Word of the Day

Word of the day

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

rapprochement

[ rap-rohsh-mahn ]

noun

an establishment or reestablishment of harmonious relations.

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What is the origin of rapprochement?

Rapprochement is a direct borrowing from French, in which the word means “reconciliation” or, more literally, “a state of approaching again.” If you were thinking that rapprochement sounded like reapproach, you’re exactly right; rapprochement is essentially the word approach with the French equivalent of the prefix re- “again,” plus the noun-forming suffix -ment.

how is rapprochement used?

“Elemental” … is a striking structure of tall poles arranged in a circle that evokes a Koyauwe, or a place to parley and resolve conflicts among the Mapuche, an Indigenous population of Chile. It was commissioned by a Mapuche territorial organization as part of a rapprochement process between the group and a forest company in conflict over shared land.

Elisabetta Povoledo, "Solving the World’s Problems at the Venice Architecture Biennale," New York Times, June 2, 2021

Indeed, it was difficult to reach a rapprochement between my girth and the Austrian concept of an economy seat; I ended up with my ass where my back should have been, palms pressed into the seat in front of me.

Gary Shteyngart, Absurdistan, 2006 

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Word of the day

Monday, August 23, 2021

prelapsarian

[ pree-lap-sair-ee-uhn ]

adjective

characteristic of or pertaining to any innocent or carefree period.

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What is the origin of prelapsarian?

Prelapsarian ultimately derives from Latin prae “before” and lāpsus “fall,” which are a reference to the biblical fall from grace and expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Lāpsus, from the verb lābī (stem lāps-) “to fall,” is the ultimate source of the English words lapse, elapse, and relapse, which all have to do with falling, whether it’s time falling away or a person falling back to old behaviors.

how is prelapsarian used?

This artificial division between natural and unnatural pervades our understanding of the world…. [It depends] on a conception of nature as something to which humanity has no fundamental link… And it’s a harmful dualism, even if it takes the form of veneration. It keeps us from embracing a robust, engaged environmentalism that is based on something more than gauzy, prelapsarian yearnings.

Andrew Blackwell, “In Brazil, Attacking the Forest to Save It,” Scientific American, September 21, 2012

Jeremy is a master of the urban detail, which for me evinces strong nostalgia for the pre-pandemic city…. It feels sort of scandalous to look at cartoons published in prelapsarian times—it’s hard not to want to chastise all those cartoon characters, within their little boxes, for their social-distancing violations.

Emma Allen and Jeremy Nguyen, "How to Draw a City," The New Yorker, September 9, 2020

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Word of the day

Sunday, August 22, 2021

beastie

[ bee-stee ]

noun

a small animal, especially one toward which affection is felt.

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What is the origin of beastie?

It should come as no surprise that beastie literally means “little beast”; the ending –ie is what is known as a diminutive suffix, a suffix that indicates smallness or, in certain contexts, either affection or condescension. Diminutive suffixes exist in many world languages; you may recognize the suffix –ito in Spanish burrito “little donkey,” or Italian graffito, the singular of graffiti—or the French suffix –ette in kitchenette “little kitchen,” or statuette “small statue.” English has several diminutives, such as –kin, as in napkin “little nape (tablecloth),” and –ling, as in darling “little dear” and gosling “little goose,” but it’s the suffix –ie, which also appears as –y, that’s the most widespread and the most productive.

how is beastie used?

Mammals of the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous were small, to be sure, but they counted swimmers, climbers, diggers, gliders, and more in their fuzzy family. They didn’t just live alongside the dinosaurs. They thrived. And the latest wee beastie to be added to their ranks is a spiky mammal uncovered from the 125 million year old rock of Spain.

Riley Black, "New Spiky-Haired Mammal Roamed During Dinosaurs’ Heyday," National Geographic, October 15, 2015

As Joel, [Dylan O’Brien’s] a happy-go-lucky guy who just wants to help his fellow postapocalyptic survivors slay the giant mutated insectoidal horribles that have taken over the planet. Trouble is, in the face of any such beastie he panics and practically pees himself. It’s all very relatable.

Jason Kehe, "One Thing Covid Didn’t Smash to Pieces? Monster Movies," Wired, May 10, 2021

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