300 New Words!
the number of members of a group or organization required to be present to transact business legally, usually a majority.
Quorum comes from Latin quōrum “of whom.” (To get into the grammatical weeds, quōrum is the masculine genitive plural of the relative and interrogative pronoun and adjective quī, quae, quod “who, which, what.”) In medieval England, the Latin formula for commissioning justices of the peace would mention certain prominent local persons in general, known for their learning, experience, and prudence, and then specify one or more such persons as definitely to be included: Quōrum ūnum N esse volumus “Of whom we want N to be one.” Such commissioned justices were necessary to constitute a bench and were known as justices of the quorum. The current sense, “the number of members of a group or organization required to be present to transact business legally, usually a majority,” dates from the early 17th century. Quorum entered English in the first half of the 15th century.
… new members can only be approved by a twelve-member quorum, and the shrunken Academy now has ten active members instead of its usual eighteen: a Catch-22 if there ever was one.
Along with two pre-existing vacancies, this will shrink what should be a six-member board to three members—one short of the quorum required to hold meetings and perform many basic functions.
a person or thing that illuminates or inspires: The Bible has been our beacon during this trouble.
Beacon comes from Old English bēacen, bēcen, bēcn “a sign, portent; a standard, banner; a signal, signal fire, signal hill or tower, watchtower; lighthouse.” (Most of these senses appear in Beowulf.) Bēacen comes from Germanic baukna– “beacon, signal,” the source of Old Frisian bāken, Old Saxon bōkan, Old High German bouhhan. The derivative Germanic verb bauknjan “to make a sign, signal” becomes bēcnan in Old English and beckon in English.
As is often the case with those who die young, Martin Luther King Jr. has become more symbol than man: pacifist, beacon of nonviolent racial reform.
At first sight we had not rated the American town favorably, but now it seemed a beacon of civilization.
the sport of cross-country skiing.
Langlauf, “cross-country skiing, cross-country skiing race,” is a German compound noun formed from the adjective lang, cognate with English long, and the noun Lauf “run,” related to English leap (from the Old English noun hlȳp) and lope. Langlauf entered English in the 1920s.
“Haven’t you got a boat that’ll cut through the ice?” … “It’s too thick to get through. Langlauf is the easiest way by far.”
Pontresina, a picture-book village tucked just around the mountain from imperious St. Moritz, turns out to be one of the best places in the world to do cross-country skiing—or langlauf as it’s known.