Word of the Day

Friday, July 17, 2020

rebus

[ ree-buhs ]

noun

a representation of a word or phrase by pictures, symbols, etc., that suggest that word or phrase or its syllables: Two gates and a head is a rebus for Gateshead.

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What is the origin of rebus?

A rebus is a representation of a word or phrase by pictures or symbols suggesting that word or phrase or its syllables. Rebuses were formerly very popular with children in the Sunday funnies. The origin of rebus is disputed, but the most likely source is Latin rēbus “by things,” the ablative plural of the grievously overworked noun rēs “thing, matter, circumstance, affair, property, wealth, etc.” Rēbus is short for nōn verbīs sed rēbus “not by words but by things.” Some French authorities claim that rebus comes from the Latin phrase dē rēbus quae geruntur “concerning the affairs that are going on,” alluding to the satirical pieces composed and performed by the clerks of Picardy (northwest France) in the annual carnival, but this usage is later than attestations of rebus in the sense “puzzle.” Rebus entered English in the early 17th century.

how is rebus used?

All I wanted to do was wish my fiancée happy birthday using emojis. But I couldn’t replicate the rebus of the classic Sandra Boynton greeting card: Hippo, Birdie, Two Ewes.

Damon Darlin, "America Needs Its Own Emojis," New York Times, March 7, 2015

It [Seattle] created a new logo: a rebus that featured an eyeball, the “@” symbol, and the letter “L” (pronounced “See-at-L”), above the slogan, “Seattle: soak it up!”

Paul Hiebert, "What's the Point of City Logos?" The New Yorker, February 7, 2014

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

adamantine

[ ad-uh-man-teen, -tin, -tahyn ]

adjective

utterly unyielding or firm in attitude or opinion.

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What is the origin of adamantine?

Adamantine “unyielding in attitude or opinion; too hard to cut, break, or pierce; like a diamond (in luster)” comes from Middle English adama(u)ntin, from the Middle French adjective adamantin (feminine adamantine), from Latin adamantinus “pertaining to diamondlike adamant or steel; resembling diamonds (saxa adamantina), from Greek adamántinos, an adjective derived from the noun adámas (stem adamant-) “steel (the hardest metal); diamond.” The traditional etymology for adámas is the corresponding adjective meaning “unbreakable,” somehow a derivative of damân “to tame, subdue,” with the privative prefix a-; more likely adámas is a loanword from Semitic. Adamantine entered English in the first half of the 13th century.

how is adamantine used?

Her dedication to the pursuit of equality for the masses was adamantine, however.

"Briefly Noted: 'Goddess of Anarchy,'" The New Yorker, February 5, 2018

And the moment of commitment came with the special force that was central to his character: an adamantine, unshakable conviction that what he was doing was unequivocally right …

Ben Macintyre, The Spy and the Traitor, 2018

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

sojourn

[ soh-jurn ]

noun

a temporary stay: during his sojourn in Paris.

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What is the origin of sojourn?

The noun sojourn means “a temporary stay.” The verb sojourn, “to stay for a time, reside temporarily,” has several dozen Middle English spellings: sojournen, sojourni, suggorn, suggeourn, etc. The Middle English forms derive from equally exuberant Old French forms, for example, sejorner, sojorner, sojourneir, sojurner, and Anglo-French forms, for example, sojurner, sujurner. The French forms derive from an unrecorded Vulgar Latin verb subdiurnāre “to stay for a time,” a compound of the preposition and prefix sub, sub-, here meaning “a little, for a while” and the Latin verb diurnāre “to live for a long time,” a derivative of the Latin adjective diurnus “belonging to the daytime, occurring every day.” Sojourn entered English in the 13th century.

how is sojourn used?

Nevertheless, in this mansion of gloom I now proposed to myself a sojourn of some weeks.

Edgar Allan Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher," Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, 1839

He begins to conjecture how much he has gained and lost during his long sojourn in the American republic.

James Baldwin, "Encounter on the Seine: Black Meets Brown," Notes of a Native Son, 1955

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