Word of the Day

Saturday, April 10, 2021

putative

[ pyoo-tuh-tiv ]

adjective

commonly regarded as such; reputed; supposed.

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What is the origin of putative?

Putative, “supposed, so called, commonly regarded,” ultimately comes from Late Latin putātīvus “considered, reckoned, presumptive,” a derivative of the Latin verb putāre “to think, consider,” originally a farming or country word meaning “to trim, prune (trees), scour or clean (wool); purify, refine (gold).” In Latin putāre is not much used in its original senses, but it is very common in its developed senses, “to go over in the mind, ponder; to go over in words, discuss; estimate, deem, consider.” Putative entered English in the 15th century.

how is putative used?

The putative black hole would have to be feeding at one-millionth of its potential rate if it were there at all, Dr. Gultekin said.

Dennis Overbye, "Missing: One Black Hole With 10 Billion Solar Masses," New York Times, January 19, 2021

Jules had to remember: Oh right, Ibsen, the putative reason Ash had gone to Oslo. Isben’s Ghosts.

Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings, 2013

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Friday, April 09, 2021

behoove

[ bih-hoov ]

verb (used with object)

to be worthwhile to, as for personal profit or advantage.

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What is the origin of behoove?

Behoove, also spelled behove in British English, nowadays is an impersonal verb meaning “it is necessary or proper (for someone to do something).” Behoove comes from Middle English bihoven “to need, be constrained; to be needed or required.” Bihofen, already mostly used as an impersonal verb in Middle English, comes from Old English behōfian, bihōfian “to need, require,” used both personally and impersonally. Behoove entered English before the end of the 9th century.

how is behoove used?

The current pandemic, which has curtailed normal interaction, throws into dramatic relief the central importance of teaching not only for our students’ learning, but also for their overall well-being. It behooves us all, after COVID-19, to build a more resilient system that includes rewards and support that encourage collaboration toward our common educational goal.

Lisa M. Di Bartolomeo and Pablo García Loaeza, "Teaching and Tenure: Part 1," Inside Higher Ed, March 29, 2021

In this troll-saturated context, it’s hard to care about street-level trolls and their movie boycotts. In fact, it would probably behoove us to stop caring about “trolls” at all.

Emma Grey Ellis, "Trolls Are Boring Now," Wired, March 13, 2019

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Thursday, April 08, 2021

cupidity

[ kyoo-pid-i-tee ]

noun

eager or excessive desire, especially to possess something; greed.

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What is the origin of cupidity?

Cupidity “excessive desire; greed” comes from Old French cupidité, from Latin cupiditās (inflectional stem cupiditāt-) “passionate desire, yearning, longing; greed; lust,” a derivative of the adjective cupidus, which has the same meanings. Cupidus is in turn derivative of the verb cupere “to wish, wish for, desire,” which (unfortunately) has no reliable etymology. Cupidity entered English in the 15th century.

how is cupidity used?

Their enemies are not man. They are intolerance, fanaticism, dictatorship, cupidity, hatred and discrimination which lie within the heart of man.

Thich Nhat Hanh to Rev. Martin Luther King, June 1, 1965, in Dialogue, 1965

He rushed with ravenous eagerness at every bait which was offered to his cupidity.

Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James II, Vol. 5,

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