Word of the Day

Word of the day

Saturday, October 16, 2021

quickhatch

[ kwik-hach ]

noun

a wolverine.

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What is the origin of quickhatch?

Quickhatch “wolverine” is a borrowing of East Cree kwi˙hkwaha˙če˙w, with the spelling and pronunciation altered significantly probably because of association with the similar-sounding yet unrelated words quick and hatch. East Cree belongs to the Algonquian family of languages, and the cognate of kwi˙hkwaha˙če˙w in East Cree’s close relative Montagnais was kwa·hkwa·če·w, which was borrowed into French and became carcajou, another name for the wolverine. Wolverines are also known as gluttons, and while glutton is of Latin origin, it is used as a name for wolverines as a translation of German Vielfrass “eating much.” Quickhatch was first recorded in English in the late 1600s.

how is quickhatch used?

He is sometimes called wolverine .… The European labourers in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company call him Quickhatch …. Some people seem to think that he is a variety of the badger; others, that he is a kind of bear. The glutton is so greedy that he stuffs himself till he is ready to burst. But some writers say that this is fable. But all agree that he is very troublesome to man.

Thomas Jackson, Stories about Animals, 1874

The wolverine—also called the mountain devil, the quickhatch, the carcajou, the skunk bear––is a cantankerous, and sometimes vicious animal about the size of a small labrador retriever. It is the largest land dweller in the weasel family, and an an odd fit to be at the vanguard in the debate of how climate change threatens animals and what should be done about it.

J. Weston Phippen, "Great News For Wolverines, and a Lashing For U.S. Fish and Wildlife," The Atlantic, April 8, 2016

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Word of the day

Friday, October 15, 2021

penumbral

[ pi-nuhm-bruhl ]

adjective

relating to or being a shadowy, indefinite, or marginal area.

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What is the origin of penumbral?

Penumbral “relating to or being a shadowy area” is the adjectival form of New Latin penumbra, which 17th-century astronomer Johannes Kepler coined in 1604 as a combination of Latin paene “almost” and umbra “shade.” Umbra is also the source of the English terms somber, umber, umbrage, and umbrella, all of which originally had senses related to shadows or darkness. While penumbra and umbra in the context of astronomy today both refer to the shadow that results when a planetary body cuts off direct light, a penumbra results when the light is only partially cut off, while an umbra results when the light is fully blocked. Penumbral was first recorded in English in the 1660s.

how is penumbral used?

The lock buzzed and she pushed inward to a claustrophobic hall of black-painted walls and sticky green carpet. Beyond that, a narrow staircase led down to a nightclub that managed to be both garish and penumbral. Nearly a dozen rooms ran off the lower corridor, which finally opened into a dance floor and bar. On the wall was a pair of crossed scimitars, vaguely Baltic in origin.

Christopher Fowler, Bryant & May: Strange Tide, 2016

After a while the darkness gets the better of her. It cannot even be called darkness anymore, since she’s begun to see bluish filaments of lights coiling and uncoiling like glowing threads in the space above her .… When she can no longer resist—it’s either turn on the light or continue to pinch her face to remind herself she has form and heft and isn’t merely a pair of eyes connected to a brain in shapeless dark—the penlight throws a ghostly penumbral beam on the far wall, temporarily banishing these.

Brian Van Reet, Spoils, 2017

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Word of the day

Thursday, October 14, 2021

chaebol

[ je-buhl ]

noun

a South Korean conglomerate, usually owned by a single family, based on authoritarian management and centralized decision-making.

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What is the origin of chaebol?

Chaebol “a South Korean conglomerate” is a direct borrowing from Korean and is composed of chae “wealth, property” and pŏl “clique, faction.” However, while chaebol is a Korean term, its origins lie across the Sea of Japan; chaebol reflects the Korean pronunciation of the kanji characters that are used in Japanese to spell the word zaibatsu “a large industrial or financial conglomerate of Japan,” making chaebol the Korean loan translation of zaibatsu. Both chaebol and zaibatsu originated as borrowings from Middle Chinese dzoi “wealth” and bjot “powerful family” (compare Mandarin Chinese cái and ). Chinese is a member of the Sino-Tibetan language family, and though neither Japanese nor Korean belongs to this family, earlier versions of the Chinese language were once heavily influential on the non-Sinitic languages of East Asia. Chaebol was first recorded in English in the 1970s.

how is chaebol used?

South Korea’s family-run conglomerates are facing calls for a shakeup in their governance .… The conglomerates known as chaebol have come under the reform buzz saw before, only to emerge bigger and stronger than ever. The country’s four biggest chaebol groups account for around half the stock market’s value, according to the Korea Stock Exchange.

Hyunjoo Jin, Se Young Lee, and Nichola Saminather, “Chaebol reform at forefront of South Korea presidential campaign—again,” Reuters, March 27, 2017

Officials worry that as firms such as Naver, which began life as a search engine, and Kakao have expanded into anything from ride-hailing to personal finance, they have picked up the bad habits of the chaebol. These sprawling conglomerates were instrumental in making South Korea rich and continue to dominate its economy. But they are notorious for murky governance structures, oligopolistic business practices and close ties with the political elite.

"South Korea’s government sees tech firms as the new chaebol," Economist, September 18, 2021

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