• Word of the day
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    Tuesday, August 21, 2018

    kyoodle

    verb [kahy-ood-l]
    to bark or yelp noisily or foolishly; yap.
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    What is the origin of kyoodle?

    Kyoodle began as and still may be an Americanism. The word has no distinguished etymology (except for the vague label Imitative), which exactly fits the verb and also one of its noun meanings: mutt, noisy dog. Some distinguished American authors have used the word, however, including John Steinbeck, John O’Hara, and Sinclair Lewis. Kyoodle entered English in the late 19th century.

    How is kyoodle used?

    No living thing moved upon it, not even a medicine wolf to kyoodle to the invisible moon. Richard Sale, The White Buffalo, 1975

    But the dogs waved their tails happily and sought out a rabbit and went kyoodling after it. John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat, 1935

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, August 20, 2018

    squamous

    adjective [skwey-muhs]
    covered with or formed of squamae or scales.
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    What is the origin of squamous?

    The adjective squamous is a direct borrowing of Latin squāmōsus “covered with scales, scaly”, a derivative of the noun squāma “scale (on a fish or reptile), metal plate used in making armor.” The ultimate etymology of squāma is unclear, but it is related to squālēre “to be covered or crusted in scales or dirt,” and the derivatives of squālēre include squālidus “having a rough surface” and squālor “roughness, dirtiness, filth.” Squamous entered English in the 16th century.

    How is squamous used?

    The back was piebald with yellow and black, and dimly suggested the squamous covering of certain snakes. H. P. Lovecraft, "The Dunwich Horror," Weird Tales, April 1929

    They speak no known tongue and are said to sacrifice sailors to their squamous, fish-headed gods, likenesses of whom rise from their stony shores, visible only when the tide recedes. George R. R. Martin, Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson, The World of Ice and Fire, 2014

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, August 19, 2018

    lunula

    noun [loo-nyuh-luh]
    something shaped like a narrow crescent, as the small, pale area at the base of the fingernail.
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    What is the origin of lunula?

    The uncommon noun lunula is restricted to anatomy, biology, and archaeology or art history. It’s a straightforward borrowing of Latin lūnula, literally “little moon,” but meaning “crescent-shaped ornament” (one of its senses in English). The only common meaning for this uncommon noun is the pale, crescent-shaped are at the base of a fingernail or toenail. Lūnula is a diminutive of lūna “moon,” which is disconcertingly similar to Russian luná “moon.” (The cognate Polish łuna means “glow.”) Both the Slavic and the Latin nouns derive from the same Proto-Indo-European source, louksnā, the same source as Avestan raoxshna- “shining; a light.” (Raoxshna is also used as a proper female name that in Greek is rendered Rhōxánē “Roxane.” The “original” Raoxshna/Roxane was a Bactrian princess born c340 b.c.; she married Alexander the Great in 327 b.c., and was poisoned in prison in 310 b.c.). Proto-Indo-European louksnā becomes in Old Prussian the plural noun lauxnos “stars,” and Middle Irish luan “moon.” All of these forms derive from the very common Proto-Indo-European root leuk- and its variants louk- and luk- “light, bright.” Lunula entered English in the 16th century.

    How is lunula used?

    It refuses to grow back, the nail of this one finger, the lunula destroyed, a moon permanently obliterated by one smash of his interrogator's pistol. Vaddey Ratner, Music of the Ghosts, 2017

    I ... wore only a simple shift of amber-and-brown plaid wool, and only ghillies, ovals of calfskin, laced around my feet. No golden tore, no silver lunula, nor am I royal of stature or of mien. Nancy Springer, “The Kingmaker,” Firebird Soaring, 2009

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, August 18, 2018

    prima facie

    adjective [prahy-muh fey-shee-ee, fey-shee, fey-shuh, pree-]
    plain or clear; self-evident; obvious.
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    What is the origin of prima facie?

    The English phrase prima facie is obviously Latin: prīmā faciē (ablative singular in form) means “at first sight.” (Faciēs has very many meanings: "physical or outward appearance, looks, sight, scene, good looks,….") It is not incredible that the English phrase at first blush is a literal translation of the Latin phrase: blush, a noun meaning "glance, sight," is obsolete except for the phrase at (on) (the) first blush. Prima facie entered English in the 15th century.

    How is prima facie used?

    McCain and Palin have been quoting this remark ever since, offering it as prima-facie evidence of Obama’s unsuitability for office. Hendrik Hertzberg, "Like, Socialism," The New Yorker, November 3, 2008

    There was no prima-facie absurdity in his hypothesis—and experiment was the sole means of demonstrating its truth or falsity. Thomas H. Huxley, "William Harvey," Popular Science Monthly, March 1878

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, August 17, 2018

    corpocracy

    noun [kawr-pok-ruh-see]
    a society in which corporations have much economic and political power.
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    What is the origin of corpocracy?

    Corpocracy is an unlovely compound noun formed from corporate or corporation plus the common combining form -cracy, ultimately from the Greek combining form -kratía, formed from krátos “strength, power,” and the noun suffix -ía. Corpocracy is not a recent word: it first appears in print in 1935, right smack in the middle of the Great Depression, during FDR’s first term.

    How is corpocracy used?

    Whether you are in business or government, you will be members of the same corpocracy. In the West, there are tensions between government and business elites. In China, these elites are part of the same social web, cooperating for mutual enrichment. David Brooks, "The Dictatorship of Talent," New York Times, December 4, 2007

    ... David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” features a futuristic South Korea-inspired “corpocracy,” a hotbed of clones, plastic surgery (“facescaping”), and insurrection. Ed Park, "Sorry Not Sorry," The New Yorker, October 19, 2015

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, August 16, 2018

    anodyne

    noun [an-uh-dahyn]
    anything that relieves distress or pain: The music was an anodyne to his grief.
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    What is the origin of anodyne?

    Anodyne has a surprising etymology. Its Greek original, anṓdynos “painless,” breaks down to the elements an-, ṓd-, -yn-, -os-. The first element, an- “not,” is from the same Proto-Indo-European source as Latin in- and Germanic (English) un-. The second to last element -yn- is from the noun suffix -ýnē; the last element, -os, is an adjective ending. The main element odýnē “pain” (édyna in the Aeolic dialect) consists of ṓd-, a derivative of the Greek root ed-, od- from the Proto-Indo-European root ed-, od- “to eat” (source of Latin edere, Germanic (Old English) etan, Hittite et-, Homeric Greek édmenai, all meaning “eat, to eat.”) In Greek odýnē is something that eats you (cf. colloquial English, “What’s eating you?”). The Germanic languages also have the compound verb fra-etan “to eat up, devour,” which becomes in German fressen “devour, gorge, corrode,” and in Old English fretan “to devour,” English fret, which nowadays usually has only its extended sense “feel worry or pain.” Anodyne entered English in the 16th century.

    How is anodyne used?

    ... he realized that then, and now, work had been an anodyne of sorts. It had occupied his mind. Patrick Taylor, An Irish Country Courtship, 2010

    ... he would run down the great staircase, with its lions of gilt bronze and its steps of bright porphyry, and wander from room to room, and from corridor to corridor, like one who was seeking to find beauty an anodyne from pain, a sort of restoration from sickness. Oscar Wilde, "The Young King," A House of Pomegranates, 1891

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  • Word of the day
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    Wednesday, August 15, 2018

    marplot

    noun [mahr-plot]
    a person who mars or defeats a plot, design, or project by meddling.
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    What is the origin of marplot?

    The noun marplot is a combination of the verb mar “to damage, spoil” and its direct object, the noun plot, formed like the noun pickpocket. Marplot is a character in a farce, The Busie Body, written by Susanna Centlivre, c1667-1723, an English actress, poet, and playwright, and produced in 1709. In the play Marplot is a well-meaning busybody who meddles in and ruins the romantic affairs of his friends.

    How is marplot used?

    ... Time is unalterable; he swings his merry bomb through centuries, nor feels a jot the mental agony of us sublunary mortals; therefore is he, to our thinking, a Marplot. , "New Music," The Metropolitan, April 1843

    Humpty is Puss’ childhood frenemy: pal, rival and seemingly inept marplot to our hero’s suave efficiency in a crisis. Richard Corliss, "Antonio Banderas in Puss in Boots: One Cool Cat," Time, October 28, 2011

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