with various suffixes) “little, small, few.” The suffixed forms pau-o- and pau-ko form Germanic (English) few and Latin paucus “small, slight,” respectively (the Latin adjective is also the source of Spanish and Italian poco). The suffixed form pō-los yields Greek pôlos “foal, young girl, young boy,” and Germanic (English) foal. The suffixed form pu-er- forms Latin puer “boy” and puella “girl” (from assumed puerla). Pullulate entered English in the early 17th century.

how is pullulate used?

Abundant foodstuffs, a benign climate, lack of natural enemies, high reproductive rate, minimal shooting pressure, and adequate habitat had all combined to allow the birds to pullulate wildly out of control–in fact to reach pestilential proportions.

Stuart Williams, "Andean Doves Come High," Field & Stream, July 1972

It is evident, for anyone with eyes to see, that for half a century, animals and people alike have tended to multiply, to proliferate, to pullulate in a truly disquieting proportion.

Eugene Mouton, "The End of the World," 1872
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Monday, March 19, 2018

dornick

[ dawr-nik ]

noun

a small stone that is easy to throw.

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What is the origin of dornick?

Dornick is an Americanism dating back to 1830–40 from Irish dornóg “small stone, handful,” from dorn “fist.”

how is dornick used?

Indulging a few moments’ contemplation of its freckled rind, I broke it open with a stone, a rock, a dornick, in boy’s language.

Mark Twain, "Mighty Mark Twain Overawes Marines," New York Times, May 12, 1907

The rock throwers must have been cads or they wouldn’t have flung a dornick at that small bundle of pink-and-white loveliness …

Pete Martin, Have Tux, Will Travel, 1954
Sunday, March 18, 2018

polemology

[ poh-luh-mol-uh-jee ]

noun

the analysis of human conflict and war, particularly international war.

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What is the origin of polemology?

Polemology was first recorded in 1935–40. It comes from Greek pólemos “war” and -logy, a combining form used in the names of bodies of knowledge.

how is polemology used?

Closely related to the surge of interest in aggressive human behavior is the rise of a new science: polemology.

Walter Sullivan, "An Attack on Man the Aggressor," New York Times, August 26, 1968

For the study of Greek warfare, or the polemology of ancient Greece, cannot be separated from the project of a general, very broadly political history of ancient Greek civic mentality, social structure and economic organization.

Paul Cartledge, Spartan Reflections, 2001
Saturday, March 17, 2018

craic

[ krak ]

noun

fun and entertainment, especially good conversation and company (often preceded by the): Come for the beer, lads, and stay for the craic!

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What is the origin of craic?

Craic is an Irish Gaelic spelling that represents the English pronunciation of English crack and was then taken back into English. English crack was apparently introduced from Scots into Irish English via Northern Ireland (Ulster) in the mid-20th century and was thereafter adopted into Irish Gaelic and Irish English. In Scottish English and in northern English dialect, crack has the sense “chat, gossip,” which may be the source of craic. Alternatively, craic may be a shortening of crack “witty remark, wisecrack.” Craic entered English in the 20th century.

how is craic used?

The public bar’s men only so I haven’t been in since we got back. … I’ve been missing the craic there.

Patrick Taylor, Fingal O'Reilly, Irish Doctor, 2013

The craic now was two doors down, where a bunch of lads were drinking Harp lager, eating fish and chips, and playing what sounded like Dinah Washington from a portable record player on a long lead outside Bobby Cameron’s house.

Adrian McKinty, Gun Street Girl, 2015
Friday, March 16, 2018

bunglesome

[ buhng-guh l-suh m ]

adjective

clumsy or awkward.

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What is the origin of bunglesome?

Bunglesome is an Americanism dating back to 1885–90.

how is bunglesome used?

He is a little awkward, a little bunglesome in starting, but if you would–could exercise just a little patience for a few days–a day, I am sure he would please you.

Oscar Micheaux, The Homesteader, 1917

To the traveler coming down from Florence to Rome in the summertime, the larger, more ancient city is bound to be a disappointment. It is bunglesome; nothing is orderly or planned; there is a tangle of electric wires and tramlines, a ceaseless clamor of traffic.

Elizabeth Spencer, The Light in the Piazza, 1960
Thursday, March 15, 2018

dekko

[ dek-oh ]

noun

British Slang. a look or glance.

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What is the origin of dekko?

It is hard to believe that dekko, originally British army slang meaning “to look; a look,” is related to dragon. Dekko and dragon both ultimately come from the Proto-Indo-European root derk- (and its variant dṛk-) “to see, look.” The form derk- forms Greek dérkesthai “to look”; the variant dṛk- forms the Greek aorist (a kind of past tense) édrakon “I saw, looked,” the aorist active participle drakṓn “looking,” and the noun drákōn “serpent, (huge) snake,” also the name of a winged mythical monster, half reptilian, half mammalian, whose look could kill. In Sanskrit the root derk- forms the causative verb darśáyati “(he) makes see.” The Sanskrit root darś-, dṛś- develops into the Hindi root dekh- “to see,” which forms the infinitive dekhnā “to see,” and the imperative dekho “look, see.” Dekko entered English in the late 19th century.

how is dekko used?

I’ll have a dekko at the furnace, and see what tools I need.

Helen Dunmore, The Lie, 2014

Oh yes, he’s here, replied Monteiro Rossi, but he doesn’t like to burst in just like that, he’s sent me on ahead to take a dekko.

Antonio Tabucchi, Pereira Declares, translated by Patrick Creagh, 1995
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

circumferential

[ ser-kuhm-fuh-ren-shuh l ]

adjective

surrounding; lying along the outskirts; of, at, or near the circumference.

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What is the origin of circumferential?

Circumferential nowadays means only “surrounding, on the outskirts or periphery of.” In the late 17th century circumferential had the additional meaning “indirect, roundabout.” Circumferential entered English in the early 17th century.

how is circumferential used?

Now bees, as may be clearly seen by examining the edge of a growing comb, do make a rough, circumferential wall or rim all round the comb …

Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1859

Far away in the circumferential wall a little doorway looked like Heaven, and he set off in a wild rush for it.

H. G. Wells, "The Country of the Blind," The Strand Magazine, April 1904

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