Word of the Day

Monday, October 14, 2019

recherché

[ ruh-shair-shey, ruh-shair-shey; French ruh-sher-shey ]

adjective

sought out with care.

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What is the origin of recherché?

The adjective recherché “carefully sought out, rare, exotic, obscure, elegant, pretentious,” comes straight from French recherché, the past participle of the verb rechercher “to look for carefully, research.” The prefix re– in rechercher indicates repetition; the verb chercher “to look for,” comes from Late Latin circāre “to go around,” a derivation of circus “circle.” (English search comes from Old French cerchier, French chercher.) Recherché entered English in the 17th century.

how is recherché used?

… a tasteful and récherché stock of frames and feathers and ribbons was chosen ….

William Dean Howells, A Woman's Reason, 1882

But, among the books which load their shelves, there is the most recherché collection of European standard works to be found in this country ….

, "Scribner & Co.," New York Times, December 12, 1874
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Sunday, October 13, 2019

aplomb

[ uh-plom, uh-pluhm ]

noun

imperturbable self-possession, poise, or assurance.

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What is the origin of aplomb?

The English adjective aplomb is from the French noun aplomb “self-possession,” literally “perpendicularity,” from the Old French phrase a plomb “perpendicularly,” literally “according to the lead weight,” from Latin ad “at, to” and plumbum “lead.” Aplomb entered English in the first half of the 19th century.

how is aplomb used?

… I had found that in entering with aplomb, and mounting the estrade with emphasis, consisted the grand secret of ensuring immediate silence.

Charlotte Brontë, The Professor, 1857

Whether he was coached in the art of transcendental stillness by his mother, whose acting career is not long over, has yet to be revealed, but he performed his task with aplomb.

Anthony Lane, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Introduce Their Son, a Royal Named Archie," The New Yorker, May 8, 2019
Saturday, October 12, 2019

historiated

[ hi-stawr-ee-ey-tid, -stohr- ]

adjective

decorated with animals, flowers, or other designs that have a narrative or symbolic purpose, especially of initial letters on an illuminated manuscript.

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What is the origin of historiated?

The adjective historiated comes from Medieval Latin historiātus, the past participle of the verb historiāre “to tell a story or a narrative in pictures” (as in an illuminated manuscript or capital letter), from Latin historia “investigation, research, inquiry, a record or account of an investigation, a history,” from Greek historía, a derivation of the noun hístōr “knowing, expert.” Historiated entered English in the mid-19th century.

how is historiated used?

Historiated initials often emphasize the praiseworthiness of a certain paragraph with an elaborately illustrated letter.

Emma Green, "The Emoji Bible, Reviewed," The Atlantic, June 9, 2016

At the request of Queen Claude, he used historiated rather than purely decorative borders.

Roberta Smith, "Heaven and Earth, Sized to Grasp," New York Times, June 5, 2014

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